That's the opening line on a blog I read this week. It's not a pleasant read at all.
However, I still appreciate it, because she tells the truth, and because I know it mirrors the unspoken feelings of many people that I know, including friends, and some who used to be Christians themselves. And, at times, it has mirrored my own feelings.
This week I sat as someone I love told me that she thinks the Jesus stuff she used to believe is all a fairy tale. I know, because I've seen it before, that if she continues to move away from Christianity she will probably increasingly dislike Christians.
That's tough, folks. It's always been hard for me to deal with, and it still is. Partly because I'm a people pleaser and I very much want people to approve of what I believe and like me (yes, I know that's negative, I'm just being honest here). Partly also because I really do believe it all, and so I mourn with someone doesn't have or is walking away from what I believe is the very thing that is the meaning and purpose of life itself.
In many ways it makes sense that many people don't like Christianity or Christians if they aren't one themselves. For one thing, Jesus makes exclusive claims. Christians believe He is is the "Way, the Truth, and the Life", and that there is no way to God outside of Him. It's rather clear and rather un-postmodern, and people would much rather we believe that He is A way rather than THE way. It's all just pretty uncompromising - and I don't apologize for that.
But really, that's not the heart of what the blogger that wrote "I don't like Christians" is saying. This is from her blog:
Having lived my life among Christians, watching them from the outside, I’ve noticed a common thread among most. The closer ones claims to be to God, the farther one is from their fellow human beings. The man who preaches the longest about Jesus in a Sunday sermon is often the one who kicks a homeless man and tells him to get a job. The one who clutches her hands and comes to tears over the “lost souls” turns her nose up at the desperate masses right in front of her.
I am afraid that too often she is right. My own crisis of faith came not from any any doubt about theology or WHAT I believe about God or Jesus or a particular tenant of our faith (though eventually I had to deal with that). My crisis of faith came from looking around at the church here in the USA and being totally aghast. What I believe was vastly different from what is often represented by "Christians" here in the USA. Maybe that's true in most places, but I can only critique my own culture. I pretty much thought, "I don't like Christians" myself, and then wondered how I could believe in Christ if I didn't like His people, the ones who supposedly represented Him.
I've gotten past that, mostly because I was only seeing one side of things. It's true that there's a lot of people that are either bad Christians or fake Christians or perhaps just broken people just like everyone else, but there's also a lot of beauty and love that you see when you're looking for it. I mean, my friend that talked about all the Jesus stuff being a fairy tale? The people that have loved her most and walked with her the closest through a lot of pain are Christians. So you know - she may not like a lot about Christians, but she has also been buoyed by their love through huge personal struggles.
Still, I find this immensely convicting personally and for our culture. Whenever our "faith" makes us more self-absorbed in a Christian culture instead of moving us out to PEOPLE, then something within that faith is WRONG. That's why I push back or hesitate whenever there's a church program I'm thinking of getting into. Some Bible Study is good, but if I allow myself to be sucked into an entirely "Christian" world, then I have left where Jesus intended for the Church to be.
It's tough on an individual level. My closest friends that have walked away from faith have a tough time being quite as intimate with me, simply because the very core of who we are is now different, and we know it. I still love them, they still love me, but when we come to the point of really talking, most of my motivations and passions are connected to my faith directly and theirs are most definitely NOT. It makes sense - we always gravitate towards people like ourselves. It requires effort and commitment to keep going what once came naturally.
But really, it isn't about what is easy or most natural. My belief and my faith is the center of my life, but how it changes me should be into someone characterized by a deep, life-changing love and grace and joy. Am I that person? No. But I hope I am somewhere on that path to be like my Jesus. I desperately don't want to be a "church person", even though I do want to love the Church. I want to marked by a love for those that suffer, for those that are lost, for the poor, for my neighbors, for the refugees on Park Lane, the freshman girl who is alone and confused, for the people in the apartment next to mine, for the lady that serves Isaac and I at the Mexican restaurant every Tuesday, and.. and.. and...
It's absolutely amazing that we have twisted things so that our faith makes us more calloused and separated from other people. At its very core, the love of God is a love that reaches out into humanity and interacts, pours out grace and love, and redeems from brokenness. The evidence of our God in us is shown when we love like He does.