Last week I wrote a blog called Painfully Labeled. At the end of the post, I shared some labels I had chosen for my life. Feminist, courageous, understanding, compassionate, writer, friend, good mother and grandmother, seeker, and wise woman were the labels I shared. I then asked the question, “Do you label others before you know their truth?” A reader posted a comment that began, “I am so glad to hear you’re gaining confidence and self-worth. =) I sincerely hope one day you can add, ‘follower of Christ’ to that list.”
The comment popped up on my laptop while I was having a text conversation with my friend. I shared it with her and shared my confusion about a comment “labeling me before knowing my truth.” I told her I wanted to respond and she agreed. I answered her comment with, “While I appreciate your comments, I wonder why you would assume I am not a follower of Christ?”
I obviously have not been able to let this go. In my mind, all the labels I shared are ones I associate with a “follower of Christ.” Please understand that I am not angry with the commenter, just puzzled. I wonder what about my post or the labels I choose made her think I was not a follower of Christ. Do I need to put the bumper sticker on my car, wear a “Jesus” shirt, own a WWJD bracelet, and carry a big King James Bible to assure the world that I indeed am a child of God’s? I don’t see anything wrong with those things, but does that make me a Christian? Does saying that I am a Christian or a Christ Follower make it so? I don’t believe so.
Should I remind you about the atrocities carried out in the name of Jesus? Would you like me to share the damage done to me as a child by someone who clearly and loudly called herself a Christian? How do we make sense of people from the Westboro Baptist Church who protest military funerals and desecrate the American Flag in the name of Christ? This is their website http://www.godhatesfags.com/ Perhaps I might tell you about friends and family who were molested by people in their church. People who call themselves Christ Followers abuse their wives and children. We fight against our fellow Christ Followers in our denominations over things like sexual preferences, roles of men and women, theology, and more.
OK, I know you are going to say that we are simply Christians-we aren’t perfect, just forgiven. I believe that. I believe in grace, and salvation, and the cross, and God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. I have had faith as long as I can remember, in spite of a life of neglect, abuse, and more. I have also been seeking and asking questions of God all of my life. I did leave the organized church for a long time, but that doesn’t mean I left God or He left me. I knew God was leading me to come back to church and I have been part of a church for about a year now. I still don’t quite know how to do “church” right, but I am trying.
We discussed prayer in our Sunday school class today. Those of you that know me well will swear you couldn’t have imagined me writing about Sunday school. I told the class I have some weird views on that. I hate when I put my thoughts and beliefs down like that. They are not weird just because they may be different from others.
I believe in prayer and I know God works in my life. I just don’t think prayer should be about giving God my shopping list for life and expecting Him to take care of it. I believe prayer is conversation with God. It is about building such a close relationship with God that I can trust Him to show me what I should do and give the courage, the faith, and the support to do it. I can tell Him I am scared, lonely, confused, and pissed off. Prayer is about thanksgivings, praise, asking for guidance, and asking for the same things I want in my life for others.
I believe God encourages me, gives me insight and inspiration, leads me to people who will help me grow, and makes me feel lousy when I do things I shouldn’t. He might even allow me to fall in a hole on the beach and be knocked over by waves when I tell a little white lie to get out of going to an event I didn’t want to attend.
I also believe I can never fully understand the mysteries of faith and grace. I guess that’s why it is called faith. God explained that to Job once. I also know that love should be the revelation of God in my life and others who are Christ Followers or Christians. Do I practice love for others all the time? No, I don’t but I believe it is our calling. I decided not to quote Bible verses in this post because we too often get into Bible Verse wars. However, I am going to share one.
1 Corinthians 13:13 (New International Version) And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
I also love this quote by my favorite author,
“You were loved because God loves, period. God loved you, and everyone, not because you believed in certain things, but because you were a mess, and lonely, and His or Her child. Anne Lamott
I may not wear the T-shirt, have the bumper sticker, or put “Christ Follower” as a label on my blog post. I can assure you without hesitation that I am a child of God and a….. Well, I am not sure which is my favorite word from the ones the disciples called each other, “brethren”, “disciples”, “apostles”, “servants”, “believers”, “followers”, “the faithful”, “the elect”, “the called”, and “saints.”
I have been lead to find several people through my blogging. There are a few who have touched my heart and spirit. One is an inspiring woman named Joy Cannis. I want to share something from her About Page on her blog.
If you aren’t sure about God…believe that there is no God…are a bible beater…a seeker…a Jesus freak…a veteran Christian or anything in between, my hope is that something here will resonate in your gut and move you to positive action.
So here’s the deal…I won’t preach religion. I don’t think that Jesus did, so I won’t.
I am not going to berate you with what I think is the only way to God. Though I believe it is through Jesus. I am a spiritual being and this body is just my earthly shell.
What I will do is keep it real. I will speak truth…my truth to the best of my ability and I will pray for each of you, every day, on this journey. Thank you for taking the time out of this incredibly busy life to listen to my compilation of thoughts.
And this, my friends, is my truth.