I was watching a discussion yesterday and I felt a great amount of care and love towards two individuals who were participating in the controversial talk – as atheists. But the elephant in the room – the labels that we wear and the ideas that are attached to them… they are so sad. It’s like we’re placed in these groups with the utterance of a single word. We’ve been trained to define another’s heart by the representation of a world that seeks to define everything, while misrepresenting everything. And honestly, who we do we think we are? If Jesus is the author and the last will be made first, how important are the days that we live in and the ones who are called in the final hour? Only God can see the heart.
One of the guys I was able to speak to alone for a few minutes, while we were standing outside of the studio. He talked about his busy life and how art has been an escape for him from his PTSD that he believes he developed from many years of witnesses horrific trauma as an EMT. I could sense the pain in his eyes as he spoke on the surface of something very difficult and deep that haunts him internally. And I can only imagine the severity of what this man has seen – thinking through my own issues of panic disorder and sleeplessness following the horrific things I’ve experienced. When the subject of God (in a religious sense was on the table) I could feel his anger and disappointment. He shot out a few examples of horrible deaths he’d watched and the circumstances that destroyed lives. “I just don’t believe that a good God would allow these things to happen.” He concluded. And one would (under a trained belief system of robotic response), likely call this blasphemy or ignorance. But do the ones who travel through great trials land in ignorance because they don’t seek? Or is that burning question that’s been tattood on their hearts perfectly situated with great purpose? Truly seeking answers requires true reason to do so. Everything else is face-value and on the surface.. bologna – meaningless. Not one that came to know the Lord walked an easy path to wisdom. Bless this man’s heart. I feel his pain and I know his journey. And I believe if it is the Lord’s will, an authentic revelation will manifest in this man’s pain.
The other man who said he’s an atheist had a more colorful approach to his beliefs – though also tinted with pain from experiencing the murder of a close family member – his grandfather, who happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. He too had a bit of anger resulting from the way his grandfather’s murderer was set free to walk the streets and live a normal life after taking so much from he and his family away. Where is the justice? Where is karma? Where is any of this recorded and how does it make sense? The temporary things perhaps never make sense but in God’s timing it certainly will. The young man talked about our ignorance as a people in not educating ourselves on different beliefs, cultures and religions around the world. But he spoke softly and lovingly about his beliefs in loving other people and treating people with respect. He talked about caring for the poor (many beautiful ideas that should grace all of our hearts). When I asked him a question using the name Jesus, I could sense the offense in his body language – his distaste in what he described as “religion” and specifically “Christianity”.
Is it ok to admit that I know exactly how he feels? Is it ok to confess the opposition that I’ve felt towards Christianity, beginning when I was a child, outside looking in to behavior of a people that seemed outright backwards to me. And is it ok to be transparent in the blatant hypocrisy that I’ve seen and felt and ran away from – driving my own questions, research and concluded disbelief in accordance to the populous called “Christianity” that I’m surrounded by?
Over 70% of the US population says they are Christians. There’s a christian church of some sort (hundreds of variations – different belief systems and denominations) on virtually every corner of every city in this country. And as we look at a broken system full of broken people that seems to worsen with every passing day, is it practical to ask ourselves what is wrong with this picture? How a people of a “Christian nation” who profess the name Jesus Christ are responsible for a way of life that I’m not sure anyone can argue, is completely and utterly disgusting. If that offends you, you’re not paying attention to whats going on in our communities and our world. People are broken…. broken badly. And who cares?
So what’s the answer to darkened hearts, lifestyles that are focused on selfish desire and self exaltation – a people that have zero to little care for the sick or the poor (we literally throw away our elderly and disabled as a system), we focus our efforts on a “what’s in it for me” mentality, we headline disputes with hatred, division and intolerance and we somehow do all this while wearing the label “Christians”. We are masters at destroying one another and tearing people down. We see little value in this competitive rat race to lift others up anymore. Jesus said “don’t be conformed to this world.” He said “many are called FEW ARE CHOSEN”. He said the “path is narrow and FEW will find it”. Yet somehow, we have merged culture with religion and stirred up this yucky pot of vomit to call this way of life we live “Christianity.”…. and we would be so naive to think that this 70-something percent of the population of the United States is actually on that narrow path that few will find…. the folks that Jesus calls “few”. Where are these few today?
I remember as a teenager, in a very fragile time of my life, making a decision to attend church by myself. I was in a really low place and I felt lost. I was looking for answers and it didn’t matter what the preacher taught or what the point of Christ stood for, the thing I remember was feeling like an outcast – feeling nonredeemable and out of place – like a lost cause, a species that just didn’t fit the mold. I remember thinking if Christ is real, he doesn’t like me much. I stopped believing in Jesus. Not that I every truly believed – but I opposed the teachings that I’d been brought up with. And privately, I remained that way most of my life.
