March 21, 2003 – over 16 years later, I still remember the night as if it were yesterday. I attended a local church
service with a special guest band, “Seventh Day Slumber”. From this night on, my life would never be the same. Even today, I can say that that night had a lot to do with who I am today. But from that night, I would walk down a road that a lot of young “Christians” would walk. The road of religion. Paved with judgement, hypocrisy, and legalism I think this road was a one I needed to take to become who I am at current state.
Honestly, looking back at my younger self, I’m almost ashamed of who I appeared to be to certain groups of people.
In fact, if you didn’t have the mindset I had, for the most part I didn’t want you around me. I probably did more damage than good as a youth pastor. I preached religion versus relationship with a loving God. “Act this way.” “Live like this.” “Remember that this will send you to hell.” Not saying it was completely my fault, but could you blame me? Especially when most churches preach the same ‘gospel.’
Yes, I know. I’ll have some Christian friends to read this and either they will be offended or they’ll actually understand my next couple of words…
The ‘gospel’ that you’ve read and are living aren’t lining up.
Here’s what I mean, Jesus actually was among the people that he wanted to be around. Yet we say separate ourselves from the world. Jesus didn’t just “hang out” with sinners from time to time, regardless of what your righteous pastor says. News flash: he lived among them. Why? Because he wanted to be around them. Listen… Jesus understood 2 things:
- The religious rejected them because they were not like them.
- Love wins more people than hate.
Underlying issue: today not much has changed. Most people that sit on those pews claim to have welcoming arms,
but yet won’t actually do the one thing that Jesus did: accept people who are different than them. To take it a step further, most people in a church want the “life-changing, loving gospel of Jesus” for themselves, yet only know how to preach condemnation and judgement on those outside of the same four walls. Yet the bible I own says something different. The reality is, Jesus was for everyone. Not a chosen group of religious bigots who only say, “they want the world to know Jesus,” yet can’t stop looking down their noses at anyone that doesn’t attend a church, listen to a Christian radio station, or just so happens to drop a few “F” bombs from time to time. But let’s not get started on transgender, gay, anyone that’s had an abortion, or God forbid, been divorced. We know exactly how church folk feel about them. Well, judging buy your picket signs anyway.
Changing the world involves loving the person next to you… no matter… NO MATTER who they are.
Everyone – Always