Christianity is not…

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bibleI’ve seen a lot of things on Facebook from well-meaning Christians that, I truly believe, think they’re doing and believing the right things. And nobody can fault them for that, to an extent. We’re all taught things as we grow, and sometimes it is hard to break away from those teachings. It takes courage. It takes dedication. But most of all it takes desire. You have to want to learn new things, and challenge yourself. it doesn’t happen on its own, and, without one stepping out and taking a chance that what they currently believe might be wrong, nobody would ever learn anything.

In light of this, I would like to start a new series on my blog titled “Christianity is not…” where I will list three things in each post that Christianity is often equated with (either by those within the community or those who see it from an outsiders perspective) and discuss how they are not how Christianity should be. Many of them I may have believed in the past, but I took it upon myself to question them. I saw the potential dangers of them and began to question what I was taught. In the process, I learned a lot about myself, Jesus, and others.

I’ll be the first to admit that it’s hard and scary to change your beliefs. I’ve changed a great deal in the last few years. But there’s something freeing about it. When you allow yourself to challenge your own long-held beliefs and find something else, you not only gain a deeper understanding of your faith but of yourself. Sure, sometimes your long-held beliefs hold up. But they’re stronger because of the scrutiny. And sometimes they don’t. And that’s fine because now you have beliefs that are supported by knowledge you’ve personally obtained, and not simply what others have told you.

And yes, I’m just another person telling you things. So I implore you to take what I say and do your own research on it. It doesn’t have to be exhaustive. Just enough to give yourself a satisfying understanding of which side you fall on and why. Don’t just research my side, or your side if it’s different. Look up both. Find what resonates with you and why. No belief is real until you’ve done the work to figure out why it’s what you believe and not just what someone has told you what to believe.

And, now that I’ve rambled on enough, let’s begin with today’s two things that Christianity is not. I’m only doing two this time because they are tied so closely to each other, and are major issues on my social media feeds right now.

1… Violent
violentThankfully I don’t have many facebook friends with this viewpoint (as far as I know), but the fact that 41% of Trump supporters favor bombing Agrabah [1]Yes, that’s the country from Aladdin. Sauce. is alarming for two reasons.

  1. They want to bomb a country that doesn’t exist…[2]Also, they clearly haven’t seen Aladdin which is a sin in and of itself.
  2. That’s 4 times more people that support bombing a country than people who don’t.[3]9% don’t think it’s cool.

Yes, this is just within Trump supporters, but the Republican Party as a whole (which could easily be considered the Conservative Christian Party) 30% agree with bombing Agrabah while only 13% say it’s a bad thing. That’s still twice as many people in favor of bombing a country than those opposed.

Setting apart the fact that Agrabah doesn’t exist (which, I’ll be honest, is hard to do because it’s a pretty common movie) why do so many people favor bombing an entire country?

There’re a lot of people within mainstream Christianity that seem to think violence is the answer. Just the other week the president of Liberty University (the “Harvard of Christian Colleges”) said in response to the San Bernadino shootings-

if some of those people in that community center had had what I have in my back pocket right now… if more good people had concealed carry permits, then we could end those Muslims before they walk in…[4]video

And this wasn’t at some random thing. This was at the university convocation, where thousands of students and faculty were in attendance. AND THEY CHEERED. He went on to offer all students free conceal carry classes. I was a student of Liberty University’s Online Seminary but have since withdrawn because this is disgusting.

We’ve gotten so far from the gospel that we think it’s okay to say, in a recorded, public setting, that we should, “end those Muslims.”

Now, I don’t want to spend too long rambling on and on, because most of you are either skimming or already left the page at this point. But I do have a question. When did the words of Jesus get lost in the shuffle? When did our perceived right to own a gun[5]and yes, I did mean to qualify that, and desire for revenge become more important than the words of the person after whom we are basing our faith? I’m talking about these verses which we so easily ignore when we say things like Falwell did.

