(One of) My Problem(s) with American Christianity
This morning my friend kind of set me off.
I know what you’re thinking. “Friends argue; get over it. You’re just women, you’ll hug and make up in no time.”
But we don’t usually fight. We have a lot in common; we get along really well. We just have differing beliefs about arguably the most important thing:
Now, notice I’m not saying “Christianity.” At this point in American church history, it’s kind of become a dirty word.
Anyway. This morning I saw a poster about a conference where there’s going to be a person speaking who’s from a persecuted church in the Middle East. I pointed out that it was silly of them to put a picture of him on the poster and just black out his eyes and nose, when they could have just done the high school yearbook thing and put a box that said “picture not available.” That wouldn’t have hurt anything. But no, they had to put part of his face. Because you can’t recognize a man from just the lower half of his face.
She responded by saying he works with a persecuted church, you know, in one of those countries where they don’t say, “You’re a Christian? Great!”
I wanted to point out that the Early Church she’s so fond of was heavily persecuted.
I wanted to point out that there are churches in other places around the world that are heavily persecuted, but the believers there don’t necessarily see it as God messing with them.
It’s a blessing.
Christianity is a religion for the downtrodden, the underdogs, those who are looked down upon by society. It was not designed for upper-middle class and high class white people who get everything handed to them on a silver platter because they happened to be born a little more susceptible to the son.
It was designed for those people who are in such horrible situations that it’s hard to believe there is a God. Christianity was born in the middle of Jewish people getting spat on by the Roman empire, and it wanted to give hope that there are better things in this world than material goods. There are more important things than your bodily health, as long as your spirit is intact. There are more important things in life than having a lot of money and getting more of it.
But then Christianity became the church of the state and basically everything went downhill from there. When it comes to white people at least. Cue Martin Luther and his fight against indulgences. Cue the Anglican church and their fight for divorce. Cue the Free Methodists and their fight for free church pews. Cue everyone getting all mad at everyone else because the other person wasn’t following the Bible exactly right.
I digress. In any case, yes there are persecuted churches. But we are not better than them because we get to meet in a building that doesn’t have to pay taxes when it buys things and on the land it sits on. We are not better than other people just because we believe there’s a guy in the sky taking care of business. We are not better than persecuted churches just because we come from America, where anyone who has a belief or lifestyle that doesn’t correspond with Christian ideals has to fight for laws to get married even though church and state are supposedly separate.
There are people in persecuted churches who have so much faith that it doesn’t matter what happens to their bodies, or their possessions. The worst thing that could ever happen has been done, about 2000 years ago when Jewish people didn’t get the messiah they were hoping for because he brought a message instead of a sword so they had the Roman government crucify him. Humanity killed the Son of God. That’s the worst possible thing that could happen. So so what you lose your house, or your job, or your car breaks down when you’re flat broke? Or your family is killed because of your faith? Or you’re whipped almost to death? The worst has already happened.
Jesus Christ came into this world to give hope to those who didn’t have any. Not give money to white people who don’t need his help in any real aspect of their lives. “Christianity” has become a religion of hatred and promotion of the “other,” in my experience. But Christ followers are those who stand out from the crowd in different, more Early Church ways.
Oh yes, you’re gay, but that doesn’t matter. Jesus loves everyone and I love you too. Being gay isn’t inherently sexual. Homosexual people can feel love too, you know. And not just sexual love.
Oh yes, you’re homeless, but that doesn’t matter. Jesus loves everyone and I love you too. You aren’t necessarily a drug addict, alcoholic, or deadbeat even though those are the stereotypes put on homeless people. Not everyone can have everything they need in this world. That’d be too easy.
Oh yes, you aborted your baby, but that doesn’t matter. Jesus loves everyone and I love you too. Your baby is in a better place anyway, because yes they might have had a .000001% to kill cancer, but they also could have been homosexual. Or bisexual. Or asexual. Or pansexual. Or transgender. Or homeless. Or a drug addict, alcoholic, etc. But they’re in heaven and don’t have to deal with the stupid people here on earth. You. Are. Not. A. Murderer.
Oh yes, you have a mental illness, but that doesn’t matter. Jesus loves everyone and I love you too. It’s okay to feel like you don’t want to be alive. It doesn’t make you a horrible person. Sometimes life is just hard. It’s okay that your heart races and you can’t breathe in certain situations. You can’t control that. It’s okay that your brain chemistry is a little bit different than other people’s. Different isn’t bad. It’s okay to seek help. Please seek help. Anyone in your life who judges you has their own problems to deal with. Mental health comes first.
Oh yes, you’re black, but that doesn’t matter. Jesus loves everyone and I love you too. Your culture is beautiful; tell me more about it. I want to know more. I don’t believe I’m better than you because of the amount of melanin in my skin. I want to know your hopes and dreams, and your struggle. I know I can’t ever really understand what you’ve gone through. I know I can’t fix the past. But I want to help to build a better future.
Christianity is a religion for those who have no other hope. But Christians, especially those in America, have turned it into a religion for the best people ever. And don’t give me that “church isn’t a museum for saints but a hospital for sinners” crap. I’m 99% sure the majority of people that post that crap on Facebook don’t really believe that.
And if you’re reading this and you’re thinking, “I’m a Christian and this isn’t how I live my life,” then I’m sorry. I’m not referring to everyone. Just the ones with the loudest voices.