This guest post is by Sheri Faye Rosendahl.
Dear American Conservative Church,
I know I can be pretty hard on you and you deserve an explanation.
I am trying to follow the ways of Jesus, I’m sure you are too. My struggle is with the contradictions I see between your speech and actions, and the ways of your savior. The red letters are not aligning.
Our world is a mess right now, I bet you would agree. But I don’t quite understand your response to the chaos–the self-protection approach doesn’t make sense when it overrides Love.
I’m sure you know this, but do you really understand that Jesus is not American, nor is he campaigning for American greatness? He does not value white children more than any other hue, nor does he value any nationality over another. I promise you, I checked all of his teachings, it’s not there.
Bear with me if you can–I am going to be blunt because I don’t know if you understand what the world sees and experiences through your actions.
To the world, the outward purpose of American Christianity looks like a numbers game. The goal being to “save” (convert) as many souls as possible, then maybe you win or something, I am honestly not quite sure what, maybe points in heaven?
It looks like a weird competition and its players are often aggressive and uncomfortable to be around. The message sounds something like, “Convert to save your soul! And to save your soul from eternal hellfire where there is gnashing of teeth, you need to accept Jesus Christ as your lord and savior and then you’re good. The End.”
I bet just reading that made you a bit uncomfortable, I mean really, it’s weird. It’s like a get-out-of-hell-free card that completely misses the larger and far greater purpose of following the ways of Jesus, here, in our lives today.
Think about it, Jesus never said, “Love your God with all your heart and get as many converts as possible.” He said, “Love your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: Love your neighbor as yourself.” This is the greatest command Jesus specifically gave, to Love each other.
You might not want to hear this, but he went even further to specify that Loving one another means going beyond those we consider “safe” to Love. It means not letting our fears, rational or irrational, dictate who and when we choose Love.
I know you want to Love, but as a whole, fear is winning. The most prevalent command Jesus gave was “Do not fear.” He knew that fear would kill our ability to Love.
There is a good chance that fear is blinding you. Ask yourself, what perceived risks would you take to follow Jesus’ way of bold Love? And where is the line you draw? Is it your money? Your time? Your security? Your ambitions? Your life?
I am sorry (but not really) to tell you that to follow Jesus is to Love others above yourselves, through your fears, erasing your lines regardless of how scary it may feel.
It means showing Love to the immigrant who came to find a better life for their family, even if you are scared they may “take our jobs.” It means welcoming refugees who have fled the unimaginable, even if you are scared that some “bad ones might get in.” It means willingly giving up your money, your time, your life, to pursue a bad-ass, world-changing, self-sacrificial kind of Love.
What if we pursued this radical life rooted in Loving others? Being kind to those we don’t understand? Can you imagine the unity we would see?
And you know what is amazing? Not living a life constantly afraid of what might happen if you risk Loving. Figuring out that your fears were a fabrication and meeting some really amazing people in the process. That’s awesome, that’s a life worth living and dying for.
So, American Conservative Church, I’m hard on you because the consequences of giving in to your fears are hard on the world. I see people hurt, families destroyed, our world divided, and children losing a chance at life all because you are afraid, and you don’t have to be, you shouldn’t be, your savior calls you to a better way. Truly the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.
Fortunately, there is another way, there is always hope. There is a red lettered guide you can re-familiarize yourself with; it’s never too late to follow the ways of Jesus and choose to let Love win.
Photo by Sheri Faye Rosendahl.
Sheri Faye Rosendahl is a writer, lover of bold love, the Middle East, Yoga, and cookies. You can find more of her writing at NotYourWhiteJesus.org or find her on Facebook. Sheri and her BA husband, Rich, also run a non-profit called The Nations, doing peace and humanitarian work with refugee neighbors from the Middles East both domestically and abroad.