Today, I know for a fact that Jesus is Lord. But this reality for me has nothing to do with what others say or claim. It has ZERO to do with what I’ve been taught. In fact, today I struggle to find a people that I can relate to inside of a building called a church. I don’t look down on these establishments and certainly respect the people that put their time and heart into these places, I just don’t feel the Lord in these gatherings – instead, I often feel the WORLD in them. It seems like in present times, we take the Word of God and mold it into a tool to make us feel better about ourselves – motivational messages of self-help, self-healing, self-advancement – meshing the old with the new to create a wine that speaks the name of Jesus without a convicted change of heart – without a desire to lay down our lives, pick up a cross and follow the one we say we believe in. And the sword that points directly at our hearts, we so easily redirect, placing a target on everyone else’s head. Like we’re better than others – self-righteous discernment of good and evil that never delivers us to face the true enemy in the mirror.
When talking to those beautiful people yesterday, I just felt the resistance inside of myself, wanting to say, “Please don’t put me in that mold – in that group.” I’m not religious – religion never saved me from anything. I’m not judgemental – I know how horrible I am as to need a savior, so how can I look at you with hypocritical eyes? I don’t claim Jesus because the world around me said so. I know Him because in my disbelief, he revealed who he truly is to me. But sadly, the label has been established and it’s a stronghold in our culture today. Christianity means what anymore? Again… where are these few?
I just feel so sad about this idea – loving people and yet feeling like they look at me with opposition, expecting me to be judgemental or holier than thou at the mention of the name of Jesus. And that’s the opposite of how I feel in my heart. I’m sad that it’s become this way, although I know that was framed way before I was ever placed here. I’m sad about our lack of knowledge. I’m sad about the twisting of the Gospel that’s taken place for thousands of years (and by the way, Paul spoke of this too). 1 Corinthians 4:15, he was trying to correct them – he spoke of the 10,000 instructors in Christ that tried to persuade this people, and he basically said, don’t buy into them, listen to ME. I’m sad that the ways of the Western world hide under the name Christianity having no fruit of the love, compassion and sacrificial work of our Lord Jesus our Savior. I’m sad that the wolves are indeed in sheeps clothing. I’m sad that the enemy has successfully picked up the most crafty alibi possible — masquerading as an angel of light, implanting self-love, self-will and the very sin he committed that resulted in him falling from heaven.. into the eyes and minds and hearts of a broad path to destruction… and with it comes the label..
I don’t know… I mean who am I to even make a conclusion to where the world is at today or where the battle lines have been drawn? It’s in trouble, I feel that strongly. The earth is changing so rapidly and there’s pain and suffering every direction we turn. Yet, it’s like we remain in this little bubble of false-securities, oblivious to all that hasn’t yet made it’s way into our own homes. I’m just a girl on a journey with a broken heart for this messed up place that I know I don’t belong to. My heart hurts for the lost… for the hurting… for the ones who feel I have and aren’t sure where to turn for answers and hope. I know Jesus is with us. He’s everywhere. He knows and he sees and he has empathy and compassion for us. I know He’s already won. I just pray we can break free from ourselves and our foolish pride to truly find his mind and his heart and his love before it’s too late. I pray that he’d reveal himself to us directly, because that’s the only thing that’s real. I pray that we stop following others, and seeking answers from pharisees and doctrines of devils and that we humble ourselves and seek HIM DIRECTLY. I pray that he breaks through our mountains of lies and convicts us for real to know Him and live for him with whatever time we have left. I pray that HIS NAME be exalted in all the nations and these ideas and cultures and beliefs and things we’ve created to use against one another get torn down forever. I pray that the veil be lifted and the tricks of the enemy be destroyed. I pray for the first because we don’t seem to care about the last and I feel we’re all walking on dangerous grounds. I pray that these groups and labels be exposed and the truth within our hearts come to surface. And I don’t even know how to express that Lord. But I know you’re near to the broken hearted and you save the contrite spirit. Tear down the proud and get it out of me too. I don’t want anything to do with it. I don’t want to ever look at another human being and think that I’m above them in any way… that I’m smarter than them or wiser or better molded…. or that anything I have to give can save them.. I can’t even save myself. You are the potter and I’m nothing without you. None of us are. Whatever we believe in Lord, it’s by your design. Open the eyes of the ones you choose and whoever that “few” is… Lord I pray for their strength and your protection over their hearts. Your will be done.