I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.
The famous quote from Mahatma Gandhi.
The unequivocal, and equally terrifying, fact of the matter is that he was spot on. If Gandhi had tweeted this line, his 140 characters would have closed with #Boom #TruthBomb. Looking at what Christianity has become, I can’t argue with his observation.
And to be completely honest, that sucks.
It pains me to admit Gandhi had a better grasp of what Christianity looks like than most who attend church every Sunday morning. I’m tired of being just a number in the churning system of polished religion.
The underlying heartbeat of bigotry, exclusion, and homophobia neatly wrapped with a ribbon of weaponized Biblical tyranny, topped with a carefully placed bow of Jesus loves you.
Meanwhile, people are dying as they stare through the stained glass windows and sleep underneath the shadow of our steeples. The drug addicted prodigals drowning in the gutter. The pregnant teen forced to endure life with no help from her family. The homeless and the hungry, unwelcome in the mausoleums of fear and Evangelical rhetoric.
Every time I read about Jesus, the story never changes. His unconditional love to the outcast and rejected never dissipates. His message of unconditional love and unbiased inclusion for all people remains constant.
When did the beautiful hope expressing “good tidings of great joy” disappear from our verbiage? When did our fear of the LBGTQ community creep in and convolute our intentions? When did atheists and Muslims become our enemies?
There is an enduring and blood-stained lineage of those who came before us. Martyrs who surrendered their lives without hesitation for the continuation of the Gospel. Men and women murdered with the sustained belief that their successors would carry the torch of hope and love to those who needed it the most.
It’s our charge to ensure their dying whispers of praise to our King were not uttered in vain. I don’t want to see more people abused, rejected, and cast aside on our watch.
The very purpose of our existence is not discovered in petty arguments over cups and flags. It’s not promoted through our public platitudes of empty, worn out prayers to the Man upstairs. Nor do we represent a message of love while hiding behind judgmental walls of hate and separation.
He who has no sin let him cast the first stone. As the rocks fall from our rigid grasps, we come to realize the sobering truth that we can no longer deny. It’s the goodness and kindness of God that bring men to repentance.
There is an overwhelming sense of completeness that accompanies unconditional love. A power that can’t be described with the most elegant words from our English language. A feeling of finally belonging in a world that has been nothing but cruel and unkind.
The life and history of Jesus isn’t just a story that gets dusted off once a year. It’s not an obligation that demands the attention of our children as we sit around a tree adorned with sparkling lights, surrounded by a sea of wrapped gifts. If we don’t take His message to heart, we make a mockery of his execution.
I’m tried of hearing stories about discounted teens committing suicide. I’m tired of terrified young women feeling like the only option they have left is an abortion. And I’m tired of seeing wealth and prestige that dominates a large portion of the church environment.
I certainly don’t want to judge anyone, but it bothers me when I see big name preachers, teachers and evangelists with multiple cars, million dollar homes, and five thousand dollar suits speaking about faith. I don’t have to mention any names, because we all know who they are.
While I can’t begin to know the intimate details of their relationship with God, I do see their fruit. And it’s dripping with gold. Treasures that will burn with everything else at the end of time. I would rather be earthly poor and possess nothing than to have everything here and be Heavenly bankrupt.
Jesus lived a life of surrender, compassion for the least of these, and a burning desire to eradicate ages old religion. He ushered in a new and living way that contradicted everything the Pharisees believed in. He taught mercy over judgment. Forgiveness over blame. Love over a multitude of sin.
Have we ventured so far from the original message of the Gospel that we worship our convictions more than we desire to humble ourselves and love our neighbor? Does it not burden our souls to see LGBTQ teens kill themselves because of condemnation from organized religion? Does our heart cry out in anguish when a gunman enters an abortion clinic and murders three people?
Loving others isn’t that difficult. Sometimes all it takes is a simple gesture of kindness. A smile. Maybe a word of encouragement.
On the canvas of humanity, we are all brush strokes. Full of color. Lovingly spread out in beautiful designs and shapes. Blended together to form the amazing picture of this thing we call life. There are people who feel all alone in this world. They need me. They need you.
Together, we can put the Christ back into Christianity.