My own personal stance against religious hypocrisy - both my own, and any others who seek to hurt people in the name of God.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Failing Voice

Not doing even a mediocre job of being a consistent and sound voice in the cause of women's rights, gay rights, faith rights, or any other rights for that matter.


I guess my problem is that instead of focusing on the problem spoken of in the news, I look at how things are operating in my country and see the same thing on our horizon. My suspicion is that similar activities are going on here that get reported from other countries.

Christianity is my "religion", but I don't adhere to it so much. For me, my life has become more about faith than religion. It has changed since 1975, when I gave my life to God - to Jesus. Or maybe I have changed. Or maybe I have just become more aware. Or maybe some of everything.

Back in 1975 I began my Christian walk by attending a Baptist church in a northern suburb of Minneapolis. It was far enough away that we in that community were not considered "city people". But to relatives up north we were.

The church was a small one, with an official congregation of less than 250, but seldom were there ever more than 150 there. In summer it could drop as low as 50.

The pastor was a wise man, if not a great preacher. But he preached the Truth. He preached God, God's love, and God's forgiveness. Although a conservative group (we were aligned with the Southern Baptists), I don't recall any preaching against anyone. Sin was sin, and it was condemned, but I don't recall Pastor M ever saying, publicly from the pulpit, or privately afterward, that any group of people was inferior, condemned, or any other derogatory word. He wasn't into that. Pastor M spoke of getting to know God and letting God change our lives.

I didn't notice the church cliques, but I expect they were there. That is just normal behavior for normal people. But I was young and enthusiastic. I got involved in a few things, but mostly I was afraid to do much. Although I wanted to do 'great things', I knew I was not qualified.

I guess I was in my own personal cloister, shut off from what the real world was like. Every day I hoped the end of the world would come so I could go to heaven. The idea of the horrible destruction spoke of in Revelation meant only that the end had come. The thought that real people would be suffering was outside my comprehension.

Fast forward to the present.

Preaching seems to have changed. We have two methods going, and I don't think either of them are any good at all.

On the one hand we have the Social Liberal Preachers, who don't seem to believe anything about God at all. Their god does not appear to be a real person, but rather a set of social ideas. The problem I see with this is there is no God behind it to fuel it with His Spirit.

But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of stress. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, inhuman, implacable, slanderers, profligates, fierce, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding the form of religion but denying the power of it. Avoid such people. 2 Timothy 3:1-5 Revised Standard Version

For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own likings, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander into myths. 2 Timothy 4:3-4 Revised Standard Version

The other kind of preaching is the Intolerant, Self-Righteous Kind. This is the "we versus them" thing. "We" are good. Blessed by God. "They" are sinners, going to hell.

Jesus spoke against this all through his ministry. Just yesterday I posted this from Luke, Chapter Eighteen:

[9] He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and despised others:

[10] "Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.

[11] The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, 'God, I thank thee that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector.

[12] I fast twice a week, I give tithes of all that I get.'

[13] But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, 'God, be merciful to me a sinner!'

[14] I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for every one who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted."

Of the two I guess I lean more toward the social side than the condemnation. That does not put me in good standing with conservative Christians. But I can't bring myself to say sin is not sin (although the conservatives argue that I do, in fact, say that by not speaking out against it), which does not put me in good standing with liberals.

I worry about myself. Am I a hypocrite? Have I 'left my first love'? To listen to some talk, the answer to both questions is 'Yes'. They may be right. I can't argue. For me, it's all about God's forgiveness. I am counting on the forgiveness given through Christ Jesus. I won't argue about other ways.

Right or wrong, my message is about as basic as it can be: God loves each of us because we are us. He accepts us as we are today - complete with our sins. He forgives us. He wants us to get to know him because he knows that in so doing, we will cease to sin - in time. (An important point the ultra conservatives fail to consider.)

While that stance seems to imply a lot of things a lot of people don't care to hear, I will only say this: Who am I to not accept someone God accepts? Who am I to criticize one person's love for another? Who am I to say they should be tore apart? Who am I to judge anyone? I don't want to be judged, so I dare not judge others.

I'm not going to waste my time, or others' time, by ranting about how they're doing this or that wrong, and that God isn't happy with them. Instead, I will tell them that God loves them, and despite what the ultra conservatives preach, God very much will accept them.

There is a song, played and sung at the end of Billy Graham rallies which expresses this:
Just as I am, without one plea
but that thy blood was shed for me
and that thou bidst me come to thee
O Lamb of God, I come, I come
That's my message, too. I realize this song is specifically referring to Jesus, but don't worry about that now. Don't say Jesus, then. Just say God, or whatever name you know him by. If you honestly search for him, you will find him. He wants to be found.

Ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For every one who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. Matthew 7:7-8 Revised Standard Version

That's what it's talking about. Finding God.


Silver said...

It's about Finding God...

you're right on, Bev! Too many things and circumstances overwhelm us and crowd out the one most single important thing we always miss out.. it's all about finding Him..

Bevie said...

Thanks, Silver. My own hypocrisies concern me, though. I "preach", but I don't always "live". So it always comes back to God, and his love and forgiveness.