Dear World, I’m A Christian, But…

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I am a Christian.

I have a hard time saying that lately, because I know what you’re probably thinking about me the moment I do.

You watch the news and you see what’s happening in America, and you have an image in your mind of Christians which I fear you probably automatically lump me into by default.

I understand why. I know that the loudest voices often carry the greatest weight, and right now those voices speaking for my faith tradition are heavy on acrimony and painfully short on compassion. Those voices reek of bigotry and entitlement and manufactured martyrdom. They speak with cruelty and malice and malevolence—but they do not speak for me.

I absolutely don’t believe they speak for Jesus either.

I need you to know that what you are witnessing here, does not represent me or millions of people like me. I need you to know that Mike Pence and FoxNews and Donald Trump do not speak for us or for the Christianity we have devoted our lives to. They do not reflect our hearts for all people, or many of the things we aspire to do and be in this world.

I really miss my Kid Christianity.

I was raised on the stories of Jesus. They were the sweet milk of my childhood faith. Long before I ever knew what a political party was, before I ever heard the words Conservative or Liberal; long before I knew what denominations or media bias or culture wars were, I had this Jesus:

He was the one who was born into barren smallness, amidst the smell of damp straw and animal dung.

The one who called people to leave security and home and livelihood behind, in order to model the truly blessed life together.

The one who lived in homeless humility, living off the generosity of those whose thankful hearts gave a home to his words.

The one who defied rules of decorum and purity and tradition in order to bring healing and comfort and hope.

The one who spoke of relentless forgiveness for wrongdoing, of praying earnestly for enemies, of lavishly loving the least, of radically showing mercy.

The one who fed thousands of strangers on a hillside, not because they were deserving or morally fit, but because they were hungry.

The one who preached about the Kingdom of God; a way of being rooted in selflessness and sacrifice; one in direct, defiant opposition to the greed and power and inequality of the day.

The one who spoke unflinchingly into injustice and corruption and religious hypocrisy, and into the hearts and the systems that created and nurtured them.

The one who regularly ate with the priests and the prostitutes, treating both with equal dignity.

The one who endured wrongful imprisonment, brutal violence, and excruciating execution to show the world what love looks like when it pours itself out completely for others.

This is the Jesus that first spoke to me and inspired me and gripped my spirit, and the one that still compels me today even as I struggle to find my place in the faith tradition of my childhood.

It is this Jesus that I cling desperately to when hope in my people and our religion is failing.

It is this Jesus I fear you’re no longer able to see in so much of the faith that bears his name.

Yet I am still fiercely burdened to show you this Jesus; to remind you that there are people just like me still out there, who believe that faith is never meant to broker power or position, to exclude or exploit.

I want you to know that there are people who believe that defending equality in all forms is a non-negotiable for someone who claims Christ.

I want you to know that there are still people who believe that the Bible is a tool to help us personally encounter God, not to publicly bulldoze those we disagree with or fear.

I want you to know that there people out there who believe that the sacred way is to take the lowest place and to give to those who have less and to rescue those held captive.

I also know that part of this is my fault; for being complacent and passive and silent; for being complicit in this gradual hijacking of Jesus by allowing it—but I won’t make that mistake any more.

I am going to be much louder with this love, until it shouts out the angry taunts and insults and war rhetoric of those who have commandeered Christianity and turned it into something far less beautiful, far less hope-giving, far less deserving of Jesus’ name.

This is my hope and prayer.

Yes, Dear World—I am a still Christian.

265 thoughts on “Dear World, I’m A Christian, But…

    • There is no but to being a Christian. Either you are fully committed to Christ and his commandments or you are just trying to walk the walk at intervals of covienience. It does not matter what the world thinks nor does anyone define Christianity but God and His Son. As far as knowing the Jesus of your childhood, He is still the same and His truths are still the same. Maybe it is time for some maturity in the knowledge that you learned and apply it to present day circumstances.

      • I think you missed the point of the post. The author is not saying that Christ or Christianity has changed, just what is talked about. He’s saying the focus has changed, and he thinks the focus now is wrong.

