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05 September 2007 @ 08:11 am
Christianity  
 This has been brewing in me for a while, and I think I'll feel better if I get it off my chest.  Who was it?  Popeye?  That said, "I've had all I can stand, I can't stands no more!"  I'll probably have an emotional catharsis, but I doubt reading will help you.  You've been warned.


I am a Christian.  I've been a Christian since the age of eleven when I asked Jesus to be my savior.  As trite as that sounds, I truly beleive as a child I grasped what it was to beleive.  And I do.  Jesus is great.  Jesus is my rock, my peace, my healer, my protector, and there just aren't words to describe how much I love him.

But Christians.  

It was Ghandi who said, "I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” 

Wow.  Ain't it the truth.  I keep expecting more out of my Christian friends than the shallow, self-obsessed, judgemental people that they are.  As Christians, we're taught to be like Jesus.  As Ghandi said, we aren't.  It hurts.  

Let me back up.  I'm not saying that Christians are better than anyone else.  Heaven knows I'm not.  I've committed almost all of the Big Ten (see Exodus 20 for a complete list) and some that aren't even included in those.  (I was a theatre major, y'all.  Do the math!  Hm..  That's ironic, as most theatre majors can't do math... but I digress.)  I still act, which some people consider giving false witness, or lying, I am friends with *gasp* gay people, I use curse words, and I've been known to covet.  We are all sinners.  All of us.  Every one.  And sin is sin is sin.  One sin is not better or worse than another.  They are all the same in God's eyes.  You can hate the sin and still love the sinner; and this is where most Christians fall short.  It's easy to forgive someone who tells a white lie.  It's a little harder to love a murderer, or someone who's slept with your husband, or someone of whose lifestyle you don't agree with or approve of.  Even if you DO feel that way, is it too much trouble to try and show those people the love of Christ?  If Christians are supposed to "share the good news with all the people" do you think those people will be receptive if they are persecuted from coming into your church buildings?  I totally get why people call Christians hypocrtical.  Their mouths say one thing, yet their actions are totally the opposite.  Even to other Christians.  

I get SO tired of "playing church".  It's absolutely exhausting to sit with a group of people and know that over half of them aren't practicing what they preach, so to speak.  We haven't attended church regularly this summer, as we've been out of town almost every weekend, and I hate to say it, but it's been a relief.  I'm dreading going tomorrow night, dreading going on Saturday (That's when my church meets - beats the heck out of Sunday morning) and I, quite frankly, feel guilty about it.  My instinct, which I call 'the Jim Wagster school of thought' is to withdraw totally from everything and hide in my house.  I realize that this is not a viable option, but I think I'd be happier, for a while anyway, if I could.

So.  What do I do?  Pray.  Yes, alright, I do that.  Love the unloveable.  *grits teeth*  Yes, I'll try my best, Jesus help me.  Love my neighbors, and treat others as I want to be treated.  I will.

But what I really feel is dead inside.  Tired.  Disappointed.  A little angry.  Nauseated at the thought of going through the motions.

Anyhow, sorry for the angst.  It did make me feel a bit better, though.  So thanks.
 
 
I feel:: disappointeddisappointed
 
 
 
Lyndsie Fenele: Parte Antigualyndsiefenele on September 5th, 2007 04:04 pm (UTC)
I also think that Gandhi got it dead on. I'm not a very religious person myself, because my family as a whole isn't, but I did have friends that were and went to church with them. And I think I started to pick up on that at a young age - I mean, we have this one super religious branch of my family, but they're also the meanest and stingiest.

Are there reasons that you do like your church, or reasons why you wouldn't look for another one? Maybe you could find one where there's a lower percentage of fake practicers.
Carrie Leighcarrie_leigh on September 8th, 2007 12:47 pm (UTC)
I think all churches are pretty much the same. There are good people there, too, and I have to remember that.
seegrim: boydsmileseegrim on September 5th, 2007 06:22 pm (UTC)
I get SO tired of "playing church".

Trust me, I completely understand this.

Hate the sin, love the sinner-totally. Couldn't agree more.
Celina: Togetherxoxrhapsodyxox on September 5th, 2007 08:14 pm (UTC)
I can't even begin to tell you how many times I've felt exactly the same way. Sometimes it's worse going to a Christian college, being surrounded by people who act as if they're perfect Christians when on the weekends their true personalities show through. What is almost worse is watching people train for ministry positions, treating it as if it's only a job... not something they're passionate about or a position they're called to by their faith.

