3 points to summarize this post:
#1: LOVE is the point of it all.
#2: You have to experience Jesus otherwise you have no idea what you are talking about, and please don’t claim to know all about Christianity.
#3: For Christians; not everyone believes as we do (there is even division within the faith) so see point #1, we are all in progress.
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In order for this to make sense, you have to know what I believe.
I get apprehensive when people put down and bash “Christianity” as a whole. I wouldn’t consider myself an apologetic, but I find myself playing that role more often lately.
As an organized religion, when it is healthy, there are immense amounts of good that Christianity can perform, the hungry are fed, the homeless are sheltered, the broken-hearted are comforted…
As an organized religion, when it fails, there is also tremendous harm that can be done. If you look over time, this failure tends to occur when – as an organized religion – focus is placed on, and substituted with, the teachings, thoughts, and opinions of any person other than Jesus.
When LOVE is substituted for rules, process, hierarchy… we should run!
One note I’d like to interject here is that it is also important to make a distinction between religion as an institution versus the belief system. **As an institution, religion aims to further the teachings and causes of a specific belief system – this is where you see hierarchies, titles, diocese, parishes, etc**. As a belief system, it is inherently personal – a pursuit of a relationship with a higher deity by being in community with others who share the same belief system. Today we are seeing more and more Christians rejecting the institutionalized form of Christian religion.
Also understand that as an institution, Christians are trying to get it right, this is why you see so many denominations. When our instincts tell us that the current institution is starting to sway in its interpretation of the gospel, you’ll see a group break away – as did the Protestant Reformation – in search of the ultimate truth.
The fact is that some have been terribly hurt in the midst of the Christian church. Sometimes the damage is done in a specific permutation such as Catholic or Pentecostal or Lutheran, maybe even Anglican. I am not denying that the pain is very real, but to throw a blanket over the entire Christian spectrum is misleading and irresponsible.
I would also posit that for most Christian antagonists, the source of pain has come from the decisions of one individual (maybe a leader) in the church. Our problem as Christians in an institutionalized setting is that we do not always hold our leaders accountable when they are wrong – because we are trying to protect the institution [see ** above].
For me, the key is to focus on the belief system – that says Love God, Love Others. One simply has to experience Jesus and a relationship with him. For me, this relationship became amplified when my family went through the kidney transplant ordeal.
Only in a relationship with Christ can anyone express the true merit of the Christian faith.
And with any love-based relationship, the manifestation of affection, disdain, or even admonition will vary. If you throw in some cultural context, Christianity sometimes feels like a buffet – the point is that Christ is inviting us.
With any relationship, when a non-participant offers their, sometimes academic observation and opinions, it is usually met with defensiveness and “you have no idea what you are talking about”. I have to check myself here because I get so upset when people cite the crusades from the 11th century as one explanation to why my belief system is flawed…
At the end of the day, we ALL have to be careful in our assessment of one another – especially beliefs. What I am seeing is that the new breed of Christianity-haters are indulging themselves in the same hypocritical and prejudicial behavior that they accuse Christians of.
If you are going to bash Christianity, please be specific, don’t paint the faith with broad strokes. With your specificity, maybe we can address some of our issues.
Thank you for taking the time to read this. Some day soon I’ll try to write about the monotheistic claim of the Christian faith…