      • I am a true Christian committed to God’s Word and this article left me almost crying for the person who wrote it. It seems that this man doesn’t like to be “lumped” into groups with other people, but he ended up creating the very thing he says he doesn’t like or want to happen. The people and entities that he named should not be put into the same group. They all have very different convictions. Mike Huckabee is in a different “place” than Kim Davis, and definitely than Donald Trump. And Fox News is a channel, so they will end up having multiple variations of belief systems, but will never fully commit to any one because they know that would affect their ratings. I’ve seen Mike Huckabee stand for God’s principles when he knew it would cost him something and we all just saw Kim Davis completely stand for her beliefs knowing it might, and ultimately did cost her, jail time. Donald Trump will go wherever the wind blows him. God said to be in the world, but not of it. We have way to many “christians” being to OF the world right now. We should not worry what the world thinks! Proclaim that you are a Christian without hesitation or anxiety. God will work it all out in the end. He does not tell us to spread the Gospel when it’s convenient, makes us feel good, or when we will receive something in return. He just says to spread it. Think about what Paul and Peter and Timothy went through! It wasn’t popular to say you were a Christian back then either and people obviously had the wrong idea of what being a Christian meant. Being a follower, believer, and Christian means loving God with all your heart soul and mind and not worrying about what man thinks. I’m disappointed to see this author encourage people in becoming even more divisive than we already are, we need to be coming together in unity. This author obviously hasn’t done his homework on what he’s writing about and so I encourage those who felt built up by him to take a step back and reevaluate what being a Christian means to God, not to the world. God Bless and praying for God to open ears, heart, and minds to His Truth and Wisdom.

      • Viki- lemme guess… he’s not a “true christian”… right? His love for all people is NOT what Jesus commanded after all, right? He better “grow up” .. don’t you mean “grow into” YOUR form of religion? I say religion.. NOT Christianity… because you’re already judging… he isn’t. His hope is to remind people that there IS a Jesus people believe in who made non-judgment non-negotiable. That’s why religion will continue to fail… Clenched, repressed, anxiety-ridden, judgmental tight-ass church goers are most definitely NOT a good reflection of what Jesus wanted from his disciples. I think you’ll be very surprised with what the future holds for the religiously arrogant club….

      • The article said but… It didn’t agree with the most recent actions taken by Republicans. He still believes, no but in his faith, it’s the folks using the Bible inappropriately.

      • Viki, it occurs to me that your message and John’s say pretty much the same thing–except his lacks that air of superiority so many of us find demeaning.

      • There is always room for “but.” God wants us to question.. He didn’t create a bunch of ignorant blind followers.. How boring would that be for him.

      • I agree completely. Encompassing the entire love of Jesus means praying for and loving the Donald Trumps too. It’s not them or us, it’s all or nothing.

    • I struggle with the choices my brothers and sisters make too. I don’t feel they are Gods heart. He’s so loving and amazing. I do think he’s going to use Trump mightily and mainly because he’s not a Christian. I’m not sure the world could receive a Christian leader right now. Because he’s not a Christian we have to be lenient on his haughtiness and see through it to the boldness God wants for our country. Boldness and truths always win out.

      • There’s boldness and then there’s arrogance. As for truth, that’s always a matter of interpretation by each individual person as God speaks directly to their heart. I think respect for each person’s interpretation of truth is what matters – as long as government laws are not broken.

      • God use Donald Trump? Hopefully as the recipient of a spare lightning bolt. If you read your Bible instead of worshiping it, you’d know a little something about what Jesus said about rich people. Clue: it wasn’t nice.

    • But the Bible says a man should not lay with another man as he would with a woman. It would be an abomination. The Bible is the word of God. You may not agree but it is in the Bible. You may have different feelings but you can’t just pick and choose what you will or will not believe.

      • I wanted to take a moment and point out the problem with this post; you’re talking about “Picking and Choosing” but quoting a verse from Leviticus. This is likely very hypocritical since most of Leviticus is no longer followed.

        First off, being under the blood of Christ means we are no longer under the law. In Galatians Paul says we are no longer under the Law. Paul said Leviticus is the yoke of slavery, Galatians 5:1. Therefore, putting the laws over someone and telling them to follow them is the same as putting them under slavery. Paul urges us to walk in the Spirit, to be filled with the Spirit, to keep in step with the Spirit, and warns us against the bondage to the Law. We can’t live life in the Spirit if the Law has us in chains.
        But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law. (Galatians 5:18).

        Second, if you still want to follow that law, you’re going to have to follow archaic rules like Eating fat (3:17), Eating blood (3:17), Touching an unclean animal (5:2), (For Catholics) Drinking alcohol in holy places (10:9), Eating an animal which doesn’t both chew cud and has a divided hoof (11:4-7) (Sorry, no more ham or bacon!), Eating – or touching the carcass of – any seafood without fins or scales (11:10-12) (catfish, lobsters, crabs, shrimp, mussels, clams, oysters, squid, octopi, etc.), Going to church within 33 days after giving birth to a boy (12:4), Going to church within 66 days after giving birth to a girl (12:5), Having sex with a woman during her period (18:19, 20:18), Holding back the wages of an employee overnight (19:13) (not well observed these days), Perverting justice, showing partiality to either the poor or the rich (19:15), Spreading slander (19:16), Seeking revenge or bearing a grudge (19:18), Mixing fabrics in clothing (19:19) (Hope you’re wearing all 100% cotton!), Cross-breeding animals (19:19), Planting different seeds in the same field (19:19), Trimming your beard (19:27), Cutting your hair at the sides (19:27), Getting tattoos (19:28), Not standing in the presence of the elderly (19:32), Mistreating foreigners (19:33-34), Working on the Sabbath (23:3), Selling land permanently (25:23).