Over the years, I've come to the conclusion that we as Christians are truly messed up - no wonder we are so ineffective in reaching out to others. Furthermore, I've realized that acting perfect is tiring. I've been that "perfect" little Christian girl and if anything it only made me afraid of people finding out I wasn't perfect. After years of looking down on others for sinning, I realized I was no better and decided to drop the act. I'm an imperfect horrible person, truly in need of a savior.

There are so many of us who feel just as hopeless and just as disappointed in the church. You're not alone.
Carrie Leighcarrie_leigh on September 8th, 2007 12:49 pm (UTC)
What is almost worse is watching people train for ministry positions, treating it as if it's only a job... not something they're passionate about or a position they're called to by their faith.

I would imagine that is disheartening.

You're right. If Christians would let their guards down and let people see how imperfect we are, it would probably be easier to spread the gospel. It's hard to do that behind a mask.
wistfulmemory: Floating Beautywistfulmemory on September 5th, 2007 11:11 pm (UTC)
This occurs everywhere, which is very upsetting. It's a very sad day when my non-Christian friends are the better Christians in all that they do than the people in my church who claim the title and pretend to be Christians during the church service and then are hypocrites the rest of the week. This has happened to me too many times at too many different churches.
Carrie Leighcarrie_leigh on September 8th, 2007 12:52 pm (UTC)
It is sad. But we have to love them, too, even though it's hard, as they are supposed to be held to a higher standard, right? No one said that this would be easy, I guess.
sereniteys: shepard book special hellsereniteys on September 5th, 2007 11:42 pm (UTC)
I’m not religious at all but I’ve attended Catholic schools my entire life so I know what you mean.

You may not agree with this, but you don’t have to go to church every Sunday (or Saturday) to be a good Christian. There’s a difference between having faith and being a frequent church goer. When I was younger I went to church every week in school, sometimes went on Sundays too, but I didn’t believe the words I was saying. I just did it because other wise I got scowled at. You can still teach your boys about God though school, bible study/camps and your own words and actions. Failing that, are there any other churches in your area? I think all churches are the same. Too many think that they're faith in God grants them moral superiority, but maybe there’s one with a lower concentration. Some people who are just there because they want to be, because they have faith? If not there are about 8 churches within a couple of ks of my house, you’re welcome to try one of those. ^_^

It’s so odd you’re posting about this as I just watched a downright scary documentary Jesus Camp, which I have a very large post about sitting half finished in my harddrive.

p.s sorry, couldn't resist using Book.But I think he is a good Christian ... despite the gunplay.
Carrie Leighcarrie_leigh on September 8th, 2007 12:56 pm (UTC)
That's it. I'm moving to Australia and going to one of the churches around your house. ;)

I don't think moving churches will help, I just have to remember that not EVERYONE is that way, and to not go in the building with a bad attitude. That won't help anyone, least of all me.

Jesus Camp=weird/scary.

Book rocks. (That's my favorite line in all of Firefly :))Lots of warriors for God have been warriors in real life. The bible's full of 'em!
Elle Blessingwayelle_blessing on September 6th, 2007 06:16 pm (UTC)
I agree with you. Christians don't walk the talk for the most part. It's disillusioning. It sucks. It makes you wonder how you can be a part of that group and not be like that.

But...here's the thing...and I'm going to relate it a lesson I learned about teamwork in soccer recently.

There's a girl, a freshman, on the team that the coach decided had earned a starting position. There's also another girl, a senior (who's coming off an injury), that the team thinks should have that starting position. How does this relate to what you're saying? Well, the team doesn't much like that the freshman isn't a team player, that she's only out there for herself, that when mistakes are made, she doesn't stand up and say "hey, that was partly my fault." And the senior...the team loves and respects her. She's a smart player.

I live with 7 girls on the team and emotions can run high at times. Why won't he start the senior? Can't he see that the freshman isn't as good? That she isn't a team player? The thing is, is that I agree with the girls in my house that ask these questions and complain about how the freshman isn't doing any of the things we talked about as a team. We decided we'll only be successful together, as a family. Can't be a family if one person isn't willing to put themselves aside for a few minutes.

But here's the thing. I know how much I want to tear this freshman apart. I know how much I don't want to be affiliated with her. But... those are selfish feelings and they don't matter. The freshman is still part of the team and she's still a starter. If I want the team to be successful and grow together as a family, then I have to be the bigger person and let the little stuff go. I have to play with her. If I tear her down or decide that just b/c she's fallen into that selfish trap too and therefore I should let her stay there...well, it's not good enough. We're only as strong as our weakest link.

