In the last couple of weeks I have come across some news articles from some folks who are supposedly ‘Christian’. I say ‘supposedly’ because I truly wonder if they read the same Bible that I read and follow the same Jesus that I have come to know and love. I also call myself a Christian, but I am definitely not in their camp. Not even close. In fact I am so far away it almost makes me want to either change my identity as a ‘Christian’ (no, I am not walking away from my faith), or have them banned from using the name/word ‘Christian’.
It’s the religious/legalistic folks out there that make it so hard for the vast majority of us who are sincerely trying to shape our lives in response to God’s love for us. We follow because we genuinely love Jesus and simply want our lives to be a fragrance of his love to those we live with, neighbour with, and work with. We live our lives with Jesus.
But then there are others. From the outside, they look okay, they dress normal, and are cordial…and they appear to ‘know their Bible’. The problem is when they want to prove to you that they ‘know their Bible’. As soon as they open their mouth you can detect this putrid smell emanating from it.
With their words they damn everybody around them who is not Christian, and they damn everyone in the church who does not hold to their exact doctrinal beliefs. And in the end they damn the very One they profess to follow…all with the caustic words that spew from their mouths. They sound religious…and that’s the problem, they are so bent on being right, that they hammer people with their words and Bible.
If they just stuck to themselves, I would be content not to write about this, but it’s folks like these that attract the media. No doubt they provide an interesting story, which of course draws people to listen, read or watch that outlet. The problem is, the rest of the world is reading or watching this ‘news’ and assuming these ‘starch-in-your-underwear’ believers are representative of us all!
I had a gripe session with God about this during my ‘not-so-quiet-time’ the other day. I wanted to know what we were to do about these maligners and vicious religious people. Well…God being God he didn’t beat around the bush, but drove straight to the point, basically saying to me: “Careful Scott. In your desire to attack them you are setting yourself up to being religious yourself. Just go about living your own life with me. Love ALL people – including them, and trust that I will deal with them, as I will deal with everyone. The world will always have religious people. Just make sure that you don’t become one of them. And while you’re at it, why don’t you try what I suggest…bless them and pray for them.”
Ok…so in some weird way, my righteous anger has ventured into the ‘religious’ territory. Go figure!
Today I’m going to continually remind myself that it’s all about grace.
Grace for the sinner, grace for myself, and yes…grace for the religious zealot, too. (Sheesh…this is hard!)