        And there is no Biblical foundation for “Ceremonial Law” and “Moral Law”. “For whoever keeps the whole Law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.” (James 2:10)

        I encourage you to read “The Great Debate” Side A and Side B Essays. https://www.gaychristian.net/greatdebate.php … It takes a very detailed look at what the Bible does and doesn’t say about homosexuality and homosexual marriage. It takes what it says and shows different ways that it can be interpreted, both for and against.

      • And you are picking and choosing what you want out of the Bible also. The word that comes up the most in the New Testament is Love. Love your neighbor as yourself and do not try to judge others on this world or you will be judged in the next. Think about it, Adolf Hitler picked and chose what he needed out of the Bible also.

      • Nowhere in the post does the author say anything that would even imply that he either agrees or disagrees with you. To bring that topic into a conversation which is not about it at all shows you missed the point of his post completely.

      • The Bible also COMMANDS you to stone to death your very own child for ‘irreverence’… you can do it yourself… OR call the police to do it….

        • But the Bible says a man should not lay with another man as he would with a woman. It would be an abomination. The Bible is the word of God. You may not agree but it is in the Bible. You may have different feelings but you can’t just pick and choose what you will […]

          The original Hebrew in that passage doesn’t say that at all. It’s been mistranslated for millennia to represent the prejudices of those who purposely mistranslate it.

          ***************************************************************************************

          Can you tell us what the original Hebrew says? I’m interested to know.

          Thanks

      • But we can choose! That’s the beautiful thing! You choose by choosing the Bible in its entirety and none of the Koran. And if that brings you closer to God, that’s amazing!

        My favorite line in this is whole thing was
        “I want you to know that there are still people who believe that the Bible is a tool to help us personally encounter God, not to publicly bulldoze those we disagree with or fear.”

        God gave us brains to use…I’ve used mine to seek out and question everything God put in my path, and have found that there is Truth in the Christianity talked about here.

      • But you do, Richard.

        Does your Christian household have ham at Easter? Have you ever had a pork chop? Shrimp cocktail? Crab cakes? Abominations, according to Leviticus.

        What are your clothes made of? Polyester and cotton? Wool and linen blend? Abomination.

        People freely ignore the Old Testament when it prohibits something they like, and you do not condemn them

        Divorce and remarriage while the former spouse lives is explicitly called adultery by Jesus in the Gospels. And that is a commandment-breaking offense. Yet plenty of self-professed Christians ignore that. And of course Jesus himself defies scripture when he prevents a mob from stoning an aldulterous woman to death.

        I think He would also stop a mob from lynching a black man, or beating a gay person. I think he commands us to do the same.

        Jesus was quite clear that we do choose how to interpret scripture. He was quite plain in telling us how: love God, fully and freely. And love your neighbor in the same way. Not when they behave as you think they should, but as they are. And if you think they are wrong, forgive them, and pray you may be forgiven for your flaws, too.

        And if the laws says, pay Casear his tax, you pay your taxes. And if the law says, gay folks can marry, you let gay folks marry. And you sell them wedding cakes from your bakery, and you offer the photographic skill of your studio, and the space in your rental facility, and you smile and say, “I hope you will be very happy.” Why? Because that is what you would want your wedding to be like.

        And that is what Jesus asks you to do.

      • Read the article. It never said anything about agreeing with homosexuality, it’s about respecting those that are, like Jesus did the prostitutes.

      • You also cannot cherry pick sin but you do cause when you compare yourself with “those” individuals it makes you feel a little bit less screwed up. When Christians start lining up the adulterer, the liar, the gossip, the person with lust in his heart and mind, the Christian who hates his neighbor, the drunkard and point their fingers at those sins, but Christians won’t because they commit those sins and they would have to point at themselves as they do at gay people. The real truth is that you are not disgusted by sin you are disgusted by homosexuals. Christ died for us when we are at our absolute ugliest state. We don’t understand the gospel and the gospel is this: “WE ARE MORE SINFUL AND FLAWED IN OURSELVES THAN WE EVER DARED BELIEVE, YET AT THE VERY SAME TIME WE ARE MORE LOVED AND ACCEPTED IN JESUS CHRIST THAN WE EVER DARED HOPE.” The sword is never ours to swing. Jesus said bottom line “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. Love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend the whole law and the prophets.” You also should be praying not judging and if you don’t pray, you probably do not care. If you do not care, then we do not love. If we do not love, then we are in direct opposition to God. In fact, we may not even love God. The reason many people reject Christianity is not because it is conservative, but because we as Christians, act and react in ways that are genuinely repulsive. Christians are so busy pointing fingers at each other but instead should occupy yourselves with the atrocities that are happening with the radical Muslims (ISIS) that are beheading our fellow Christians, raping mothers, sisters, wives and very young children who become their sex slaves. And oh, you should also be horrified that they are throwing homosexuals off of buildings to their death. There are 11 million men, women and children that are refugees fleeing for their lives and dying. Did you see the dead three year old child on the beach and then that same child being held by a Hungarian man? Tragic.

