I want to make an unreserved apology to all of you out there who have been affected by, hurt by, offended by, hated by and judged by ‘Christians’.
I used to be one of those religious Christians who ran around trying to save the world from ‘Hell’. I did it for the good of their souls. They had to know the truth. I alienated and hurt dear friends. I was a hypocrite. I didn’t understand what it was like NOT to be a Christian.
My only certainty right now is that I follow the Red Letters – the words that were recorded as the words Jesus actually spoke (and they are in red in most Bibles), and the man who spoke them – Jesus Christ.
Among them are:
Matthew 7:1: “Do not judge so that you will not be judged.” (RSV)
Matthew 7:4: “Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye,’ while there is a beam in your own?” (RSV)
Matthew 7:5: “You hypocrite! First remove the beam from your own eye, and then you can see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” (RSV)
Jesus is clearly asking that we not judge others but instead look at ourselves and see what might be wrong with us. Unfortunately, judgement is what I see a lot of in Christian communities. Some of us, as Christians, think we have the right to pass judgement on the ‘sins’ of others and make them feel less than good enough. I’ve done it and it’s NOT OK.
Why does the word ‘Christian’ often have so many bad connotations? I, myself, immediately think of extreme politics, staunch, gun-toting republicans, weird healing meetings, a church where we were told what the truth was – not the actual interpretation of the scripture in the original language or context but how it appears in English on the page, I think of 24-hour prayer meetings, Holy Spirit ‘drunk’ nights, deliverance, heavy-handedness, pseudo-professionalism and so much more. Isn’t that sad? And I do call myself a Christian. I am not saying 24-hour prayer meetings are bad either, but that what we do is not motivated out of duty or fear, but by love.
But there is something I want you to know. Christians are human – just like you and I. We make some terrible mistakes and we are often given an even worse name by some people who use God as a mask or a weapon to abuse, degrade and condemn.
But can I let you in on a little secret? I fricken LOVE Jesus. I would not be the Anna I am, the Anna I want to be, without him. I just love him because he is so real. I am going to take a risk here and trust that you are thinking creatures so I can do something Jesus said not to do which was to ‘cast your pearls’ (your most treasured things) before those who won’t understand. Because I hope you will understand.
You will hear me talk about Jesus. You just will. I used to have night terrors and visitations by black beings when I was a small child. Dad told me to tell them to go away in the name of Jesus and they did! But it left me very scared. One night, when I was about three, I had my night-light on and I was very much awake.
I looked up to see the man whom I knew to be Jesus and he audibly spoke to me, saying ‘go to sleep, Anna.’ Not exactly what I was hoping for but I cried out to my Dad and asked if people had seen him before and apparently people had. The sense of his power and presence has never fully left me. From that day to this, 34 years on, I don’t want to leave the side of my best friend – Jesus. The one who has loved me and chastised me and given me grace. We have only grown in our friendship and he is altogether beautiful.
I can’t explain why he doesn’t stop horrible things from happening (apart from free will) but I say ‘sh*t happens, but Jesus is always there.’
I hope that one day you have the pleasure of meeting this beautiful person. I will be speaking about him because it’s like talking about your best mate so please don’t be freaked out by what is very normal to me. I have had to find Jesus and negotiate my faith by myself to find out what I truly believe, and I’m still learning! But I pray that I will not judge you or make you to feel anything other than worthy – because you are.
I know I run the risk of sounding like I am judging other Christians and I do run the risk of sounding hypocritcal and mean-spirited but I have been those things. I also know some AMAZING followers of Christ (and some who don’t) who have been like Christ to me on this earth and who have given up everything to help themselves and others.
So Christian or not, may you be blessed and may you find a little of the true Christ in this world.