i still talk to Jesus

A lot has changed in my life since March, as I’m sure is true for many of you.

I’ve made decisions, and I’ve done so much growing and thinking that sometimes I wonder if the thoughts will come out of my ears.

I’ve realized my relationship with God has been different these days than before; I understand more than ever before how paralyzing it is to feel far away from God. My heart aches for the ones that don’t have any hope at all. Sometimes I sincerely wonder if I really even know Him, and it’s those kinds of thoughts that I can hardly write.

I stopped believing for a while.

The world is so big that I think some Christians (even me) have had to make it small enough to fit into their minds. Yes, even me. Yes with Love.

I’ve been terrified that the world is too much for me to take in that I’ve intentionally made it small so it could be easier to brave. However, I’m learning more these days about how toxic it is to lean into that “it’s a small world” frame of mind. The reality is the total opposite: the world is so big and terrifying that it can hold happiness, love, pain, joy, and heartache in its hands simultaneously. I mean, in that sense, to make the world small begins a disservice and unravels into a lie, and it’s a great privilege to be able to see the world like that.

To make the world small is to make God small, and when we do this, we cease to see God as He really is– we cease to see the world as it really is, and it becomes a place that only exists as we experience it.

I don’t think the Bible was written to be read like that.

And it’s that mindset that prevents true healing and reconciliation toward all walks of life. Allowing the world to exist as a single point of view allows us to believe we know the best, we know the worst, and therefore, that we can tell others how to live in it.

Which is antithetical to the Gospel.

Yet, how many of us have fallen into this trap? The world is as we see it rather than how God created it?

When did we start to see people as sinners first and humans second?

I am so deeply disturbed by how the Church has perpetuated hateful stereotypes and, frankly, hatred in all of its shapes and sizes.

It disturbed me so much that I rejected “Christianity.” I still talked to Jesus, but I wanted nothing with the rest.

I remember my first semester at Kent State when my church tried to open an honest conversation about the reality of racism in the U.S and the horrific role the Church has placed in it. I was delighted to be a part of a community that practiced open confession and repentance. There wasn’t a hint of “it’s not like we did those things,” there was only “this happened, so how can we make it better?”

But my heart still breaks for the people that claimed the Church had no role in social justice. As if Jesus Himself didn’t fight for the oppressed, as if He didn’t help the marginalized communities of His age. Everyone could agree it was wrong, but no one could agree that it was our place to be allies.

Meanwhile, black and indigenous people of color were and are being targeted by the police, and being in the wrong place at the wrong time, in the wrong clothes, born in the “wrong” skin, has become a reason to be killed.

In the wake of the more recent murders of Breonna Taylor, Elijah McClain, and George Floyd, I feel an even greater sense of urgency.

Most evangelicals won’t even admit that they were murdered.

I wonder how Jesus would maneuver these conversations between the church and all marginalized communities. And I continue to see examples of the wrong way––it has to be the wrong way. Too many Christians still believe we ought to do nothing; too many Christians won’t say that Black lives matter.

The Jesus I know was not a do-nothing-man.

I hear a thousand different right and wrong ways to go about healing these inflictions.

And the way the wounds cut deeper than I could ever know proves only to distract me more from the Light. These wounds draw further than the systemic racism embedded in our country.

I think about the LGBTQ+ community as well. I grew up in a conservative community; I didn’t know any more than what I was being told. I grew up hearing gay people went to Hell; gay people were an abononation.

Now I sit here, and I all I can think about is how many people grew up hearing that and have taken their lives. The church should have done better. I should have done better. Suicide rates in LGBTQ teens are higher than any other demographic; I am hardly apprehensive to suggest that most of them have heard a thousand times already that God won’t love them if they’re gay.

The depth that the gatekeeping of the Gospel runs so deep in the veins of western Christianity.

So I’m rejecting it.

I see so much hurt and I confess I don’t know how to make any of it better or different. I confess I’ve contributed to the wounds of marginalized people. I’ve been racist, I’ve been homophobic.

So now, I’m going to believe in Jesus––not His people. I’m going to follow Jesus––not His people. He said to love one another. Take care of the widows and orphans. Do what is right.

In all of the accounts of the life of Jesus, I haven’t studied a single point in which He got His point across with hatred or rejection.

I met up with a friend for a [socially distant] coffee and chat a few months ago. I’ve been experiencing these feelings of distance from God and the burden of the pain caused by the Church, so it was refreshing to open up about my thoughts to someone that wouldn’t judge me for having them. We talked about how these have been issues the Church has faced forever, and in light of the Coronavirus, we now have no excuse or distractions. We are being forced to see the horrors of the World. We have no “place” to hide anymore– no schedule, no real routine, no reason not to see.

I’ve been working on this blog post for awhile; I’ve been turning over in my head how to word it and how what I write could be interpreted.

The truth is, I thought God hated me for a long time because of these feelings. I don’t know, maybe you’ve been there? I got into this headspace that God wouldn’t love me if I opened myself up to the things I’ve been putting away my whole life. I cried in my car for forty minutes one night after work, and I just wondered why God would hate me if He had let me believe He loved me for so long? I’ve realized since then that God does love me; that isn’t determined by the world around me, or by the people that say He wouldn’t. My faith isn’t made illegitimate because of *blank*. It’s just the Gospel.

I’m thankful for those I’ve been able to open up to, and for the believers that have loved me and guided me.

I’ve been happier since I’ve accepted myself and these things; I know it’s right because of the peace I feel between myself and God.

The world is a mess right now. Christians vote the same way as white supremacists, they paint white Jesus on their Facebook posts and over their American flags.

I keep thinking the only reason I still believe in Jesus is that He isn’t American. And ya know, if you don’t like that, it’s okay. But it’s still going to be true.

I don’t think Jesus would hate black people; I don’t think He would condemn the LGBTQ+ community.

And if you think He would, I don’t think we know the same Jesus.

I’m going to be practicing love in the way Jesus did.

grace and peace

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