"There is religion and then there is relationship and realignment with Christ."
I shared some of what my uncle said on my personal Facebook page last week, and one response was, “I wish more Christians knew this.” This post reminded me of a conversation I had with a friend, which I journaled about, a few months ago:
As I was driving home from some time in the mountains, I decided to catch up with a friend who lives in another state. I gave her a call, and as with close friends, we were able to pick up where we left off after having not talked in months. It was great to hear her voice.
We talked about our normal topics: relationships, family, work, goals; and in the course of our conversation we talked about religion. That’s when, to my surprise, she shared with me that she didn’t think of me as a Christian.
After several seconds of shared silence, she continued, "How you live doesn’t say to me that you are a Christian." I was becoming more concerned and anxious to know where she was going with her point since I am a Christian and try, daily, to "let my light shine."
"You are welcoming of others. You love people, regardless of who they are, and you surround yourself by those who are different," she shared.
My twisted, confused-for-a-moment expression was naturally being replaced by a smile as I asked, in a somewhat rhetorical tone, "Ha, but isn't that what Jesus did?"
"That’s what I’ve read [in the Bible] but most of the Christians today are not like that. They are the most judgmental persons I know and I seldom see Jesus in them," my friend responded.
I could hear the disappointment in her voice, and my heart ached. We continued our conversation for several more miles of my journey, but after we ended our talk and said our goodbyes, I thought of how the word "Christianity" for many "born again" believers now has a negative connation. It’s not uncommon for unbelievers to have negative thoughts/things to say about the faith, but my friend’s comment, as someone who too is "saved," struck me deeply.
During the rest of my drive home I couldn’t help but to think about what I believe is the basis of being a follower of Jesus Christ, and it’s just as my uncle said the other day, "LOVE."
Nowhere is it recorded in the Bible that Jesus distanced himself or was afraid of someone because he/she was "different" from him. He stood firm on who he was in God, in Truth; and opened himself for ALL, in love and with compassion, knowing Love was the missing ingredient.
There’s a song I learned when I was a child, and perhaps you did too, "They'll know we are Christians by our love." We too, like Jesus, are called to be uncompromising in our faith. But somehow, I’m afraid, we have interpreted this to mean we are to be judgmental. That's fear-based thinking and of the ego, not of the spirit. We are born of the Spirit.
How is it that we, as Christians, are known more for hate, judgment, and separation when this thinking and behavior goes against the teachings of Jesus; and known less for justice, service, and love when that's all that Jesus stood for? There is religion and then there is relationship and realignment with Christ. There is a difference, and it is becoming more evident as we enter the era of deeper awareness and transcendence.
So, if embracing others -- regardless of who they are -- with the love of God means that we are not Christians, isn't it time that we demonstrate a new way of Christianity? Isn't it time to show what it means to be a lover of Jesus, and not just a follower or churchgoer? Isn't it time we move from being a container of God's grace to being a conduit for it?
I say it's passed time!