      • Richard, whether or not a gay couple can get legally married by the United States of America is not AT ALL dependent on what the Bible says. A marriage performed by the Christian church is called “Holy Matrimony” and the beliefs of the church can dictate whom may enter into it. But a marriage performed by the state is simply a legally binding union with the rights and responsibilities that have come to be associated with it over the years. This nation is not, and never should be, governed by the laws of any particular faith. If it were, no one would be able to get divorced except for in cases of adultery and then the woman would not be allowed to remarry (Matthew 5:32). Now, you may not agree with divorce, I certainly do not think that it should be the first avenue when troubles arise in a marriage, but I do not attempt to block the legal proceedings that allow it nor do I shame and persecute those people who choose to get divorced. The United States is a representative democracy, not a theocracy. If you want to argue against a gay couple gaining legal marriage in the U.S. you will have to argue from some other point than what the Bible says. If your church and your preacher want to perform a Holy Matrimony ceremony for a gay couple, by all means, use God’s word as a base for your argument against it. But the issue at hand is government-performed marriage where religion has NO PLACE to dictate who can enter into it.

      • That passage is in Leviticus (along with other passages about selling your daughters into slavery, not sitting on a chair of a woman who has had her period, not wearing polyester and other different fabrics, being stoned to death for working on the Sabbath.) It is part of the Old Covenant. When Jesus arrived, he was the NEW Covenant, basically (finding the easiest way to explain it) erasing the old. Jesus never said a single word about homosexuality. NOT ONE. I agree with you, you can’t just pick and choose. If you really know how the Bible works, you’d see that you either believe in homosexuality being wrong and people being stoned to death OR you believe in the New Covenant of Jesus and his loving ways.

      • Being a Christian means you are a follower of Christ. Not even once did Jesus say anything about homosexuality. Every Christian picks and chooses what parts of the bible they want to follow. So I’m assuming then you don’t eat bacon, do any kind of work on Saturday, or pray out loud. Those are all sins according to the bible. Maybe you should just read the whole thing from front to back. The bible promotes slavery, do you think it’s ok to have slaves? They say the best way to convert a Christian to an Athiest is to have them read the bible.

      • Leviticus 3:17 “you shall not eat any fat…”

        Leviticus 11:4 “…but divideth not the hoof; he is unclean unto you.” Pork is an abomination, venison is an abomination, Jello, hot dogs, bacon anything made with pork or pork derivatives is an abomination on the same level of being gay.

        Leviticus 10:6 “Uncover not your heads, neither rend your clothes; lest ye die, and lest wrath come upon all the people.” If you don’t wear a hat or cloak you will surely die, if you wear clothes with any rips in them you will surely die.

        Leviticus 10:9 “Do not drink wine nor strong drink, thou, nor thy sons with thee, when ye go into the tabernacle of the congregation, lest ye die.” Don’t drink wine in church or you will surely die.

        Leviticus 12:4–5 “And she shall then continue in the blood of her purifying three and thirty days; she shall touch no hallowed thing, nor come into the sanctuary, until the days of her purifying be fulfilled. But if she bear a maid child, then she shall be unclean two weeks, as in her separation: and she shall continue in the blood of her purifying threescore and six days.” Women who ovulate can’t enter the church for 33 days, nor receive any sacrament which she must touch. Women who give birth cannot do the same for 66 days.

        Leviticus 5:2 “If a soul touch any unclean thing, whether it be a carcase of an unclean beast, or a carcase of unclean cattle, or the carcase of unclean creeping things, and if it be hidden from him; he also shall be unclean, and guilty.” If you touch a dead animal you are guilty of sin and must perform a burnt offering to atone for your sin.

        Leviticus 19:19 “Thou shalt not sow thy field with mingled seed.” No vegetable gardens.

        Leviticus 19:27 “You shall not round off the side-growth of your heads nor harm the edges of your beard.” Don’t remove your sideburns or shave.

        Leviticus 19:19 “nor wear a garment upon you of two kinds of material mixed together.” burn anything in the house with a cotton and polyester blend.

        Why aren’t you pushing for legislation that stops vegetables gardens, surely that’s just as abominable in the eyes of the lord. Why aren’t you pushing for a ban on pig farming or deer hunting, that’s an abomination. Why don’t you throw women out of the church for being on their period?

        I’m going to tell you why, because you pick and choose, you don’t care about following the bible you care about using it to support your own hatred of others. Until I see a Christian who follows ALL of the laws I just quoted, you can go to hell; because if you believe the bible that’s exactly what you’re going to do because you just IGNORE all of the rest of the writing in the book except the parts that tell you how awful OTHER people are.