I told this to the girls. Get out the angry feelings, but then you have to let it go. We'll not grow together and be stronger if we don't. And, we have to deal with her. She's there and she's not going anywhere. Instead of alienating her with our bad feelings, why not accept her, encourage her, coach her, NOT talk about her behind her back? You know what? We did those things. And you know what else? She's gotten better. She is not as selfish and she's got more of a team mentality. It still sucks that our friend, the senior, isn't starting. But you know what? When that weak link (even if it's emotionally or mentally) succeeds, we all succeed.

(cont...)
Elle Blessingwayelle_blessing on September 6th, 2007 06:16 pm (UTC)
Now, how does this relate to what you were saying? There are people, Christians, out there who are weak links. And we give up on them. We complain about them, we talk about them behind their backs, we call them hypocrits. And you know what? They are. But that doesn't change the fact that we're all on the same team. Maybe some people are more serious about it than others, but it doesn't really matter. Those weak links are still there and we still have to deal with them. The question is, how will you deal with them?

It's way too easy to get disillusioned. It's easy to point fingers. I know. I really wanted to. And I know soccer isn't the same as religion, but there are lessons there that are invaluable if you're listening. And human nature is human nature, no matter the guise we put over it. But...we have to do what we can to help. You said it yourself...we have to love our fellow Christians despite the fact that they don't walk perfect paths either. We have to love. Isn't that what God does? A perfect love despite the fact that we're sinners?

The thing I think most people forget, especially us (occassionally :) disillusioned Christians, is that we have to love our fellow Christians (who are liers, fakers, etc.) as much as we do the people who are not. The people you say we're supposed to love despite the sin. The thing is, we're all people. One person's gay, one person's cheating, one person's a Christian. Like you said, all their sins are the same. Can't we learn to forgive and love them all? I know it's hard with fellow Christians...you expect so much more out of them. But...they're human too. And your fellow believers are only as strong as the weakest link. Don't you think it's our job to do everything we can to make those links stronger? With love and patience?

I don't know. Maybe I'm completely off the mark with this analogy...but it makes sense to me. Being judgemental about someone or some group that we don't like at the moment isn't going to fix it. I'm judgemental. I struggle just as much as anyone else...but as far as soccer is going this year. I really do want us to be a family..and the only way to have a REAL family that works successfully together is build each other up...not tear each other apart. And that seems the same for Christians. The Christian community is a family. Small families within bigger and bigger ones. You ask, what can I do? What would you do for your family? What would Jesus do for his?

Love. Care. Have patience. Don't quit. Know that no one (even Christians) are perfect. And forgive them.

It seems impossible to make a difference. "My vote doesn't really affect the outcome" - but we tell people, vote anyways! You really are making a difference! You really are making a difference. Your showing your sons how to love people that are hard to love. Your showing them that being part of something isn't easy, that people sometimes suck, but that one person can make a difference.

I'm sorry you feel all those things. But I'm glad you got it out. It really is healing, in it's own way. But now that it's all down, burn it, let it go. (If you can :) You said you'll do your best to love the unloveable. It's all we can do. Go you!

Don't let the world get you down. *heatrs & hugs*

Elle Blessingwayelle_blessing on September 6th, 2007 06:37 pm (UTC)
And this will be it. :) I just read some of the comments and wanted to reply a bit.

What do you do when you see "non-Christians" acting more "Christian" than Christians?

It happens all the time. I think the thing about Christians is they feel they have to cover up they're imperfections. To show how much "like Christ" they really are. The problem is, is that they're not perfect and covering up their imperfections and then acting like they're perfect makes people disrespect them.

Another soccer analogy (see! sports really can teach you a lot! :). There's girls on my team that suck. They're really just not great players technically. And there's girls on my team that are great. They can score goals and make things happen. But you know what? The girls that suck happen to be team players and work hard, not just for themselves. And some of those girls that are amazingly good don't give a rat's ass about working hard for the people around them.

Funny thing is, the girls that have the most respect from their peers are the ones that work hard even though they suck. The ones that don't "fake" being part of a team.

We, as humans, respect realness. We don't care if you're not good at soccer, or if you're not a Christian, or if you are. If you're a real person and you don't claim to be anything but...and you live that truth, then people will respect you.

