Okay, so I’m going to be honest here. And yes, I know, some of my readers and patrons are members of my church…
It is really hard, for me, to be a Christian right now. And as a Christian pastor, I struggle with what my call is in times like these.
There comes a point when a brother can preach the gospel as carefully and non-partisan as possible, and then still get complaints for being too political. There comes a point when a sister can literally just share the denominations’ stance on issues and then get asked to be quiet because it’s too divisive. There comes a point when you wonder…are we doomed to just repeat history, are we literally just helpless robots trapped in the book of Judges, where everyone did what was right in their own eyes, and they all failed every time…Are we just reliving the Civil Rights movement, the Holocaust, every instance where privileged Christians over-spiritualized the faith without giving one concern for the under-privileged minority?
I’m just blurgh. I’m the guy on the floor. Face down. All the time. I’m tired of the fight. I’m tired of the constant anxiety of wondering if I’m doing the right thing or if I’m just part of the problem. I’ve got nothing.
Except I’m just still dumb enough to trust that Jesus Christ is real. I’m still just naive enough to trust that the God who created the universe and every molecule that forms the DNA of the person that drives me insane actually became human and died for him and me…
God, I just need a faith that died for me and my darkest enemy. I need a God that preparest-est a table for me in the presence of mine enemies. I need a God that hands the communion bread to the bravest apostles as well as his own betrayer.
If my faith doesn’t welcome my darkest enemy, what the hell am I believing in? If my faith doesn’t value my beautiful and wonderful conservative relative who disparages Christians like me because we believe in activism, what do I believe in? If my faith doesn’t get up tomorrow morning and make coffee for the English as Second Language Student refugees AND the wealthy community members who may just feel ‘safer’ because of the current ban on immigration, what God am I serving? If my faith can’t speak to and protect the sexually abused and also seek redemption and new creation for the perpetrator, should I just give up?
I’m tired of always questioning my motives. I usually approach my job with fear and trembling, but lately I’ll admit it’s just mostly trembling.
Because God knows I question my motives with every action and comic and ministry moment and parenting role and generally human action I take.
I’m tired of always wondering whether any of this is real.
I’m tired of being afraid that preaching the gospel will mean some rich person in my congregation will stop paying for my salary and I have to move out of the church’s parsonage and back in with my parents. My parents aren’t so bad.
I’ve never been more certain that Jesus Christ died for me just as much as he died for Donald Trump and what-ever no-name ISIS son of a gun wants to kill me. I’ve never been more sure that people will hate me for that sentence. I’ve never been more sure that Jesus Christ died for me as much as he died for the kid that was abused and the evil, entitled crap-face that abused him. I’ve never been more sure that Jesus Christ died for my wife and kids as he died for the person that doesn’t care if any of us died violently before you even get to read this stupid comic.
I’ve never been more sure that Jesus Christ rose from the dead. You can call it a myth. You can question whether Christianity matters any more when so many “Christians” have obliterated the Gospel with their own self-interest. You can troll my stupid Facebook post by calling me a hater and ignorant. But Christ died for you, too. And by God, there is nothing more tragic to me than the death of God because of me and you. There is nothing more upsetting to me than the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Because if we killed God, we’re all doomed. And somehow. We’re all saved. God, I am so proud of Jesus, and it’s something that kills me as a progressive Christian to see a conservative Christian write me off as if I believed in a different God than him.
So when I wake up in the morning and join members of my church in serving delicious coffee to mostly wealthy and wonderful white Americans who bring their kids to our church’s children’s center, as well as French and African and Middle Eastern and Asian ESL students who don’t know what I mean when I say, “Free Coffee,” I hope that ALL of those people can see the love of Christ in me. I hope that all of those people can sense that for a moment, just a moment, everything else is less important because somebody looked them in the eye and valued their image-of-God-ness.
I don’t have church history or theology lesson for you this week. I just have face-down-on-the-floor-Blurgh. And the deepest conviction that Jesus Christ went way deeper than my darkest issues and brought many…MANY children to glory. Thank God Jesus calls the weary to come to him, because that’s all I can do these days. Bless you in the fight. Bless you in the struggle. Bless you in the persistence and the doubt, the conviction and the brink of despair. Because Jesus went there. And came back from the dead. And I’ve never been more sure that we will too.