My Feelings on Religion.

24 Oct

Because this has been bothering me a lot lately for some reason. And I haven’t written in awhile. Soooooooo. Here you go :)

I’m pretty irritated with religion in general at this point in time. It has become so twisted and backwards and I truly feel like the majority of church folk have completely lost touch with the entire purpose of their belief in the first place. If you ever read my facebook statuses, you’ll know that just recently I posted a status that went along the lines of.. “I’m pretty sure that the entire purpose of Christianity is supposed to be about forgiveness, grace, and freedom– not guilt, bondage, and condemnation…” Right?! I mean, aren’t we taught from a young age that Jesus loves everyone? And yet somewhere along the line we all grew up and suddenly felt that it’s our place to decide who Jesus does and doesn’t love based on what church we go to, what nationality we are, what our history is, etc. I’m sorry, but I have a newsflash for you– as much as you think you deserve the grace of God because of your good deeds and polite disposition and regular church attendance, you don’t. No one does. We as Christians have this sense of entitlement but the truth is that you are no more entitled to eternal life than drug-pushing pimp down the street. You’re just not. I’m sorry. We were all born sinners and we are all human and we are all completely and hopelessly inadequate when it comes to earning your way into Heaven. If we could earn our way in, and figure out this world on our own, I’m pretttty sure that God could’ve skipped the whole sending Jesus to Earth thing. John 14:6 says “Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.'” Did you get that? He said no one comes to the Father on their own. No one. Grace is born through Christ and Christ alone, and ability to humble yourself, repent, and accept forgiveness is far more important than trying to live a perfect life. Or worse, actually believing that you live a perfect life.

I saw a billboard somewhere that said something about how God prefers honest atheists over hypocritical believers. Obviously that’s not biblical but it kind of makes sense, I mean, in the Bible, wasn’t it the Pharisees that Jesus had the harshest words for? The men who held themselves in high regard, making a show of their prayer and fasting in order to show everyone else how much “better” Christians they were? Matthew 23 holds some pretty strong opinions towards the Pharisees by Jesus himself. In verse 13, Jesus rebukes the religious leaders, saying “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.”  And through verse 37, six more times Jesus reprimands them, each starting with “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites!”, and at the end of the chapter, addressing them as “You snakes! You brood of vipers!”. I mean, I’m just saying, that it doesn’t sound like He was all too crazy about them. And I wonder why? So many churches today have fallen into that category, of those who shut the door of the kingdom of Heaven in people’s faces, not allowing those to enter who are trying to. STOP! It drives me crazy. Did you have any part of the decision to be born into a Christian home? Are you in any way responsible for the fact that you were raised in a sheltered living, never having to brush shoulders with any true adversity? I’m not saying that it’s a bad thing to have been a believer since you were just a child. Obviously I myself was raised in a Christian home, and consider myself lucky to have been. But what about those who weren’t? What about those who have walked on the dark side of life? What about those who have done some truly horrible things, and only came to know Christ later in life? Are we to condemn them for that? Luke 15:7 says, “I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.” Like, I’m pretty sure God is PUMPED when some crazy old person that we look at as being too messy for church actually turns to Him! What a party, right?! Yet that same person sets one foot into a church and is instantly judged, ignored, or even worse, openly rejected. Of course not all churches are like this but it’s troublesome how many actually are. How many think that they can look at someone and judge on face value whether or not this person deserves the same love and grace as the rest of the church. It’s horrible. And so hypocritical. And so disgustingly selfish and self-entitled.

