The Bigotry is Real; The Love is Realer

Christians are persecuted every day, that is an unfortunate reality. But the other unfortunate reality is that Christians also persecute every day.

And who am I talking about? Me, of course! Sure, we all know those annoying, judgmental people, but I”m here to talk about me. I don’t know about those people, maybe they mean well, but I’ve been inside my own head and I know it’s not pretty. There’s jealousy, there’s pride, there’s hatred.

It doesn’t come over night, the fall from grace. The darkness seeps in, colors your perception, disguises itself as light and truth. And pretty soon you’re all mad at those sinners who are really your brothers and sisters, and you realize that you’re the worst sinner of them all, but you just stop caring in a way. That is a bad place, don’t go there.

You read in the Bible that you should love your enemies, and you half-beleive it, and you half doubt it, so basically you’re just doubting it.

I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to accuse you of this too.

I know this all sounds really depressing, but it’s not the bottom-line. I’m sorry that I’m so real on this blog- sometimes I feel like I should tone it down a little and just talk about salad recipes. Maybe I’ll do that tomorrow.

I’m not saying that the Bible turns people into jerks. I’m saying that Satan is a clever little _____ and he knows how to twist things around. He can even use  scripture verses. Remember this?

Then the devil took Him up into the holy city, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. For it is written:

‘He shall give His angels charge over you,’

and,

‘In their hands they shall bear you up,
Lest you dash your foot against a stone.’[b]

Jesus said to him, “It is written again, ‘You shall not tempt the Lord your God.’”[c]
Again, the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to Him, “All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me.”
10 Then Jesus said to him, “Away with you,[d] Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.’”[e]

Matthew 4:5-10

But if I truly believed into the Lord Jesus, I would never think of using the Bible as a way to judge other folks and be a bully. I would be humble, compassionate, joyful, and loving. Oh, if only! I know it’s true, but why do I doubt the whole thing even as I’m writing this! And yet, it’s my only hope. Must bling to it. Must cling for dear life. It is life, friends. Take my word for it- I’ve seen what death and destruction look like. I know that’s what Satan wants. I don’t want to give him what he wants anymore.

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Why Writing Essays Makes Me Sad

And writing in general makes me happy?

I’ve been working on a novel that is about myself, which is weird, super fun, and scary at the same time. I am definitely putting too much of myself into it (Can I get a Picture of Dorian Gray anyone?), but I guess that’s okay. You see, previously I have tried writing about other people, or writing about just one aspect of myself. But the fact is, I don’t know about other people, and I don’t know how a character can only be one aspect of myself without being something else. So before I try jumping into other people’s shoes, maybe i ought to get comfortable in my own skin.

Here’s the premise:

High school senior Julie Ashbury wants more than anything to descend from her ivory tower, but she’s deathly afraid of heights, and pretty much everything else. Naive, spoiled, socially awkward, and perpetually paranoid, Julie gracelessly stumbles through life. She believes that attending college far away from home in New York City will change her life forever, but her parents have other plans. She embarks on a journey of her own to discover what life is about, but she doesn’t discover much that she didn’t already know. She meets the same God that she has known her whole life, and the same humanity that she has always struggled to interact with. Fear is what has been holding her back, but fear is a part of her. How can she let go of it?

By the way, much of the plot of this book and the supporting characters are somewhat fabricated.

Compare that with this humanities essay that I have to write. I am arguing in this essay that Saint Augustine was converted to Christianity, and the kings of some long-forgtten dynasty were not. But I don’t like this. How could I possibly know who was converted and who was not?

What’s more, for someone who calls herself a writer, I suck at these essays. I got a B- on the last one. Not even a B+! At least no one grades me on my novels, just rejection letters. Also, I think that my TA thinks that I am biased. I also suspect everyone in my class knows that I am Christian and they don’t like me because I’m not perfect.

I don’t want to judge kings anymore. You know what, I don’t think I should be judging anyone, because the way you judged is the way you are judged. Sure, a lot of people are idolatrous and greedy. Sure there are probably valid criticisms of the early Catholic church “Fathers” and the famous Christians of our day, but I don’t know what’s in their hearts. What I do know for certain is that I am screwed up.

Satan tells me that I am so screwed up and self destructive that I don’t even deserve to live anymore. But why should I crucify myself when Jesus crucified himself for me? What am I trying to prove? And what can my sin do but shrivel up and die in the glorious light of day? And what temptation is there that cannot be resisted? How can faith do anything but help me to attain the highest wishes of my spirit, while shunning the vile and base impulses that are so different from the goodness that the difference cannot even be overstated?

I am not sure how I went from promoting my book to talking about my personal battle with Satan, but, consider yourself welcomed to my whacky existence.

 

Why Do People Hate Christians?

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Obviously, not all non-Christains hate Christians / Christianity. And the reasons that the haters hate are somewhat obvious. Yet the question still puzzles me.

