A blogger friend posted a comment on her facebook page this week in support of someone. There was nothing in the comment about church, religion, any denomination, nor was there anything confrontational or mean in her statement. Oh, she did mention God at the end of her post saying,
“God permits all that happens to happen as it does for a designed purpose. And if we’re always in the midst of God’s will, how can we not rejoice?”
I must admit that is a pretty radical statement. (In case you didn’t catch it, that was sarcasm.) What happened next was a tirade by several people who kept going for over 45 comments. Another post earlier that day sparked even more comments. As I read the comment flow, I was confused and hurt. Some of the comments were mean, hateful, argumentative, and the writers identified themselves as Christians.
It took me back to a time in my life when people who were Christ followers showed the same mean and hateful attitude towards me. I quoted a line from the movie Blue Like Jazz in a blog. The main character is talking with an atheist, “Do you forgive me,” he asks, “for misrepresenting God?” I believe the people who wrote the comments and those that turned their backs on me were misrepresenting God and Jesus.
My problem is that I believed what they told me rather than seeking the truth for myself. I remember the last time I went to church in 1986. I had been condemned, shunned, and judged too guilty to be a part of the church. It was like being divorced when I still wanted very much to make the marriage work. I was sad, angry, and alone-very much alone. I believed that “they” represented God and Jesus, so must have been right.
I eventually began to believe that God hadn’t abandoned me, even if “they” had, and that perhaps “they” were wrong. I have been searching, learning, and growing for the past twenty-five years. As I become more open, teachers come into my life. I finally have a relationship with God that is not based on fear.
I am not here to argue doctrine, theology, or religion. I can quote scripture with the best, discuss doctrine, and answer every Jeopardy question on “the Bible”. I held every position in the church allowed to a woman during the years in my denomination. I served as a Home Missionary in West Va. and took some classes while my husband was in Seminary. I certainly can hold my own in a discussion.
I wonder what Jesus would have said in the comment flow. I imagine he would be thoughtful, loving, and open. That is how he dealt with the woman caught in adultery, the woman at the well, Judas, and Peter. In fact, it seems the only people Jesus spoke harshly to were the Pharisees. Among the last words of Jesus were, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34) He didn’t argue, accuse, or chastise.
I don’t understand the anger directed at people who are seeking the truth. Perhaps they haven’t arrived at your truth. But I doubt they will even consider it if met with hostility and hate. I can’t change the words that were written to the people on these facebook posts, I can’t take back the words of those who condemn others to hell, I can’t take back the hurt people have felt because of the hurtful words and actions. I can only keep seeking the truth. I can be willing to share what I have learned if you ask. I can disagree with you in a loving and caring way.
I expect some to attack my words here. I won’t argue, I won’t fight back, I won’t hate, and I won’t accept your words as truth. I am not a label or a doctrine. As a friend said in his blog, “I’ve come home to me, …… I understand who and what I am…..”
You can safely assume you’ve created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do.”
― Anne Lamott