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Thursday, March 24, 2011

A Scary Truth

So I'm REALLY nervous about writing this post because it's a super controversial topic. However, I have a bone to pick with the Christian community.  This is my community, so that's what makes me nervous, but it's something that has to be talked about. So if I step on anyone's toes I am very very sorry, but the truth hurts.
One of my friends from elementary school is an open atheist and the more I talk to him about it the more and more I feel like he has some big misconceptions about Christianity.

For starters, as Christians, we are all by nature hypocrites.  But we have a big problem claiming that title.  Of course our intention is to be as true to our religion as possible.  The only problem with that is that we are ALL sinners.  Every last one of us sins. I don't care if you're the pope, a homeless man, black, white, or Dr. Phil. You are a sinner.  It's tough to really admit to that and to own it, but if you think about it I'm sure you sin every single day. I know I do.  Whether it's judging someone, cutting someone down, or accidently idolizing Johnny Depp, I sin.  For some reason we, as Christians, like to portray ourselves as some kind of miracle to the world that does no wrong.  Maybe that's good in the respect that it encourages us to do less wrong, but think how intimidating that is to non-Christians.  There's no way that would make me want to become a believer if the standard was being perfect all the time.  Plus, it's part of why God is so beautiful.  He sets this goal for us that He knows we can't achieve but hopes that it will help us grow into better people.
"For all have sinned; all fall short of God's glorious standard." (Romans 3:23)

The next thing gets really sticky and icky. Church.  I know just as much as every other Christian how vital church is, but at the same time, I get how uncomfortable it can be.  Here's my problem with it.  When being a "good Christian" becomes dependent on going to church.  Now stop what you're thinking right now.  What I mean is that I don't like it when people say "I go to church" as a response to are you a Christian.  Being a Christian isn't about how many times you went to church or how many Bible verses you have memorized.  It's about your relationship with God.  That's it.  Don't get me wrong here, please.  Church and the Bible are two of the BIGGEST tools for a Christian.  The problem is when someone that isn't a Christian that doesn't go to church and doesn't read the Bible decides they want to change their life it gets confusing.

Of course there's no set list of rules to get into heaven but the way I have been taught and what I believe is that church is a community for believers to learn from each other's experiences.  Then the Bible is a source of God's word and stories that help us through tough times and teach us how to live.  Both of them have the purpose of bringing us closer to God. So I'm here to tell you that you can have the entire Bible memorized word for word in three different versions and two languages and it doesn't matter unless you use it to advance your relationship with God.

I guess my real problem with how we treat Christianity is that we have tried to take the passion from it and just make is like a class in school.  Not everyone, but just enough to make a difference.  It just scares me that someone could be lost and finally turn to God for help and then be pushed away by the way religion is presented.  So if you're a Christian, next time you see someone new in church make them feel welcome, even if they're dressed in rags.  Or if someone asks you about sin, tell them how much you sin, it will let them know we aren't perfection robots in a cult.  Be the community that God wants us to be.
"And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all". (1 Thessalonians 5:14)

And if this struck a chord for you and you realized that maybe you've misinterpreted the reason we become Christians, just take a step back and ask yourself, "What's my goal as a Christian?". Hopefully it is to go to heaven.  Then start from there.  There are a bazillion resources out there and it can be scary and confusing, so find someone you trust and talk to them about it.  And when you don't know what else to do, just pray. God will be there.

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