This post is likely to lose me some blog readers, and some friends on Facebook, so if you're willing to take that risk with me, read on.
I have been wrestling with some really hard thoughts lately, like down on my knees, crying to God to help here. Sunday, in our small group, a question that really crystalized the thoughts that I've been struggling with was asked:
"What is the 'Christian brand?' How do others see us?"
The first person to answer, gave a great answer, that its like a triangle he used to see someplace, that essentially said: "Love God, Love Others, Serve."
I love that answer. I just disagree. I wish it was that way, but in the present environment, I'm just not seeing it.
Then, this week, the whole World Vision thing happened. If you've been out of the loop, World Vision announced that they would allow Christians who are married and gay, to work for World Vision. Then the next day, after much public backlash, they reversed their decision.
It has been like a dam bursting in my soul.
OK, I'm not sure why World Vision went public with what was essentially an internal Human Resources policy revision. As an organization who's mission is to eliminate poverty, I don't know why they chose to make that stand publicly, because even I could have told you that there were going to be donors unhappy with that decision.
But whatever, this isn't actually about World Vision, or their decision.
I'm just overwhelmed by the amount of viciousness, hostility, and anger that Christians feel justified in expressing. Behind computers, and over the telephone (at least according to a contact I know within World Vision), Christians have no problem using vile, mean language, designed to wound. Condemning others to hell, making it their personal mission to "convict others of sin," etc. Jen Hatmaker has taken it on the chin this week on her blog, by other Christians. I've had this sort of stuff thrown at me, the mildest of which was in my own backyard when someone looked at me and said, "You voted Democrat? I thought you were a Christian!" (Yep, I did, and mostly do, and why is a topic for another day.)
What is perhaps worse, however, is the disturbing trend I see in the way Christians treat non-Christians and approach larger society. We have somehow allowed angry, loud people to represent us, who seem bent on using the Bible to beat non-believers into submission, railing against the lack of morality in society, claiming the harm (particularly those in gay-rights movement) other are perpetrating against them and their religion.
Here's the deal: just because someone disagrees with you doesn't mean you are being persecuted.
Frankly, I don't see a lot of Jesus in the ranting, and it's all I hear. The voice of reason went out the back door. It breaks my heart to know that non-Christians hear this, and believe that these people represent all Christians, represent our Jesus. As I posted on Facebook earlier this week, I highly doubt anyone felt the love of God while being pelted with stones by those who profess to follow Him. I honestly makes me want to reject the terms "Christian," and "evangelical." I believe I am those things by their definition, but I don't want to be associated with their connotation.
I don't mean that Christians should roll over and not ever stand up for what they believe is right, but how about being willing to listen to others, as you hope to be listened to? Are we drawing people to Jesus by our ranting and raving, or are we further proving people's negative perceptions of who we are, and worse, turning them away from Jesus?
The Jesus I know spent lots of time with kids, preaching love, talking forgiveness, (that whole "turn the other cheek" thing), eating a tax collector's homes, and pointing the way to a God that was radically different than what people expected. Despite expectations, he wasn't interested in running for office or starting a political revolution. He told people to pay their taxes (give Caesar what Caesar is due) and love their neighbor. He didn't spend a lot of time in policy, but he fed people when they were hungry. He never once mentioned homosexuality.
That's what I want people to think of when they think of Jesus. That's what I want the "Christian brand" to stand for. I don't know what to do about this - I don't have any solutions, but I just feel the need to push back against the anger and the yelling. To say "I'm sorry," to the people who have been so offended about how Christians say what they say, that there is no room to even have a conversation about the content. To find a better way. To heal my rapidly breaking heart.