So, I didn’t watch the hateful speech by the North Carolina pastor. I read about it all over the interwebs, including Eugene Cho’s most excellent pastoral response. I don’t need to watch it. I have no desire to put more anger into this world. I’ve got enough of my own to deal with.
That said, I’m still filled with anger, sorrow, pain, disbelief, and embarrassment. Hate filled speeches that use the name of Jesus make me start wondering if I can’t call myself something else. Maybe I can join the groups of people who prefer to call themselves Christ-followers or Jesus people. Maybe I can find or start another offshoot of the faith of Jesus with which I can align myself, one that doesn’t all-too-regularly cause me to want to either hide my Christianity or apologize on behalf of it. But that would be the easy way out. And Jesus is about many things, but none of them involve taking the easy way.
First, to the non-Christians, in-the-closet Christians and everyone who has been hurt by Christians/the church — I am so sorry for all of the pain that hate in the name of God continues to cause. It’s not just me. Hundreds of thousands of Christians across the United States find hate speech to be abhorrent. I can’t speak for them, though. I can say this: Jesus’ number one topic is self-sacrificing love of God and neighbor. Jesus consistently calls people into his life that society looks down upon. He calls them into his ministry. And he never sticks a finger in their face and tells them all the ways they’re fucked up. For being the judge he’s not very judgmental.
When asked what is the most important commandment, Jesus replies, ” ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.” On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” That’s it. That’s what Christians are called to do. In fact, that’s what humans are called to do. We are called to love. There are many Christians who forget this and use the Bible as a way to express their own fears/issues/inadequacies. These Christians hide behind the Bible, perverting it to support their fears, ignorance and prejudices. These Christians have totally lost sight of Christ. For them, we pray.
Christians who “speak truth in love” and/or use threats of damnation and hellfire to convert people — CUT THAT SHIT OUT. For real. No one hears what you are saying as loving. Most people who don’t believe in God also don’t believe in Hell, so your threats are pointless. You just come off as holier-than-thou, condescending and judgmental. Also, Jesus didn’t do that. When he called sinners, he just hung out with them and loved them. If he had a point to make, Jesus told weird stories that he expected people to not understand. Try those things.
Christian brothers and sisters who want to spread the love — it’s time we turned the volume up on our love. We can’t continue to be quiet about our love for God in Christ and our love for neighbor, hoping that we won’t have to talk about Jesus. We can’t stay quiet and unobtrusive because we are afraid that the world will put us Christians who are trying to live out Christ’s command to love in the same box as the angry, frightened, screaming Christians that are on TV and who show up at festivals with signs of damnation. We have to get loud about love in Christ.
I’m not talking about telling all of your friends that you love Jesus, putting Christian bumper stickers all over your car, or buying a bunch of t-shirts at the Christian store. Buy a billboard, make a t-shirt, post Christian blogs that spread the love on Facebook (check my blogroll if you need some). Talk about church (if you go to one). Share your love with everyone around you and find ways to let everyone know that the love you have, the work you do, the justice you seek is because of Jesus, not in spite of his followers. For every hate-filled sermon, there are so many more that are about love. Share them on you tube, post them on Facebook, tweet them. Sure, they won’t get as much attention as the shouting, terrified pastor spewing hate, but at least it will be out there. Share the love of Christ. Share that your love is because of Christ. Get loud about love. Take the title Christian back.
A poem by Father Daniel Berrigan, an awesome example of what Christians can look like, followed by the song Dar Williams wrote about him.