I’ve been struggling lately. Really struggling. Not so much struggling with my faith in God. To be honest with you, I’m mostly struggling with my faith in Christians. If I had to admit, I’ve occasionally been embarrassed to wear the title.
I’ve had the unique opportunity to sit in two worlds. The Christian world where we frequently discuss what it means to be Christlike and, through my previous job, the world of poverty where we wish more people would portray what it means to be Christlike. The general lack of those two worlds colliding has deeply discouraged me. I’m just as guilty as the rest. We like to talk about what is “right”, but when it comes to the “doing” part, we have a lot of excuses. We give some money to the missionaries in church on Sunday but when it comes to joining them in the trenches, we think we’ve done enough already. We attend anti-abortion rallies and boycott department stores, but when it comes to actually walking alongside the hurting souls, we somehow think that’s not our job. I’ve been so disillusioned with the Christianity I see, which admittedly may be skewed by the prevalence of social media making it easier for people to spout hurtful things. I see such little love of Jesus in Christianity and that breaks my heart into a million pieces. Oh, I feel the love for me, mind you. Christians love me to death because I’m one of them. But I’m not seeing much poor-loving, immigrant-loving, pro-choice-loving, LGBTQ-loving, liberal-loving, people-loving.
And before you flip out, by “love”, I do not necessarily mean “agree-with”. Mostly I just mean that unless you are willing to walk through the trenches with these people, offering your hand in love, you have absolutely no right to yell at them from the street corners, protest their lifestyles, or shoot them dirty looks when they’re trying to use the bathroom. Actually, I’d prefer you not do any of that even if you do walk the trenches. Discuss your differences once you have REALLY LOVED them and formed a relationship with them, sure. These are REAL people, loved by our Jesus. They are not just some sin you oppose. Do you honestly think public displays of disapproval win ANY souls to Christ? More likely, it’s driving your own people away, into the much more ‘loving’ arms of the world. I only say this because I am there. I have truly felt this many times. There have been many times that I have thought, or said out loud that until Christianity looks more like Christ, I don’t want the title. “Jesus-follower”, always and forever. “Christian”, maybe another day. But just when I feel my anger and disappointment growing to the point of explosion, I am reminded that often those with whom I am angry simply have the loudest voices. Sometimes I need to look a little harder for the quieter, loving side of Christianity.
So what keeps me coming back to Christianity? Maybe it’s the fact that I get goosebumps every time I watch someone get baptized. Maybe it’s the Christians who actually look like Jesus… or even those who just favor him up around the eyes a little. Maybe it’s because when I waded to the middle of the creek at Deep Valley Camp and was plunged under the water, I saw Jesus. Maybe it’s because when my dad met me with a towel and a hug at the shore while everyone sang “Now I Belong”, I saw Jesus. Maybe it’s because when church members offered to become my family away from family, they were Jesus. Maybe it’s because listening to an entire college campus solemnly singing “It is Well” after the death of one of its own sounded a little like Jesus. Maybe it’s because holding my precious nieces and nephew felt a little like Jesus. Maybe it’s because my brother looked a little like Jesus when he officiated the funerals of my grandparents. Maybe it’s because when I met the man God prepared for me at the end of the aisle on our wedding day, I saw Jesus. Maybe it’s because every time a precious fellow worshiper tells me how much I mean to her when we barely know each other, I see Jesus. Maybe it’s the beautiful servants who love the unlovable, touch the untouchable, and see with the eyes of Jesus. Or maybe it’s simply, Jesus. I know he lived. I know he died. And I know he rose again. I know what he did for me and I love him. I know he wants me to look like him so I’m going to give it my very best effort, knowing the world is watching.
Jesus will always be enough for me. When I remember that, the loud, protesting, unloving, discouraging voices grow dim. You can have this world. Just give me Jesus. That’s truly all that I want. Jesus will always keep me coming back. After all, his world was pretty disillusioned too.