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When I don’t want to be a Christian anymore, I just believe in love

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I found this image here: http://jumbo-stuffed-monkey.blogspot.com/2012/09/radical-love.html

I believe in love.

I feel that I must take a moment to define my term as best as I can here. I’m not talking about romance or affection or coziness or anything else that we all sometimes call love.

I mean the force that moves us to see others as fully human. The force that moves us to care, and to hope for (and more importantly work for) a world where everyone is seen as (and treated as) fully human.

Love, the absence of abuse, oppression, discrimination, exploitation.

Love, the absence of violence and war.

Love, the action, and love the feeling that calls us to action.

Love, the spark of anger that burns through our apathy when we see others in pain that could be prevented if only society were different.

Love, the conviction that leads us to examine our own lives and look at how we sometimes help cause that pain.

Love that holds abusers accountable.

Love that is powerful.

Love that is quiet and comforting or fiercely passionate (or both at the same time).

Love that isn’t always nice, but is always on the side of justice for the oppressed and marginalized.

Love, love, love.

Love I can worship. Love I can sing about. Love I can believe in.

I’m a theist (albeit a slightly agnostic one), so I believe that God is love. I am a Christian so I believe that Jesus was ultimate love in human form.

But sometimes those labels don’t feel honest–I don’t always believe in God. I don’t always believe that God loves me, or anyone. Sometimes they feel too heavy, laden with imperialist, patriarchal, capitalist bullshit. Sometimes those labels are just restricting because they turn us into religions and denominations and dichotomies and keep us from uniting as believers in love. During these times I put aside my Bibles and theology books and center myself on what I find most important.

Love.

People occasionally tell me I’m not allowed to claim the labels of theist or Christian because I can’t claim them with assurance or orthodoxy. Sometimes my response to those people is to assert my right to self-identify. Other times, I just want to say, “That’s okay. I just believe in love.”

Love often leads me back to those labels, as imperfect and burdened as they are. I think love also leads different people to different labels–Buddhist, Muslim, Humanist, Atheist, Universalist, Feminist. I haven’t given up on labels. I think we all have different worldviews and vehicles that helps us understand and enact love in ways that work best for us and for our communities.

But I think there are times when commitment to building a more loving world can unite us if we’re willing to let it. If we’re willing to listen to it call us and convict us. If we’re willing to work, and give up privileges, and treat others as human.

Today, I’m exhausted with a Christianity that overall doesn’t seem willing to do that.

But that’s okay. I believe in love.

  • http://www.gromesoapbox.com Larry

    Sounds like some kind of odd pantheism.

    • http://moonchild11.wordpress.com Sarah Moon

      Probably because it is…

  • alisewrite

    Just posted 1 John 4:7 earlier today on all of my social media. It pretty much sums up my feelings about this.

    • http://moonchild11.wordpress.com Sarah Moon

      Alise! That is the very verse that brought me to this type of thinking and the verse I had in mind while writing this. Great minds.

  • http://cherilynclough.com Cherilyn Clough

    I’ve been thinking about this since I found it in my inbox this morning. The Bible says that God is love–not just loving but that His very essence is love and if His very essence is love, then a lot of things people attribute to God are not true. When the concepts and names we have for God have failed us, I think believing in love is the healthiest thing we can all do. I don’t know if that comment about pantheism was a joke, but think your post has anything to do with pantheism. I do believe God’s love is written on every leaf and every flower in across the sky but I personally don’t worship these objects– just their Creator. Thanks for the thoughts and have a wonderful holiday!

  • http://cherilynclough.com Cherilyn Clough

    *Don’t think your post has anything to do with pantheism–oops!

  • jayrb

    When we mortals get into the sphere of trying to explain God we can only do that from our very limited, mortal vantage point, in terms that mortals understand………….God is bigger than all that……..beyond the description of our mortal minds. How do we as creations of God explain God? There are no words, descriptions, in which to explain the Infinite. Finite beings have no way to describe the Infinite. Throughout History, there have come Messengers/Manifestations of God ie. Abraham, Moses, Zoroaster, Buddha, Mohammed, Jesus Christ, and in the Baha’i Faith Baha’u’llah……….which have appeared to give us mortals some sense of God. This is a progressive revelation in which each Messenger comes to address the needs of Mankind at a specific time…..with each new Messenger/Manifestation of God we learn more……….The one thing that is never changing here is God. All religions worship the same unchanging God, the source of all life and light.

    An example that works for me is to think of a mountain say Mt. Everest…………how many climbers from how many countries, from all races and creeds, men and women of so many different ethic backgrounds……….the goal is to summit Mt. Everest. God is at the summit……each person climbing to the summit has his or her own thoughts about what it is going to take to reach the summit…….probably unique to each person climbing……..yet the goal is the same to reach the summit, to discover who God is.

    Another picture that comes to mind is to recall photos taken of Earth from space, a beautiful ball of blue. When we look at this beautiful orb we call earth we can see water, we can see oceans……..one thing we DO NOT see are LINES……….God has created the Earth as One Planet, God has Created humankind to be one……..think about it almost every LINE everything that separates mankind from each other is “Man’Made”. We are all here to celebrate our ONENESS, We are all citizens of this ONE PLANET. The recognition of this oneness
    does not mean we have to all be the same, there is diversity in our ONENESS………the common dynamic is that we are all HUMAN BEINGS. God created each one of us with a brain, with the ability to discover, to make choices, even knowing that some of those will be bad. He did this so that we can do our own individual investigation of the Truth, not based upon any Church Dogma, not based on the
    organized Church ie. Clergy, not based on religious fanaticism, a Truth which is all encompassing of mankind whatever race, gender,
    social standing,…which includes everyone and excludes no one…..after all, those are clearly “man-made” divisions.

    Having said all of this, to me this Faith Journey is life long, always a process of self discovery……a process of growth……one in which
    each of us is on and which leads us towards the the next step and that is the end of our earthly journey and the beginning our eternal journey.

    Peace,
    Jay

  • http://sometimesmagical.wordpress.com sometimesmagical

    I feel the same way. Even though I’ve left behind the label of Christian, I still believe in love and think Jesus was an example of that (though I wouldn’t say he is the only perfect incarnation of it). I got tired of being bullied over keeping the label and just kind of started calling myself interfaith so that I could create my own brand of spirituality that was founded in love but that didn’t leave room for others to feel an obligation to “correct me.” Good for you if you can stay with the label. The world needs Christians who aren’t a-holes. I wish I could be one of those Christians, but I’m much happier being an apostate who worships love. Oh! And before I forget, thank you SO MUCH for drawing out how anger has a part in love. That is so often overlooked because our society is stuck on just one expression of anger and forgets that anger can be a loving, creative, and powerful force for change.

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  • Rowan

    I needed this. Thank you so much.

  • Jim Fisher

    I like to imagine that old man John wrote his three love epistles very late in life … after his little field trip to Patmos. Picture him hastily writing the Revelation, “To the angel in the church in Ephesus …” with sweaty palms. That was his church. The angel (messenger) of that church was John himself. Jesus commends him for enduring patiently and for testing and exposing false teachers. But he is rebuked for abandoning the love he had at first. “John! I love the son of thunder part, but you’re forgetting about the Love! Repent!”

    May we all learn to turn around and seek the love we had at first and follow your lead, Sarah (and Alise!!).

  • http://www.readysm.com Readysm Bible Quotes

    Love is a Giant who provide shade for those living under him. It is the most powerful word that when well handled ensures a heaven on earth for those involved.

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