Why I am Still a Christian Despite . . . Well, Despite Everything

Why I am Still a Christian Despite . . . Well, Despite Everything June 4, 2015

a moment of beauty from my garden
A moment of beauty from my garden, photo by Christy Thomas

Why am I still a Christian when people like the Duggars sacrifice their daughters on the altar of TV fame?

Because I know that today, a woman in her early 50’s who was sexually abused by her adoptive father in such a horrific way that it churns the stomach to think about it formally adopted her five-year-old grandson and thus redeemed the whole nature of adoption. She has also been able to walk through a forgiveness process none of us can fathom where her adoptive father was concerned. He, having acknowledged the despicable nature of his actions, has a hard time understanding why his adopted daughter helps to care for him in an extended illness.

Why am I still a Christian what a mega-star pastor can affirm an admitted pedophile but seeks to disgrace this man’s former wife when she rightly petitions the state to annul a marriage that was fraudulent from the beginning?

Because I know that on this day, a bundle of nobodies made sure that the hungry homeless were fed a hot and nourishing meal and asked nothing in return.

What am I still a Christian when a fame-blinded prosperity pastor tells his flock, many likely living on a bare edge, to each give $300 so he can have a $60,000,000 airplane?

Because I know the woman whose thankless job means she spends her days raising funds so that children have a safe and properly equipped public park where they may play and explore.

Why am I still a Christian when daily I see theologians and pastors tell those who don’t fix their definition of sexual “rightness” that they are less worthy in the eyes of God and will suffer eternal torment if they don’t get it right?

Because I know the pastors and people who toil quietly to bind up those wounds and pour healing balm on the battered hearts and torn faith of the despised and denigrated.

Yet even as I affirm I am still a Christian, I am aware of a large body of those who also call themselves “Christian” who would not admit me to their table. I had a long conversation with a good man who is a leader in one of the neo-calvinist, fast growing churches. After I pressed him on the issue, he finally admitted that I am not welcome to participate in the sacrament of communion there, despite the fact that they say they have an open table. My beliefs do not line up adequately with theirs for me to have a place at the feast.

I am aware that some whom I love with such undying passion that I would indeed willingly lay down my life for them are questioning my salvation and whether I will spend eternity with them. They wonder if I am one of those non-elect who will experience never-ending conscious torment. I know this. My heart breaks. However, I will not return to that world.

But I am still a Christian. In my maturing Christianity, I have moved from the God of anger, a God who appears to despise the very creation and the creature made in God’s image, a God whose capriciousness says, “Yes, I pick you but you I do not pick.” Yes, I have left it.

I am instead in love with Jesus who came to open wide the doors to the heavenly places to all, to the outcast, the leper, the foreigner, the sojourner, the widow, the orphan, the barren, the lost. I am in love with this one, sent by the Cosmic Lover, to hold in his dying agony all of our betrayal, all our ignorance, all our stupidity and meanness and murmuring and gossip and greed and lust and envy and gluttony and laziness and self-righteousness and sexuality and then say, “Father, forgive them. They simply don’t know what they are doing.”

I am in love with Jesus who would pay the ultimate price out of love . . . and then show us that death cannot contain or hold back that love. It will indeed find life again.

Yes, I am a Christian despite my growing despair over our infighting, over ridiculous battles about the tiniest of matters, over the way those who call also call themselves Christian decide that it is OK to demean women (or slaves, or people of color or those who long for a same-sex marital covenant) as part of God’s will.

I am a Christian despite the fact that my own beloved United Methodist Church will undoubtedly crumble to dust in the next 20 to 30 years because we have forgotten that we are supposed to treat one another in the same way we ourselves wish to be treated. Our uncivil treatment of one another, not outdated polity or aging buildings and parishioners, has so infected us that we are about to go into septic shock.

But I am still a Christian despite . . . well, despite everything but Jesus.

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