Christians so often fall into the trap of "to be like Christ, I must be perfect." And then they lead "perfect" lives. That aren't so perfect. Because humans are not perfect! And the thing is, other humans don't respect the fakeness of it all. Because we know. We all know that no one is perfect and when someone tries to act it, they lose our respect.

That doesn't mean they aren't good people or that they're not trying. It just means they're trying to cover up their mistakes with fake smiles. I do that too sometimes. I can't fault someone for trying to live life the best way they know how, even though that way is flawed. My way's flawed too, b/c I'm just as human as everyone else.

So..that's my response to that. Those people with fake smiles are hurting and struggling just as much as everyone else. They're just doing their damn best to cover it up. It's like the girl who is super bubbly and laughs at all the jokes. Everyone likes her and thinks she's awesome...or they hate her b/c she's so fake. But, really, she's torn up inside and that's how she deals, that's how she covers her own pain and confusion.

We're all human. We all hurt. We all just handle it differntly. I don't like fake people or Christians either, but sometimes, they might need more help than anyone. It's hard, but don't turn your back on them. Their "perfectness" is a cry for help...and it's so hard to remember that sometimes.

Me too. Now if I could just try and follow all the things I say :) Doing my best :)

Elle Blessingwayelle_blessing on September 6th, 2007 06:39 pm (UTC)
*I should say, I don't like "fake people or fake Christians either.</i> lol! I certainly don't dislike Christians on principle :)
Carrie Leighcarrie_leigh on September 8th, 2007 01:03 pm (UTC)
I think you said it all. The key point is Forgiveness. Crap. My husband just told me the other day that I never forgive, I just forget. (Which is true. I have the worst memory ever, and usually get distracted by something and forget why it was that I was in a snit.) It was an epiphany for me. So. I've made a conscious effort to forgive those people, even if only for myself. And that's something that I'll have to continue to renew for myself each day, or time I see them, so that I can love them.

Thank you so much for your kind and insightful words. I appreciate them more than I can possible express.
Jandy the Gnome Whisperer: Kara - Downjandjsalmon on September 6th, 2007 10:54 pm (UTC)
*hugs you*

I always like to think of the word 'Christian' as a Noun and an Adjective. It is a Noun for people who are 'technical Christians' -- but then it can also be an adjective for people who exhibit Christ-like qualities - and that can be people of any religion. I've several very Christ-like Muslim friends for example.

I think this feeling of not wanting to be there and feeling pulled down happens to all of us. And you're right.. going through the motions can be tiresome and make you even MORE negative... Just know that it's the Adversary (a nifty word us Mormon's like to use for Satan) that would encourage those thoughts... would make you second guess yourself... would make you doubt. He wants us as miserable as he is... and I think you've hit the nail on the head when you say the things to do are pray about it and try your best. The Saviour knows when we're doing the best we can and He offers help when we need it.

*hugs you tightly* I'm thinking about you, doll!
Carrie Leighcarrie_leigh on September 8th, 2007 01:07 pm (UTC)
We call him the Enemy. And he's totally enjoyed the heck out of me this week, which just pisses me off to no end. ;) I didn't even think about that til I ready your reply.

A noun and an adjective. I'm going to do some thinking about that. That's very deep theology, I think.

Thanks for being a friend. I appreciate it.
dL: peacedieloreley on September 7th, 2007 03:48 am (UTC)
Well, I had a response thought up, but really? I don't need to -- elle_blessing said it all and much more in depth and more eloquently than I ever could.

*hugs you* It's so hard loving unlovable, fallen humans -- our sinful nature wars with our Godly nature, and it will continue to do so until the new heaven and new earth, unfortunately. *pouts*

A couple of months ago I would have suggested finding a new church, but in the end, the same thing will just keep happening and happening. Because you won't find a church of perfect Christians, because there's no such thing. Remember -- "Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another-- and all the more as you see the Day approaching." (Hebrews 10:25 NIV). (And yes, I had to Google the verse because I couldn't remember where it was. I found it at this site: http://www.newhope.bc.ca/00-04-30.htm, by the way) and "For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them." (Matthew 18:20 NIV).

I'll probably think of something inspirational to say once I click 'post comment', but oh well. *hugs again* Will pray!
Carrie Leighcarrie_leigh on September 8th, 2007 01:14 pm (UTC)
Those two verses are perfect, and coincedentally the exact ones that Nolan brought up when we discussed this subject.

(It doesn't matter that you had to look them up, all that matters it that you knew them!)

*hugs back* Thanks, honey. I appreciate it.