      • “The Bible is the word of God.”
        (1) Why do you believe that?
        (2) Now, with your “spread The Word” hat on: Why would I (or anyone) believe that?

      • The Bible also condones slavery and the subjugation of women many more times then it even mentions homosexuality. Yet I am guessing you are not for slavery or unequal treatment of women. So aren’t you picking and choosing what to believe. As a mater of fact, The Bible has many things we as a Society have deemed no longer appropriate. Its been a long time since we have stoned anyone has participated in a stoning for example. I am assuming you have also patronized businesses that are open on Sundays. So to say we can’t pick and choose is a pretty weak argument considering we have been doing exactly that as Christians for the entire history of the religion.

      • Do you wear mixed fabrics and eat shellfish? Do you give everything you have to the poor? The bible is not an IKEA manual. Reality shows that this verse does not give answers to homosexuals, it just opens the door for people to dehumanize us and tell us we’re not worthy of experiencing love. It is not an acceptable justification for the church’s treatment of gay people. If it holds true, what are we supposed to do? Involuntary celibacy? Absolutely not. I deserve to fall in love. Try to become heterosexual? The American Psychiatric Assocation has condemned that. What, then? What about throwing this verse at us is part of Christ’s imperative for us?

      • “For every one that curseth his father or his mother shall be surely put to death: he hath cursed his father or his mother; his blood shall be upon him.” (Leviticus 20:9)

        If every kid in America who cursed at his parents was killed, we’d have to worry about repopulating the country. Every day.

        So, really all you’ll have to do to silence any screaming protester outside an abortion clinic, military funeral, or even a family member that’s being a little too smug about their religious beliefs is ask them how their parents are doing.

        The context of this forgotten rule is all part of Christianity’s established hierarchy, which gives parents absolute power over their children, and all men power over women. So if you’re a father, you really have more power than pretty much everyone on earth except God.

        So do you agree that we should draw blood on all children who curse at their parents? The bible says so!! And the bible is the word of God, so you better start drawing blood!!

        Are you familiar at all with the new testament?

        The bible represents an evolution of faith and God’s revelations. It evolves over time and Jesus presents a much more evolved teaching than what was revealed to the people of the old testament.

        http://biblethumpingliberal.com/2011/05/19/you-can%E2%80%99t-quote-leviticus-to-prove-god-hates-homosexuality/

      • Check your Leviticus, mixed weave clothing is also forbidden, and yet I am sure you have worn poleyester blend before. You are using an obscure and.minor passage to dehumanise and persecute a large tract of the population.

      • Richard, you’ve probably heard the counter to your point – that the Bible says many other things that no modern Christian would follow. But I don’t think this is the point that John is making.

        What John’s words say to me, is that even if you know in your heart that a person is a sinner – even then – show them love anyway.

        In The Bible, Matthew says to judge not. We should leave judgement of sins to God, because he is more than capable of that task. If you believe homosexuality is sinful, okay … that’s between you and God, and you should follow that command yourself. If you believe eating pork or getting a tattoo is sinful, that’s between you and God, and you should follow that command yourself. Jesus doesn’t ask us to tell others that they are sinning. Jesus simply asks us to love. 🙂

      • The Old Testament holds forth many laws that most Christians these days don’t give heed to. Can anyone point to where Christ ever said anything about committed, monogamous same-sex love?

      • John’s article did not mention homosexuality–his detractor’s response did. There are plenty of things that are “in the Bible” that I wonder if you, yourself, truly “believe” and honor as law. And of the 613 laws in the Hebrew Scriptures (the Old Testament), how many of them do you subscribe to in your own home? Of the Ten, do you truly “keep Sabbath, for example, by doing NOTHING that causes another person (or animal) to have to work on that day? Run to the market? Buy gas on the way home from church? Go out for Sunday brunch? Attend sporting events, concerts, movies, or other entertainment venues for which you must pay on Sundays? Expect (or allow) your wife to cook, do laundry, clean house, or any other work on Sunday? Use the Internet? If not, and if yo0u and your wife and children and all of your employees have all day to spend resting from their labors, good for you. If not, join the rest of us who also “pick and choose.”

      • The Bible also says that you should not eat pork. And that you’re forbidden to charge interest when lending money. And that you should stone your rebellious son to death. Jesus, incidentally, also was a big believer in communal ownership. The truth is, every one, including born again and evangelical Christians, picks and chooses. There’s no real reason to think that the part against homosexuality is more important than the part about usury–people have decided that it’s more important because it suits their purposes.

      • Richard, I’d love to hear you explain how you’re not just picking and choosing what you will or will not believe. You’re pulling one verse out of multiple chapters of things God condemns or considers an abomination. What about all of those other verses? With all due respect, you’d be hard pressed to convince me that you grant them the same level of importance as the ONE verse you quoted.

