Entering The Confessional In Charlie’s Church of Christ, Or The People Who Irk Me Most (Ironically, Religious People)

Now I could have written a long and dramatic build up leading to the revealing of who annoys me, tests my limits and pushes my buttons more than anyone else in the world, or instead I could just give away the ending right off the bat in the title like Jon Krakauer. I’ve chosen the latter.

Overall I think me a fairly, not yet overly, gracious person. I judge, especially when I’m behind the wheel an automobile (and especially while riding my bicycle, which I  use more than a car), but nonetheless I do try to be gracious in my thoughts and my words, and even to give people the benefit of the doubt.

There is a very notable, and as mentioned above, ironic exception to this graciousness: religious people.

More specifically – conservative Christian religious people.

I could sit around one of those banquet tables Jesus mentioned, both on heaven and earth (hopefully someday they’ll be one in the same) and goof around with and share stories with gay people, drunks, criminals and lower class people with little effort. However the entire dynamic would change if a fundamentalist pulled up a chair and sat down with his plate.

I’d shut down. I’d shut up. My demeanor would change. My face would scrunch up.

I’d struggle not to insert snappy and condemning comments and observations at strikingly regular intervals.

I’d justify in my mind by remembering they are the people Jesus saved his harshest critique for in the gospel stories. And I’d lie to myself by convincing my heart that by criticizing them is simply carrying on the work of Jesus.

I’d do some wild and creative mental olympics, albeit destructive ones.

This blog will endlessly explore the reasons behind this. In many ways this should have been my very first post here on Charlie’s Church of Christ, in order to give context to every word that would follow.

It would not be beneficial for my healing process to list in this post all the ways that semi-justify my struggles to love and care for fellow Christians – the very people I am supposed to feel a brotherhood alongside of, the very people with whom I share a body.

Unfortunately it is entirely clear to me that the grace I need to learn is not for the least of these, but for the allegedly righteous.

I write this post as a confession, not as a teaching. Maybe now that I’m realizing my need to give these people grace, and maybe now admitting my need to bestow mercy, maybe I will take the very first step.

I don’t stay steps, because I’m expecting there to be initially just one, and for it be a baby step.

But for me it’ll be as big as the first step on the moon.

Do you share this problem alongside of me? Any advice for a guy on how to do this?

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2 Responses to Entering The Confessional In Charlie’s Church of Christ, Or The People Who Irk Me Most (Ironically, Religious People)

  1. David says:

    Well, healing is good! I’ve had some rough patches with the church.

    It appears that the church is either liberal or conservative for you. It is not the case. We are to be inclusive of all folks – the sinners, our enemies the lost, the religious bigots and those that belong to political parties. Love is love.

    The problem arises when the bible is in conflict with our emotions and/or desires. Let’s take, for instance, of being drunk. Some can have a drink or two and be fine. An alcoholic can’t even have one drink without eventually getting drunk and committing the “sin” of drunkenness. Some Christians think that having a drink is sin. I once taught at a Christian school that was basically conservative. Drinking was not allowed. I had the discussion with the principal. I told him that I didn’t have any problem with someone having a drink, and that I believed it was permissible. He sort of made wisecrack about how my denomination allowed one drink where his allowed none. It totally misses the point of drunkenness being a sin. For those that can have a drink or two and not sin, I say go for it!

    Another problem arises when someone is an alcoholic. If they are in the throws, they are sinning all the time. WWJD? Jesus approach would preach the gospel of salvation. He would have loved this person without trying to change them before allowing them in church. Being and alcoholic is not a sin, drunkenness is. If you can’t stay sober, then it is best not to drink.

    It is the same with gays. Why we feel the need to change folks before we love them is retarded. We can’t stop and alcoholic from drinking to excess, we can only offer them the gospel in which God can set them free from the desire to sin, and provide a way out of temptation. It doesn’t matter what the sin is.

    When it comes to grace, YOU can’t do anything. It is only God who allows you to love, and provide grace. If you are having a hard time with that, you just need more of Jesus and less of Charlie. 🙂

  2. David – so sorry for the late reply! Totally exhausting week, and still exhausted now.

    I’m definitely tracking with you on the “we want to change people before we love them” thing. Most Christians have it totally backward, and want all sorts of exceptions and clauses that will exclude them from having to love – and lets be honest – you can find one for everybody.

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