Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Christian Lefties

Maybe I should have titled it Christian Leftists or Liberal Christians, perhaps, because I obviously don't mean Christians who have dominant left hands.  No, what I am talking about is Christians who have leanings that are considered leftist, and in the minds of some, wrong ideas by extension.

There is a pervasive feeling among sects of Christianity that if you aren't in the Religious Right, then you are wrong, as if there is only one side to Christianity and they have some inside scoop on what is right.

I beg to differ.  I have heard all kinds of arguments against my line of beliefs.  I have been accused of cherry picking the bible.  I have been maligned for going against the grain of mainstream religion and for abandoning dogmatic worship practices.  I have been called a hypocrite because I don't actively condemn hot button political issues like gay marriage and abortion.  I've been labeled Socialist because I view social justice and equality amongst all God's people, as one of our highest priorities as followers of Christ.

I think Christianity is so much bigger than we, even as Christians, give it credit for.  There is not one right way to BE within the confines of our faith, except to be like Christ, so when I quote scripture from the life (and mouth) of Jesus, this is not cherry picking, it is putting more emphasis on the most important words of the bible to be used by Christians.  When I paddle upstream against the tidal wave of mainstream (right?) religion, I am simply doing what Jesus himself did when he opposed the dogmatic ways in which religion was practiced when he encountered it. My passion for social justice is simply me using the bent that God gave to me.  God gives to each of his children a special way of looking at the world and thus, a special way to make a difference in the world  by marrying our bent with our faith in him.  This is as it should be.

I admit that I have lately allowed those who have called me names, picked me apart and called my faith into question, to silence me.  I have backed away from writing about anything that I feel might stir up controversy. I have stayed away from the issues that are truly important to me in an effort to keep people off my back.  I now realize this has been the wrong tactic.  God placed inside me a passion for people who different.  He has opened my heart to people who are often oppressed by my religion.  I have an understanding of these people even though I don't share the things they are oppressed for.  I'm not gay.  I'm not poor, homeless or living on welfare.  I've never had an abortion.  I don't have substance abuse problems.  No, none of these are my personal issues, and yet I feel strongly that it is my job to advocate for people just as these.  And I haven't been a strong advocate lately because I allowed people to get to me.  I allowed them to squelch me so that I wouldn't have so much controversy surrounding me, so that I didn't offend.

Then something happened to me.  I got sick, really sick and I had a lot of time to sit and pray, reflect and contemplate.  Slowly, two things became clear to me.  First, I had allowed myself to be drawn into arguments with those who disagreed with me and my convictions.  And second, I allowed fear and frustration to censor me and to keep me quiet about topics that were dear to my heart.  In short, I wasn't relying on God fully, not all the time anyway. During this illness I have faced down fear after fear - looked those fears straight in the eye and told them to go to hell.  How?  Not with drugs or self reliance or anything artificial. I simply saw them for what they were - lies form the pit of hell.   I relied on God to give me the courage and strength I needed to send them back from whence they came.  And by golly, he came through.  It stands to reason that if God gave me the strength in these trying circumstances, he is fully capable of bolstering me through criticism and opposition.  Never has this fact been clearer to me than it is right now.

So, I'm not going anywhere.  Maybe some (or a lot) of Christians won't understand my 'brand' of Christianity.  It is likely that I will offend those who take a hard line on sin and punishment.  It is highly probably that I will be misunderstood and perhaps even called a heretic, a hypocrite or worse, but I don't care.  I will not be moved.  I plan to refocus my efforts to fight the oppression I see being dealt out by those whose job, it should be, to comfort and support, but who feel it their pious duty to dole out judgment and punishment instead.  I have no doubt they feel they are doing God's work, just as the Pharisees felt they were long ago.  I have no choice but to let them continue to do as they will; I am not Jesus (nor do I have a Jesus complex) after all and it is not my duty to judge nor condemn, even though I don't agree with their tactics.  We must all live as God calls us individually.

I am but one person.  One person called to a ministry of sorts, fueled by the passions I have been given.  If I were to turn my back on what is clearly a fire God has lit within me, it would not only be a waste, but it would also be a sin. In our lives, as Christians, it is never a good idea to think of ourselves more highly than we ought. Rejecting our God-giving bent because we feel we know what's best is the definition of thinking too highly of ourselves and putting ourselves before him is a sin.  It is for us to live our lives for him, and on his terms, not for us to negotiate a new contract that better suits our own ideas.  From now on I will endeavor to wake up daily remembering that it's not about me.  It's about Jesus.  I am to take up my cross (my fears, insecurities and foibles of character) and follow him.  I may never impact thousands of people, few of us do, but I still have to go where my passion and my God lead me. I can do nothing less.
© KDV 2011

5 For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. 6 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ. 7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. ~ 2 Corinthians 4:5-7

4 There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. 5 There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. 6 There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work. 7 Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. 8 To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit. ~ 1 Corinthians 12:4-8