This Easter I am thinking through a lot of where I stand with my faith and relationship with Jesus. I feel like my outward faith looks a lot different than it used to for much of my life, and my relationship with the Church and many Christians in general feels quite different also.
I see some of my old Twitter posts that come up on my TimeHop – like on December 9, 2012 saying “Hello everybody. If you don’t know God, I think you should because He is SO good. Feel free to talk to me!” or on April 4, 2012 when I retweeted “My heart breaks for my friends that don’t have the joy of the Lord in their hearts. #overflowoflove”. I used to be the type of person who said these things all of the time, and it’s not that I don’t still agree with certain aspects of them, but I certainly wouldn’t say those things now.
I struggle with some of the things that I used to stand for as a Christian, and some of the ways that I used to be. (I’ve moved on, I’m not dwelling on it). I think about the mission trips that I went on without any understanding of race or the hurt many communities have faced as a result of white missionaries and colonization. I have actually apologized to friends who in the past I felt I really needed to help get to know Jesus and would frequently share the gospel with them – apologizing if that made them uncomfortable at all & letting them know it was out of care for them and I was showing that care how I knew to at the time. I think about some conversations I may have had with people who have faced real hurt from Christian communities that have judged their lifestyle in one way or another, when I didn’t know the history of this hurt. As I’ve learned more and more of the history of the Church and some of the terrible things that have unfortunately been done “in the name of Jesus”, I’ve struggled to know where I fit within the Christian community.
Some of the things I value most are people feeling loved, people being included, and people being able to be fully themselves & still experience this love & inclusion. I know that these things exist within what the Church is intended to be. The difficult thing is that when I promote some of these things, especially anything that is more progressive, the hurtful pushback I get is most often by Christians. A friend once cracked me up when she said “Christians are the worst and we have to spend eternity with them!” I think about that so often now. I know that in Heaven I won’t be dwelling on these things, but I also wonder about if I am dreading spending time with some of these Christians, why would non-believers want to get to know Jesus and spend even more time with these people? I think by not listening to other people’s experiences & only pushing our own agenda, it is pushing people even further from knowing Jesus – and that’s certainly one of the things I used to do too.
Thankfully, I also know Jesus in new ways now and can understand more of what He stood for. I’m incredibly thankful that as I have started to push back on some of the things I have learned within the Church, the person of Jesus has remained as somebody I’m so glad to follow. Jesus’ vision for the Church and for how we live our lives as Christians is so radical, and I believe much of the Church (including myself) is missing the mark as we represent who He is & what He modeled for us during His time on earth.
I share a bit of my perspective on all of this mostly just to be honest, but also to point out that there is not only one way to follow Jesus. There is room to push back & ask hard questions. I’m sorry if you have been hurt by the Church. I hope that you know that there is still room to know Jesus. Looking back to those previous tweets that I shared, I still stand by the fact that I do want people to know Jesus because He has been such a deeply good part of my life & He continues to be the most important thing to me. This Easter, I want to acknowledge the struggle you may have with Christianity but also welcome you in to ask questions if you’re curious. I’m incredibly thankful to have so many wonderful Christians in my life who I can learn & grow alongside of. I’m thankful to be a part of a church body that dives into these harder questions and doesn’t stick with the status quo. I have a lot of hope for the Church and am very thankful that through all of my journeying, Jesus has been right here with me, loving me consistently through it all. That love is something I’ve never doubted.
So, this Easter, though my outward faith may look or feel different than it has in the past, I remain incredibly thankful for my Savior, who did view me & each of you as worthy to die for.