Sunday, March 1, 2009

Jesus said: Love God, love others

This morning I got a message from an old friend, Terri. She and I were connected 20+ years ago by church, and our kids were about the same ages. I looked at some old photos from back then, and I read some posts from a facebook group that we have both joined, and then I checked out a blog entry from Jim Johnson, a gay-affirming blogger who posted worship songs. Altogether, plus other things I've been feeling, make it all so clear that I miss church.

What I don't miss is the "fairy-tale versions" of how life is supposed to turn out right if you trust God and "make the right choices." I don't miss hearing about how other people have problems because they didn't have faith, or enough faith. I don't miss the echoes of how bad the "gay activists" are polluting our country, because I have heard that exact reference. And I don't miss the ones who say, "the Lord led me..." or "God told me..." way more often than Moses ever heard from the Almighty.

But I miss being part of the group of people who are seeking to be part of a goodness bigger than themselves. Ones who are volunteering at the food bank, or collecting blankets for new unplanned and unexpected babies. I miss being the volunteer who opens my home to the youth group, so that the junior high kids can hang out and eat cookies here. I miss singing with all my heart to God, and expecting God to help me in my loneliness. (oh, wait, I still do that!) I miss having coffee and donuts in the basement of my old church, right before sending the kids to Sunday School to act all "hyper" because I gave them so much sugar (oh, wait, there is no proof that sugar actually does that!) I better get back to my point...

I really loved being part of a church where I fit in, and now I don't. It's hard for me to open up. I don't trust that God is real, at least not in the way I thought in the past. I'm still trying to sort what I was taught from what I have learned. What I was taught is that the Bible is ABSOLUTELY literal, and now I hold a different view. Even though I still believe that that Bible is to be trusted for guidance, and that God is its source, I think there are many cultural influences that have changed in the thousands of years since it was written, to now, for us, in the 21st Century.

It isn't just that I am now supporting and affirming of people who are gay/bi/trans. Once I realized that the "clobber passages" had different interpretations, I began to see that there is a lot that must be interpreted differently. I now see that Jesus might have come to really show us how to live in this world full of sinners, and that is to show love to ALL people. That isn't easy - it's hard, and I have to depend on God more than ever in order to do what Jesus asked of us: "Love God. Love others as you love yourself." It's not church in the old way, but something better.

I find it somewhat unhealthy to put myself through the gauntlet of walking with my head held high, trying to be part of a place that doesn't "fit" for me any more. At the same time, there are glimmers of hope that things are changing. I'm finding a few people who are gay-affirming. As we become more visible as straight allies, I KNOW more will come alongside me and all the ones who have been hurt by the church. If I can change to become gay-affirming, and reach out to even the ones who have yet to become so, perhaps we can make church BETTER. I think Jesus wants this, and God knows I sure need to be part of church.

Today is Sunday, and I want to go to church.


Tim Morris said...

I have found church in different ways. The newest "church" I am a part of is the local civic theater group. At one time in my life I would have been driven nuts with such an eclectic group. I would have felt the burden of needing to correct those who didn't "see the light".
Now church is just more me watching others and knowing that because of Christ they will be okay and my part in it all is to love them. Do I like everything I see? Who cares, I am not in control of others. I only control how I treat them. My acceptance of others has also brought peace to my heart.
I know what you are missing is different, I think you want your life back. I don't blame you. Maybe we can fulfill a taste of that with Rhythm of the Saints and take on some projects that help us to serve together and serve others.

Mark said...

Those kind of churches are out there. I've been fortunate to be part of a few of them (in London when I lived and worked there and here in Houston).

It's good to be part of a faith community that's focused on seeing the world as I think Jesus saw it and doing our little bit to expand the Kin-dom!

Vic said...

God! My hippie, gay, prostitute, friends and I are all crying for a place we can be together and find Jesus. My God we're so starving for him but there is no place, no place at all. We have been kicked out. We have been damned to hell. We have been told that Jesus is not for our type of people. My God I wonder if anyone in this cursed world knows how many of us have attempted suicide and are contemplating it presently. If we can not have Jesus, if we can not have love, what hell is worse than this?

deb said...

I find it sad that most of the anti-gay rhetoric (and attitudes and behaviors) come from religion, religious groups and religious people. Even sadder is that I believe that many of those people mean well. I don't think the violent people mean well, but the ones who are afraid someone will go to hell if they're gay do sometimes mean well.

I have long believed that if Jesus were here, He'd set everyone straight about these things. I don't mean make everyone straight. I mean He'd get everyone's thinking right, so that people would accept each other.

Carey said...

I went through some things in my first marriage and let me tell you that trying to wrap my mind around my upbringing in the Christian Faith vs. what my spouse was telling me was very shocking for me to say the least! However, most my personal pain came from acts of disrespect towards me in the marriage bed before learning of certain activities that happened outside our marriage bed. I should have been wise enough to leave that situation long before the situation got to the point where I was left. Having said all that, I still believe God has a perfect way. As a believer in Christ as the Messiah, I believe God set things in place for His glory in all things relating to marriage and committed love. I want to follow and walk in His ways. I believe marriage is a symbol of Christ's relationship with His church (His bride). I hope others come to that realization in their walk with Him. I Corinthians 13:4-8 is an encouragement of perfect love as He created it to be! There are many vices people have in life and especially in the Church, but the gathering together to join in worship to our loving God is a wonderful celebration of who we are in Him! We (who follow Him) are the church and I will worship with you in Christ next Sunday if you need support. Feel free to contact me and I will walk with you sister Carol. My views might not follow your views but I will walk with you.

Rob said...

There are some really good Churches out there. I feel blessed to have found the Church that I go to, where I'm loved and affirmed by the Church.

I know many have yet to find a Church like that, but keep looking is all I can say.

hillsideslide said...

There ARE some really great churches out there.... and I see them as beacons and inspiration for the rest of us.

For some people, it's a healthier and better choice to find a new church home.

In my case, I want to make MY church a Really Great Church!

(besides, if all of us leave, our voice won't be heard; the vision won't be shared)