How I saw it…

I’m confused.  I guess the best way to start this little conversation is to admit that from the get go.

Growing up in the church can do things to a person.  For some it scars them.  They get out of High School, head to college, and never look back.  I feel bad when I hear about that happening, I know it does, and there are real valid reasons for it.  Just feels sad that a place that is supposed to help you live the life that you were designed to ends up being a place that you run from.  I never really felt wounded by the church I grew up in, or the people that were there.  Pastor John was such an amazing influence in my life, such a man of God, when I started down this whole pastoral path, there was an example of care and concern and service that could be aspired too. But…

Things started to unravel.  I began to see things differently than the denomination I grew up in.  I began to have questions about why things were the way they were.  I started to wonder and poke and prod and in doing so I began to see cracks in the denomination.  Now don’t get me wrong,  look hard enough and there are cracks in every denomination.  Every time you add humans to the mix when it comes to a relationship with God there are going to be cracks.  I stepped away because for me the cracks were hampering my relationship with God and others.  They had the potential to make me into someone that I didn’t want to be, and while I never left a relationship with God, I did step away from the church that introduced me to God.  I love the memories that come from my time in church growing up. The time praying, the time at camp, and at youth group and conventions.  I am proud of the work that I did while still in the denomination.  I look at what was accomplished, at all of it and while there are things that I would change there are things that make me a better Christ follower today that have their roots in my upbringing…and yet things did unravel. I began to see past some of the things that “God Said” to find that in digging a little deeper it may not be as simple as the interpretation given.

I began to wonder at the disconnect I saw between serving others because it’s what Jesus wants, and serving others because in doing so they owe you a listen.  I started to question why some people were welcome whole heartedly into the faith and some were “prayed for” in love that God would really prepare their hearts to receive His message.  That they would accept the correction that came from God into their lives…I watched as entire churches fell prey to the idea that our country was founded as a Christian Nation, as opposed to one that was founded on Biblical Principles.  There is a difference.  I stopped wanting prayer in schools, started to question capital punishment, and began to realize that context is everything when studying the Bible.  I started to understand that for me there is a difference between endorsing something and recognizing that the very rights that assure me the ability to worship and study, and question, and protest for “Christian” values, also afford those same rights to others.  I began to understand that it’s possible to support a woman’s right to choose and still feel that life is precious and should be cherished, nurtured and cared for, all life not just new life.

I disagree with people all the time when it comes to these and other issues, but disagreement does not mean I need to make them see it my way, to force them to accept Jesus on my terms because every time I stick my terms into the very real and amazing gospel that will change a persons life, I am watering it down.  Every time I try and qualify exactly what the word whosoever means, I am telling God that he messed up in His inspiration of John 3:16, that he should have done some “extreme vetting.”

All this seems to be coming to a head here in 2017 and it’s coming at the intersection of faith and politics.  I find myself getting more and more frustrated at old friends seemingly blind support of our president.  Lies are renamed alternative facts, the women’s march is talked about as pointless, conspiracy theories are now accepted by many that I know and love as fact.  There is no ability to dialog because the moment you question what is going on the claws come out and instead of answering the question they attack, blame, and rip apart the previous administration.

Looking at what has happened in the first eight days of the new presidents administration is frightening to me an many people like me.  Instead of doing things to answer those concerns, instead of attempting some kind of reconciliation the vast majority of people from my past and many who support the administration say things like “buckle up.”  or “We won get over it.” Meanwhile the president is taking a sledgehammer not just to the previous administrations policies but to constitutional rights afforded in the very amendment that Christians use when they don’t want the government telling them how to worship, when to worship, and what their faith means and looks like.  In case we need a refresher on that amendment here it is.

amendment_1

That’s a bit hard to read but I wanted to put that in there to show how long this has been a foundation principle.  Here’ is the text in a readable state…

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.[1]

 If the past eight days are any indication this entire ideal, an ideal that our country was founded upon, the ideal that allows NOW, and GLADD and Westborro Baptist, and The Family Research Council, and Locust Point Community Church, and Liberty Assembly, and CAIR, and fill in the blank is a suggestion instead of a founding principle.  What we say matters, we all know this and yet for some reason our President gets a pass on these issues.
I feel such a disconnect from people I know and love from the past.  I read what they say on Facebook, I read comments to posts that I make and I get frustrated because what I see Jesus doing, and what I see them supporting don’t add up.  What I see happening flies in the face of what we read in the Old and New Testaments.
ezekiel-blog
I read this and I look at our country and many of the Christian leaders and people I know supporting it and this is what I see…
The thing is others don’t, and while I can’t imagine how these things aren’t clear to anyone watching what is going on, to anyone taking the time to read the executive orders being signed on a regular basis, to anyone that is willing to dig a bit deeper, I do understand.  Which brings me back to the beginning of this particular post.
God’s word tells us to work out our own salvation. It’s important to attend Church, it’s important to have fellowship with others, but it’s also important to go beyond what your pastor says.  The moment we relegate our growth as a Christ follower to what we hear on Sunday and in modern worship songs, we stop growing.  We become a danger to Christianity because instead of living the word of God, we are living the word of the church and pastor we attend.  I spend a lot of time studying and praying for the sermons I preach on Sunday’s, I step into the pulpit and I share what that study and prayer has pushed into my hear for the people I serve, but I also know that there are times that I get it wrong, that I misinterpret, that I misrepresent, not because I want to but because I am human and I don’t see things clearly, or face to face but through a glass lens that is warped and smudged and dirty with my own thoughts, feelings, prejudices and leanings.  I always want my people to go home and dig in a bit more, to read the text and talk to God and learn for themselves what God is saying.
I could be wrong, I could be missing the boat when it comes to my fear and misgivings about our President, and yes I said our…I’m not about to suggest that President Trump isn’t my president, he may not be my choice but he is my president…but isn’t it also possible, just maybe that his most ardent supporters could be wrong too?   That’s what is so off-putting to me in this whole thing.  The apparent blind support of a person who has had a past that would make all the dads in my audience with daughters, sit on the front steps cleaning their shotgun…

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