I heard the series CHRISTIAN from Andy Stanley two years ago, and it changed my view of Christianity. It was radical for me. It left me with two options: either to embrace Christianity as it stands now, or to think outside the box I was in. Was I a Christian? Yes, I was. Was it comfortable to be one? Yes, it was. Very comfortable. Did Jesus want me to be a Christian? No, He did not.
The word Christian or Christianity is not defined in the Bible. It was never used by Jesus himself. Actually, the word Christian [from the Greek Χριστιανός Christianos] appears only three times in the New Testament, and it was used by outsiders as a derogatory term. This whole movement Jesus started was named after His title: the Christ [Messiah in Hebrew].
But now a Christian can be anything you want it to be. You can be a Christian and do or believe just about anything. Think about it this way. In just about any political argument, any war, any lawsuit, any issue… there are always Christians on both sides. People have killed other people in the name of Christianity. There are so many cults, so many denominations, and for the most part, it seems we cannot agree with each other.
This sadly happens everywhere. It also happens in Islam. Sunni Muslims think that Shia Muslims are not real Muslims. I don’t get why. They believe in Allah and the final messenger, Muhammad. But apparently, the reasons are not something that can be explained in a line, a paragraph, a page, or even an article. I will do my research and will let you know. Reading this kind of stuff, and drinking coffee in the morning while my children watch T.V. is my thing nowadays. I tell you, when it comes to religion, Christianity and Islam are not that different.
Personally, I have hated Christianity at times. There ar dozens of people in my own peripheral world that hate Christians, and everything that has the word Christian in it. And here’s why:
Christians are judgmental, homophobic, moralists who think they are the only ones going to heaven and that secretly relish the fact that everyone else is going to hell.
– Andy Stanley
When I was far, far away from God, this was my first objection to God or Jesus or anything Christian. I don’t think the problem is God. People want God in their lives – at least most people. I think the problem is us. And when I say us, I mean all the Christians. Sure, nobody is perfect. But we were never called to be Christians. We were called to be Jesus’ disciples.
I have a friend whom I love with all my heart, and I want to share her story…
She has never believed in anything. But hey, she is in a relationship, and she is in love. The woman that she is dating wants them to go to church for whatever reason. My friend doesn’t know what to do. She hates church, but off she goes to please the girlfriend. She figures something good might come out of it. Therapy is working, but maybe God has His own way of helping her. Once they get to church, she sees wonderful things. But she also gets spotted as a lesbian. She is even asked if she had issues with her mom while growing up. You know, probably these Christians were also therapists trying to shoo her homosexuality away [sarcasm]. Then she’s told God dislikes homosexuals and that as women, we should marry a man, and obey that man. Because when we obey the man, then we are obeying God.
That’s not all. Heck, no… but I’ll stop there. When she told me all this – which I’m glad she did – I felt ashamed. I felt angry. I seriously think that regardless her sexual orientation, the questions these Christians were asking her are none of their business! That is just to start with; second, it is NONE of their business!
My friends are not going to church anymore. At least not in the near future. I wouldn’t want to go to church, either. I pleaded with them for not quitting on God. Quit church, but not God.
Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.
– Jesus. First Woe
The Teachers of the Law were very likely Levites. They were given the duty of instructing the people in the Law of Moses. They made sure the people worshipped God and fulfilled their obligations as God had instructed. The Pharisees competed with Jesus and with other groups for the influence of the people. Jewish Oral Tradition describes them as “destroyers of the world” and “Pharisaic plagues”.
In Matthew 23:1-12, Jesus goes hard at them. Jesus tells the people to do as Pharisees say, but not as they do, because they do not practice what they preach. All they want is for people to applaud them and honor them. They want to be noticed for how good they are, and how other people are not. These teachers were supposed to bring the people close to God, but instead they drove them away!
Today I was reminded that I have been these Pharisees. I have been judgmental, I have been moralistic. I have felt better than thou. What makes these Christians believe they had the right to treat my friends like this? What gave us the right? Nothing. Who gave us the right? No one. Not God. Not Jesus. But our own sin of self-righteousness.
God took me as I was eight years ago: multiple sexual partners, an abortion, an addiction, and plenty of psychological issues. I wonder about the Christians who drove my friends away from God. Who were they when they found the love of God? Have they actually found it? I have passed judgment on these Pharisees and Teachers of the Law every time I study my Bible. But I sadly realize that we, Christians, have become the Pharisees of Christianity.
TO BE CONTINUED…