From my experience, here are the main reasons for the hate/mistrust/indifference/revulsion:

1. Christians are hypocrites

2. They think they’re better than me because they’re going to heaven and I’m not; in other words, their ideas are self-indulgent rather than pious

3. They are simplistic, idealistic fools that I kind of want to punch in the face sometimes

4. Where was God when I needed him anyway?

5. I have my own religion, and therefore cannot accept Christianity and I want them to leave me alone

Okay, maybe I exaggerated and made light of the situation a little, but those are the main reasons as I understand it. But obviously, I don’t really know all the reasons since I am biased; and if you think I am wrong I would appreciate it if you told me the real reasons.

I’ve tried to make sense of all this, but I can’t. I would like to say that I enjoy persecution and being made fun of, but I really don’t, in part because I can’t always tell if I am being rejected for my beliefs, my personality, or a mysterious combination. And like the pathetic crybaby I am, I tend to take things very seriously at times. I pray to God that I will stop acting like a toddler who got their cookie taken away.

I would like to say that I don’t care what other people think. But that’s just not true. When people accuse me of being a hypocrite, I become completely convinced that I am. And because I am always thinking about how much of a hypocrite I am, I become reluctant to open my mouth. I am afraid my words will detract from the Kingdom. I am afraid my reputation will rub off on God and people will think He’s just like me. But most of all, I am afraid of what other people will think. I am afraid of being ridiculed, isolated, and mocked for my beliefs in the same way that I am occasionally ridiculed, isolated, and mocked for being who I am.

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I would like to say that I don’t get very many angry comments on this blog because of its presentation of ideas… but is it really because I am being wishy washy? Or do I just not get enough traffic to rack up all those hate comments that other blogs get?

What an unfortunate situation this is! This is a psychological dilemma that I’m afraid I don’t have an answer to. It might help if I stopped being a hypocrite, but how is that to be accomplished?

And here’s another question: Do I really want to be a non-hypocrite? Of course, if you asked anyone, they would say that it’s better to not be a hypocrite. But to truly become a non-hypocrite, to dedicate yourself to every tenant and teaching of the Gospel sounds a little repellant. It sounds like I will be judged for that as much as I am judged for being a hypocrite. And frankly, it sounds hard. How about a spiritual nap?

Lord, protect me from the madness of the world, and these thoughts that never give me peace. I pray that I can lovingly forgive all those who have hurt me, and that I will not indulge in bitterness when people judge me. You are the ultimate judge, God, and as long as I serve You, the rest doesn’t matter one bit.

 

 

 

 

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Navigating The Confusion of The World

Is next to impossible. Let’s face it, the human mind can only do so much. There are lots of things that probably won’t ever make sense to us. But that is okay. In failure, in confusion, in pain, there is humility.

Here are some people I wish I could chat with, perhaps at Starbucks:
1. Jesus
2. Mary, mother of Jesus. What was it like being the mother of Jesus? How do you feel that people around the world are worshipping you?
3. Leo Tolstoy

Here are some things that I would like to understand:
1. The entire Old Testament
2. 1 Corinthians 14 and the role of women
3. How God gets a camel through the eye of a needle, and how He exactly He saves people from their own greed and arrogance
4. Sodom and Gomorrah
5. What speaking in tongues looks and sounds like
6. 1 Corinthians 5 please!
7. Jesus’ personality

I’m sure there’s lots of other theological issues that I would like to understand. Why do I bring up all of the most controversial parts of the Bible? I do not want it to cause more divisions. We have enough of those. But why does disagreement necessarily need to lead to division?

I think that we should attempt to understand and appreciate all of God’s Word. Even if it’s not convenient or intuitive. I pray that in the end, these questions and problems will be resolved and our faiths will be all the stronger for having endured the confusion.

Journeying with Job Part 2

Talking to other believers… and other people in general, teaches you so much… I guess everyone already knew that, but as a die-hard introvert, I suppose that has not always been extremely self-evident/easy for me to accomplish. We can learn a lot from the people around us. They can bring us closer to God. They often tell us what we need to hear. But what about when they’re wrong?

Job’s friends were obviously wrong. It seems like an example of dramatic irony- we see the exchange between God and Satan in the beginning of the book, but they didn’t. Everyone, including Elihu, repeatedly accuses Job of having done wrong. They conclude that Job is simply being punished. But we know better.

The funny thing is that Job’s friends seem to have remarkable faith in the sovereignty of God. They may even have good intentions. It’s easy to criticize them, but don’t you think it’s possible that you would do the same? Make various misguided attempts at rescuing someone from sin? Well, that is assuming that they were trying to help him, which they may not have been.

“Can you find out the deep things of God? Can you find out the limit of the Almighty? It is higher than heaven- what can you do? Deeper than Sheol- what can you know?”

-Job 11:7-8

Poetic words from Zophar. Maybe he could have followed his own advice a little.