  1. Hello my Name is Misty Maki. I am a Christian. I believe that God is LOVE because that is what 1John 4:16b tells me. I believe that if people want to see God they look to Jesus. If they want to see Jesus they look to his followers. 1John 4:12. I believe that we are not to only love by our words but by actions 1 John 3:18. I believe in talking and acting on what I am FOR verses what I am against. I am for LOVE. I am for TRUTH. I am for VICTORY. I am for FORGIVENESS, because even when we try our hardest at some point we will fail. I am for listening and trying to understand. I am for peoples stories. I am for the lonely, the lost, the forgotten. I am for the least of these. Because a time not so long ago I was there. Lost, forgotten, lonely. Wallowing in my failure. Believing that I was not worthy of any love. I was ripped up out of that pit and stand on a rock now, Psalm 40:2. He says that I am loved. I am not forgotten. I am forgiven. Because of that I will LOVE.

    Thank you, John, for Bold Beautiful Love

  2. Thank you, John, for your bold, beautiful words. They encourage me to be brave too.

    Hello my Name is Misty Maki. I am a Christian. I believe that God is LOVE because that is what 1John 4:16b tells me. I believe that if people want to see God they look to Jesus. If they want to see Jesus they look to his followers. 1John 4:12. I believe that we are not to only love by our words but by actions 1 John 3:18. I believe in talking and acting on what I am FOR verses what I am against. I am for LOVE. I am for TRUTH. I am for VICTORY. I am for FORGIVENESS, because even when we try our hardest at some point we will fail. I am for listening and trying to understand. I am for peoples stories. I am for the lonely, the lost, the forgotten. I am for the least of these. Because a time not so long ago I was there. Lost, forgotten, lonely. Wallowing in my failure. Believing that I was not worthy of any love. I was ripped up out of that pit and stand on a rock now, Psalm 40:2. He says that I am loved. I am not forgotten. I am forgiven. Because of that I will LOVE.

    • Me too. Two suicide attempts … after that 12 years of heroin to dull the pain. I wish I’d known there was a group of decent Christians out there before I completely lost my faith.

  3. Amen. I pray the Lord continues to refresh your spirit with His as you speak the His truth – THE truth. You inspire me – I so so so register with the silent, complacent, fearful at times Christian. The love of Christ is in your words – I hope you know and accept that. I can sense you love Him, but more – I can sense His love in your words.

  4. The Jesus who overthrew tables, called pharisees whitewashed tombs and demanded that the woman caught in adultery go and sin sexually no more, is just as loving as when He did everything else you mentioned.

    But when you pick and choose which Jesus you want to follow, not the Jesus revealed in scripture, then it isn’t Jesus you are following my friend, but your version of Jesus, which means you are really just worshiping yourself.

    http://adam4d.com/old-testament-god/

      • Johnandpav, as beautifully written as your piece is, you have left the impression that you support same-sex “marriage” and fail to support Kim Davis for standing by her faith no matter the cost. It is picking and choosing to pretend that scripture, specifically Jesus’ words support same-sex “marriage”. He speaks only of one man and one woman. I don’t have time to gather His words right now, but at least read this…. Matthew 19:4 “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,”

        • Kim Davis needed to get a new job. It was a job, she can go work for a Christian company but as a government employee, she is bound.

      • I like the sentiiment of what you are saying, that we should be accepting of all people as Christians, but we must also teach them God’s truth found only in the bible.
        Everything you mentioned is in scripture, but you give it an idealistic childish point of view, which ignores all of the truth of the bible. I like that approach with those that don’t know the bible, but Christians are at some point to grow in wisdom through study and learn how to present the entire truth of the bible with true love. The danger with that childish approach is that it denies much of the rest of the character that is Jesus that all Christians should follow and make their own no matter what others think of them. It simply gives the appearance that you would prefer the wisdom of the world to the wisdom of God, which isn’t wisdom at all. The world wants to give a new false definition of love that means you must accept everything someone does or you’re being hateful. I hope that I have misread your message and that is not the case for you. God’s love for us requires that we live in every way to the best of our ability according to His will (Matt 22:37). This is the greatest command that so many want to ignore, many that call themselves “Christian”. We must keep God’s commands to express true love for Him (John 15:7-10). Most people want to simply concentrate on the 2nd greatest command to love others and ignore true love for God. To emulate God and Jesus’ love for us we must accept all with love and openness but we must also teach them how to love God so that they can be pleasing to Him and know Him, otherwise Jesus will deny that He knew them (Matt 7:21-23). How can that be described as love if what we tell lost sinners ensures that they are lost in a false hope that gives no hope at all? The reality is, if we do so, we are working against God, not for Him.