That’s one of the things I love about the church I attend here in Duluth (shout out, Duluth Vineyard!). Because they are so open and welcoming of everyone. I can’t remember who said this, I think it was a pastor at Vineyard, but I always remember this quote as being so true– Churches are NOT a Christian Country Club. That’s not the point. To gather all the Christians with their perfect little Sunday smiling faces, and become so self-inclusive that eventually you’re basically irrelevant to the rest of the world, that’s not what spreading the Gospel is. Sure it’s great to have church functions and fellowship with those around you, but that should by no means be the majority of church functions. At the Vineyard, they do so many awesome outreach events, like a free harvest party for everyone in the community, a food shelf housed right in the church, prison ministries, a free spa day for less fortunate women around Duluth, and even a free MEDICAL day where people in the community that may not be able to afford medical attention can come to the church and get it, free of charge. Every year at the Vineyard around Memorial weekend they host what’s called the “Blessing of the Bikes”. And basically they fill the ENTIRE parking lot with motorcycles, have this big barbeque and worship service, and basically pray over all of the bikes/bikers for safety in the upcoming season. It’s so cool. And maybe it’s just me, but being in a sanctuary packed with  hundreds of big, scruffy, weathered-looking, tatted up biker dudes, all praising God so purely and openly, gives me chills more than your average conservative suit-and-tie church service going on at every other church that morning (and I am not, by any means, criticizing that kind of a service). It’s just the most awesome experience ever. That’s outreach. That is the Gospel of Christ. Jesus didn’t come to Earth to go to dinner parties with the Pharisees, he was out there interacting with the lowest of the low of that time. Dinner with a tax collector, talking to the Samaritan woman, allowing a woman who was deemed literally “untouchable” to come up to him and grab his cloak for healing. Jesus hung out with sinners on a regular basis, and through that acceptance, crazy things happened for the kingdom. I’m not saying that Christians should spend so much time with unbelievers to the point of beginning to condone sinful habits and even take part in them, but if you don’t have ANY friends who are non-believers, you really need to re-evaluate how much of a contribution you are actually making to better the kingdom. But really, I hate to break it to you, just because you are better at hiding your dirty habits than the next guy, doesn’t mean they are any less dirty. I’m just saying.

I guess I don’t know how I want to end this or even where I was going in general, I’m just kind of blabbing off the top of my head. I’m just so sick of how judgmental, condemning, and just plain MEAN so many “Christians” have become. And because I’m saying to be more accepting and welcoming, I’m not saying that sinful behavior should be ignored/condoned, I’m just saying that such rude and downright disrespectful treatment of those around you that you consider “sinners” (newsflash– try looking in the mirror next time too!) is not doing you any good. No one is going to look at a “Christian” who is so hateful and judgmental towards so many people and think to themselves, “Wow! That Jesus thing looks really great! I think I’m going to try that!”. Acting in such a way is painting a horribly inaccurate picture of who Jesus truly is, and how dare you use religion as an excuse for such behavior. I mean, really? The whole “God Hates Fags” thing? Bombing abortion clinics? Standing on street corners holding signs and screaming at passer-bys that they’re going to hell? Yeah. Good luck with that. We’ll see where that gets you. I can tell you one thing for sure, it’s definitely not winning you any points with the people you are supposedly trying to witness to, and I think it’s safe to say that God’s not a huge fan of you putting words in his mouth telling everyone who he does and doesn’t love. Which brings me full circle back to the point that whether you like it or not, God loves everyone, and he has a deep and passionate desire to see every. single. person. come to relationship with him. And some people are offended by that. Because you think you’re better than the guy next door, but you’re not, you’re no more entitled to eternal life than he is. So why put so much time and effort into trying to shut him out? Or worse, convincing him that he deserves to be shut out rather than invited in? That’s not love. That’s not Christianity. That’s not Jesus. It’s just not. I’m sorry.

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One Response to “My Feelings on Religion.”

  1. Rosemary Barringer March 7, 2014 at 7:16 pm #

    Late to the party as usual, sorry for the delayed comment! Yes, yes, yes!

    Is the evangelical church on it’s way into the ditch, and if so, is it too late to pull us back onto the road? Here are some observations from our time searching for a church home when we moved here:
    1. Many churches do have working plans and vision for evangelism and service, but much of it was “safe” and selective. It is far easier to love the “orphan and the widow” than the addicted, the broken, the damaged. YAY Duluth Vineyard for being so open to all the others… sounds a lot like the church Paul worked to build in the NT. He was fearless, no place was off-limits, and he was “all things to all men” to make Christ known.
    2. America has become a soft, spoiled consumer driven culture, and the church seems to be following right along, the antithesis to being “in” but not “of” the culture. What are we zealous for besides “stuff”? Where is our zeal for sharing Jesus’ love? Where is our zeal for holiness?
    3. Many of the churches have begun to reflect Facebook with their mile wide/inch deep messages (spoken and lived), while hurting people refuse to admit they’re hurting so that they won’t be judged.
    It’s heartbreaking, but God is bigger than our man-made mistakes.
    I love your mind!

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