I Quit Calling Myself A Christian

 

love, quit_calling_myself_Christian

 

I’m not calling myself a Christian anymore. I can no longer relate to or fit within the Christian religion, whose primary concern is the institution of the church. I can no longer identify with the folks whose perception of and belief in Jesus is solely for their personal gain — salvation. Like the religious leaders of Jesus’ time, the greater part of the Christian religion has shunned the life of Jesus. It seems as though Christians only accept his death and resurrection, which is their escape from an eternal lake of fire* into a realm where they’ll live in mansions and walk on streets of gold. They ignore the life Jesus lived, the example he set. Instead, the Christian religion is all about personal gain.

These days, instead of calling myself a Christian, I prefer to say I am loved by God. This is a bit of a step apart from the religious denominations in which I spent most of my life. Those denominations say God is love but live as though he is angry and full of wrath, ready to bring judgment and justice upon anyone who doesn’t believe the way they believe. That’s not the God I’ve experienced. In all my questioning during my years away from the institutional church, I’ve discovered a God who is patient and tender and loving, whose existence is love. In experiencing that God, I’ve been learning to love myself. I’ve learned that my worth is already within me.

I used to find my worth in my religious beliefs, in my church involvement, in my righteousness. All those things eventually got stripped away. When I was left standing naked with nowhere to turn, Love changed me into the person I was meant to be. To be clear, the stripping away was painful and awkward and lonely and left scars, but I wouldn’t dare pick up what was stripped away and clothe myself again with them. It was like being set free from a straight jacket.

Freedom is found in love . . . the kind of love that sets others free, that gives everyone permission to be who they’re meant to be. It’s a love that breaks religious rules and makes the religious crowd angry. It’s a love willing to embrace those rejected by the church. It’s a love so strong religious leaders have tried for centuries to put it to death. It’s like the country song Aaron Barker wrote (made famous by Randy Travis): It’s a love without end, amen.

 

*If you’re interested in finding out more about a view of hell that isn’t a lake of fire, read chapter nine of Steve McVey’s book, Beyond An Angry God

 

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