      • That Jesus loved them yes but did not celebrate those sinful acts. Love them absolutely but you shouldn’t support them in what they do. That was not what Jesus came and spilt his blood for. The bible is clear on right and wrong and we as Christian’s constantly try to justify what we do. It’s sin and when you look at sin as sin, not as a judge but as a Christian your job is to get out there and yes love those people but that doesn’t mean supporting what they do.

      • …because it seems that that is what you’re doing in this post. It would be much easier to be a Christian, if we only followed the parts that made us feel happy and comfortable. The fact is, being a Christian is NOT easy and Jesus never said it would be. We ARE called to love, but we are also called to stand for the truth of God’s word…not just the easy parts.

    • The Jesus who overthrew tables was enacting a prophetic statement in the pattern of the great prophets of the Old Testament, protesting a religious power system that oppressed the poor and created a barrier between them and God. It was not violence to harm people. In John’s Gospel this is clearly recognized as a prophetic act by his opponents: “So the Jews said to him, ‘What sign do you show us for doing these things?’” (John 2:18)

      The Jesus who called some Pharisees whitewashed tombs did so in reaction to their insistence on outward appearance of goodness according to their cultural morality standards, while ignoring the pain and harm caused to those around them.

      The Jesus who spoke gently to the woman caught in adultery reassured her that God never holds anything against us, and he challenged her accusers to do the same against their Law that said she should die. This story was protested in the early centuries of the church because it was too forgiving of adultery, not because it legitimized judging others. Of course we don’t want people to continue in life-damaging and relationship-breaking actions like adultery if we love them, for their sake not God’s, but it’s not our place to accuse or punish. This story shows Jesus taking that assumed right away from the self-righteous troublemakers.

      Jesus is the Image and Word of God, not the Bible. Jesus forced his early followers to re-interpret the Old Testament in light of his revelation of God.

      • Thank you. The word of God through Jesus Christ. A problem I see here in some of this debate, kind of like Kim Jenkins being cheered for persecuting someone when she clearly is no ones ultimate judge. Is she the face of a new crusade in the name of Christianity? Should everyone be subjected to countless misinterpretations because at the time it feels right? If it’s not out of love it’s not right, by loving yes you are offering support but that is the extent to what anyone should be doing, not just Christians. I’m glad I live in a country where I can love who I want FREELY including being able to develop my relationship with Jesus FREELY. Pray for those you worry about talk to God about it

    • Jesus reveals himself in love not hate. He told everyone to go forth and sin no more! You with no sin, cast the first stone! It appears you are still holding on to your stone sir…

    • My thoughts exactly Jojo. That’s the problem with the hyper grace moment. It picks all the warm and fuzzy Jesus moments and leaves out all the moments when he drew lines, said it like it was, called sin, sin, and defined what is good and right from what is unrighteous and wrong (well except for when it suits them to point out “legalism” in the church). I thought of one you didn’t mention when I was reading through this post:
      Quoting John, “The one who lived in homeless humility, living off the generosity of those whose thankful hearts gave a home to his words.”
      But, this same Jesus told his disciples to shake the dust of a whole town off their feet if His “words” weren’t welcomed with “thankful hearts”. This same Jesus tells us repeatedly that individual hearts that don’t recieve Him with thankfulness are bound for eternal hell fire, and that, while he doesn’t want that for anyone, he knows the road is narrow and few will travel it, and that his return, to judge the quick and the dead, is imminent. That’s the Jesus- and the kind of people he told his followers to be- that the hyper grace movement can’t wrap it’s head around so, they just leave that Jesus out.
      You were spot on in your analysis

    • Adam I agree. We are constantly allowing our human mind influence how we perceive Jesus. Sin was never accepted in a so called loving endorsing way. It was confronted in truth for what it was. To come to Jesus as a child means you cast away as mush as possible what the world has taught you. True knowledge comes from the Holy Spirit and is in complete agreement with the Word. God is the same forever, He is pure truth, so when someone rationalizes scripture to fit the worlds ideas it is a lie. The word love is used all the time to inspire guilt, manipulate, and change something for selfish human needs. It is not the love of God they use, it is the love of self and deception. Many years ago a pastor made a statement ” Love them into hell ” He was referring to not offending people. Truth is hard and it hurts when your deceived.

    • You don’t know how right you are. God is not real- it’s an imaginary friend for those who still need one. You feel ‘connected’ to god at a deep level when you ‘pray’ because you’re actually addressing your subconscious mind. That’s why you feel whole and complete.. because you ARE whole and complete while praying (meditating) …. you are connecting with your WHOLE MIND. Welcome to god Jojo.

    • When you comment on a post with generalities (“But when you pick and choose which Jesus you want to follow, not the Jesus revealed in scripture, then it isn’t Jesus you are following my friend…) you simply come off as judgmental and not helpful. If you take the time – as you have – to engage someone online, IMO you should respond to specifics if you actually want to help them and not indict them.