My point is that Job’s friends were wrong about God’s intentions, if not many other things. After all, they were people, just like us. They relied on past experience, culture, common sense, prejudice, and religious ideas. They were wrong. We can be wrong about some things, while in the same breath, be right about others. “Wise people” can be wrong too. It’s crazy.

Don’t believe everything you see. Don’t let your common sense, your instincts, your street smarts lead you through life. We’re all going to make mistakes along the way, and we will learn from them… but do we really need to be constantly led astray?

The Battle Continues- Christians Vs. Hollywood

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I don’t think that anyone who really knows me would say that I have no sense of humor. I love humor- snakiness, satire, slapstick, all of the above.

It seems like every time you turn on the TV or read anything intellectual, there are always jokes about religion. You know what I’m talking about. Sometimes, these jokes are downright blasphemous. But sometimes they seem kind of good-natured. They seem to say, “It’s okay if you actually believe that, we won’t judge, but you know it’s a little silly.” And every once in a while they seem somewhat appropriate/funny/understandable. Like what I saw today, on a recent episode of the Simpsons, when Homer was dressed up as Jesus while promoting a loan shark (get it, because of how Jesus got mad at the “money changers” in the temple), and was consequently struck by lightening. I don’t know, I thought that was funny. As close as the media will get to acknowledging the existence of God.

I’m pretty sure I’ve blogged on this topic before. But what I really want to know is, how should Christians respond to this kind of humor? And, where do you draw the line in making light of the things in the Bible? Puns, good-natured one-liners? Isn’t it wrong to ridicule the word of God beyond that (or is the Bible a 100% serious thing)? Does God himself have a good sense of humor when it comes to his own decrees?

Which brings up another topic. Forgive me for jumping around, but I think I will let those questions hang in the air while I discuss this, the matter of Christians as loud-mouthed media watchdogs. Sure, we can certainly have our opinions of what we see, we can react accordingly to what we see, and refrain from watching certain things, encouraging our friends to do the same. But do we need to write the strongly worded letters and go crazy on social media every time we see something particularly debauch? Should we try to change the culture by speaking out? Or should we accept that the world is different from us, and stop trying to impose our morals on it? Should we just let our lives speak for themselves? Why do we expect Hollywood to conform to our values? And don’t we have our own business to attend to? Or is it important that we remind ourselves and each other of what is right and wrong? Do we have something better to do than discuss how Miley Cyrus is an example of the cultural decline of America? Is there a plank between our pupils and our 3-D glasses?

 

 

 

Photo Credit: simple.wikipedia.org

 

 

 

Why I Should Start Wearing Polo Shirts

In my playwriting class, there is a girl who reminds me a little of myself in a way that I can stomach. She is a little shy and always looks a bit nervous. I would like to talk to this girl sometime, but there aren’t very many opportunities, since I must leave that class in a hurry. She sports polo shirts, long socks, short pants, and old tennis shoes. And I find myself thinking, “Well, at least my clothes are cuter than hers.”

Really? This is what the love of Christ has taught me? I shouldn’t be judging this girl by her clothes. How can I be so shallow, so superficial, so Godless? Why in the world does it matter what she wears? She’s not showing half her breasts or her butt crack, which oddly is much more socially acceptable than wearing polo shirts. Sheesh. I think I’ll wear my polo shirts too. 

But at the same time, why does it hurt me and cause me to be bitter when people judge me (if they ever are, which can’t be proven)? Why do I get weirded out when people look at me like I’m an alien when I run to class with my backpack and tennis racket strapped to me (running is absolutely necessary if I want to be on time). Why do I care when a girl doesn’t want to answer my homework related question? Or when I get dirty looks for being myself, which is, at times, unpolished and frazzled?

It’s true, I grow bitter towards people sometimes, especially the normal “popular” people who are clearly way too good to look at me. But I should just love them and forgive them. The Bible says to love your enemies. So what if my enemies are pretty and charming?

And it’s also true that even more than I could ever hate someone else, I hate myself. Yesterday, I was sitting in a lecture, annoyed by this girl behind me who was having a lively conversation with her friend the whole time. She was a little off-beat, of course, and I wish I could have told her to stop swearing, if only for the reason that it sounded so ridiculous coming from her. I quickly realized that she annoyed me because she reminded me a bit of myself. I do the same thing when I get to know people- I become obnoxious, over zealous, jocose. In high school I used to spend entire class periods talking and joking with this girl, I suppose the most popular of all the people I’ve really come to know. I suppose my behavior screamed out, “I’m so glad you’re talking to me, I’ll do whatever to please you.”

I shake my head now. If only I could treat everyone justly and fairly, and love everyone I come across. That would make all the difference. It says in the good book not to regard the rich greater than the poor.

And yet the world continues to turn round and round, thanks to money and charismatic leaders. Or so we think.