  • Matthew 5:44 [6]But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! (NLT)
  • Luke 6:27 [7]But to you who are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you. (NLT)
  • Luke 6:35 [8]Love your enemies! Do good to them. Lend to them without expecting to be repaid. Then your reward from heaven will be very great, and you will truly be acting as children of the Most High, for he is kind to those who are unthankful and wicked. (NLT)
  • Matthew 26:52 [9]“Put away your sword,” Jesus said to him. “Those who use the sword will die by the sword.” (NLT)
  • Jeremiah 22:3 [10]This is what the lord says: Be fair-minded and just. Do what is right! Help those who have been robbed; rescue them from their oppressors. Quit your evil deeds! Do not mistreat foreigners, orphans, and widows. Stop murdering the innocent! (NLT)

And for those who will seek to pull from the Old Testament (I won’t discuss the merits of not doing so), what about Hosea 1:7- “But I will show love to the people of Judah. I will free them from their enemies- not with weapons and armies or horses and charioteers, but by my power as the lord their God.” (NLT. Emphasis added) Even God was rescuing people without armies back in times where war and violence were the only constants.

And yet, here we are in what we call a civilized society, reverting back to things God continuously tells us to stray from. What’s wrong with us?

2… Discriminatory
discriminatoryFrom the same poll referenced earlier, we see that 54% of the GOP support banning Muslim entry to the counter, 46% support a national database of Muslims, and 41% think the Japanese internment was a good thing.[11]for a glimpse of what this could like into today’s world, check out my book: the clemency camps.

Quick, someone please find me one time where Jesus was discriminatory. I’ll wait while you look.

I bet you couldn’t find any.

that’s because Christ welcomed all.

There are Christian colleges petitioning to discriminate against LGBT+ students.[12]sauce And yet even Jesus met with whore at the well by himself which was a big no-no in their day. We can’t allow people we disagree with into our schools, but he will break all bounds of discrimination? What’s wrong with us.

Beyond simply discriminating against those within the church with whom we disagree, Christianity is about helping others. FIRST AND FOREMOST. Whether they’re Christian or not, we are commanded, beyond a shadow of a doubt, to help those in need. Don’t believe me? Let’s look at some more verses.

  • Matthew 5:42 [13]Give to those who as, and don’t turn away those who want to borrow. (NLT)
  • Psalms 17:7 [14]Show me your unfailing love in wonderful ways. By your mighty power you rescue those who seek refuge from their enemies. (NLT)
  • Psalms 146:9 [15]the Lord protects the foreigners among us. He cares for the orphans and widows, but he frustrates the plans of the wicked. (NLT)
  • Deuteronomy 10:18 [16]He ensures that orphans and widows receive justice. He shows love to the foreigners living among you and gives them food and clothing. (NLT)
  • Deuteronomy 24:20-21 [17]When you beat the olives from your olive trees, don’t go over the boughs twice. Leave the remaining olives for the foreigners, orphans, and widows. When you gather the grapes in your vineyard, don’t glean the vines after they are picked. Leave the remaining grapes for the foreigners, orphans, and widows. (NLT)
  • Jeremiah 7:5-6 [18]But I will be merciful only if you stop your evil thoughts and deeds and start treating each other with justice; only if you stop exploiting foreigners, orphans, and widows; only if you stop your murdering; and only if you stop harming yourselves by worshiping idols. (NLT)
  • James 1:27 [19]Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you. (NLT)
  • Jeremiah 22:3 [20]This is what the lord says: Be fair-minded and just. Do what is right! Help those who have been robbed; rescue them from their oppressors. Quit your evil deeds! Do not mistreat foreigners, orphans, and widows. Stop murdering the innocent! (NLT)
  • Matthew 25:40 [21]“And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’ (NLT)

There are probably hundreds more, but you get the point. All throughout the Bible God is asking us to care for others. Orphans. Widows. Foreigners. Everyone. And we’re ignoring that command because it’s more comfortable to to say they can’t come in because we’re afraid. That’s not cool.

We, as a whole Christian community, love to quote the parable about the narrow path. Perhaps most of us have missed that path, though. Perhaps those who practice violence and discrimination are on the wide path but think they’re on the narrow path. I even had one person try to tell me that it’s okay to bomb ISIS and the like because they do it to us. That. Is the DEFINITION of the wide path.

I wanna end this discussion with a video that I know 90% of Christians have seen before. Let’s not forget the lessons that Veggietales taught us about loving people, no matter what.

PS. This comment on the video is pure gold:
Screen Shot 2015-12-20 at 10.50.56 AM

Grace and Peace,
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