  5. “I want you to know that there are still people who believe that the Bible is a tool to help us personally encounter God, not to publicly bulldoze those we disagree with or fear.”
    Thank you for this wonderful statement. It expresses the beliefs of MANY Christians who each speak up in our small part of the world. Bless you for getting this message out to a larger audience. May your ministry keep growing.

  6. Don’t forget to include that this is the Jesus who died that we might live. The Jesus who bore all our sins on his body on the cross. The Jesus who calls us to live holy lives. The Jesus who prays for us that as we go out into the world, that we are protected from the evil one. The Jesus who defeated death. The Jesus who opened the door that we might have access to the Father. The Jesus in whose name alone is salvation. He is not just a feel-good Jesus — He is the only way of salvation.

    • I know that for many people this Jesus brings comfort – however – it is ***precisely*** with this Jesus that abusive Christianity begins. In my experience, the more emphasis a Christian places on salvation the more likely they are to treat me hellaciously (because that’s where they think I’m going). Further, the message that I am so vile by default that I’m going to hell was so deeply ingrained in me that it has taken me decades to recover from the self-loathing it created. Factor in the heightened vitriol because of my orientation and you now have a pretty good idea of why I’ve since become atheist.

      • I’m sorry you got the message of you being vile Brian. Fortunately for me I got the message of being valued. I fully accept that I am flawed even something worse than that but I also am valued. So it is in His sacrifice for me that I understand the deep love He has for me and His desire for me to live in freedom. I do choose chains but even then His love pours out to me. I am thankful that the ‘vileness’ I am capable of is covered in His genuine love for me. I hope that you discover one day the real Jesus and love of Him and His Father for you. I pray that whatever wounds you have from those experiences you had will be healed. May the God you do not know or believe in reveal His love to you. Blessings Brian.

    • For you. He is the only way of Salvation for you because that is how you have chosen to interpret Scripture. It’s when you decide that what you believe MUST BE true for every other human being on earth that we get in trouble with shaming and throwing stones despite giant logs sticking out of our eyes. Focus on love and you can never go wrong.

  7. Personally, I am a Unitarian Universalist who comes from a Conservative Jewish background. I’m a grandmother of 5, mother and stepmother of 4. I was married to a man for 23 years. I am recently married to my wife of 20 years. I’ve been the target of Christian prejudice many times throughout my life. I haven’t been permitted to be a full member of society until very recently because I am different from the privileged ones who are straight Protestant Christians. It’s a real problem in our supposedly free, democratic country that should support separation of church and state.

    I think that those of you who identify as “Christians who choose to follow the example of Jesus” should change your name to something else so you can stand apart from those who are “Christians who are required to follow church dogma.” It’s the dogmatic Bible fundamentalists who give Christianity a bad name. The compilation of the New Testament was highly politically influenced. Lots was left out that did not serve those in power at the time. It’s not realistic to assume that one text contains all spiritual knowledge and guidance for all time. Where did that irrational belief come from anyway? I see that as the core of the problem we are faced with today.

    What about adopting the name Gnostic? What does Gnosticism mean? Plain and simple…it means rebelling against and breaking free of the conformity set forth to us by religious dogma. That same Dogma that, for centuries, has instilled unbelievable fear and guilt upon the masses. It means dispelling all the fear based untruths about God and our eternal Souls by bringing reasoning and intelligence into the equation (see
    http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Gnostic) for more info on this term. Any discussion here is welcome!

    • I believe much the same as you. I’ve studied religious theology from a historical and cultural point of view.

      There where many different sects of Christianity before Constantine had the new testament canonized. Gnostic and Aquarian just to name a few. Those along with other gospels deemed inadequate for one reason or another were left out.
      Few people realize that Christmas is a title, not a name. It means pure in love. They also fail to realize Jesus was not a Christian….he was jewish.
      A good read is “The Aquarian Gospel of Jesus the Christ”.

      • Kimi, Christ was not a Christian, just as Darwin was not a Darwinian. The term came about to describe his FOLLOWERS. Christmas, literally means “Christ birth” There were many Christian churches in the early years. They were growing a new movement. The letters that eventually became parts of the New Testament were an attempt to unify these groups in thought and practice. You must not have studied very much!

    • Joanne, please provide examples of ancient documents that illustrate your statement, “The compilation of the New Testament was highly politically influenced. Lots was left out that did not serve those in power at the time.”. I have examine half a dozen or so of such documents and found them useless — not at all on the same level of quality or credibility as the books of the New Testament. You are correct that it is “not realistic to ASSUME that one text contains all spiritual knowledge and guidance for all time.” (Emphasis mine.) Valid trust in the authority and completeness of the Bible is rooted both in scholarly authentication of the text and in real-life encounters with the Almighty, after which the authority and completeness become apparent.

    • There are parts if the word “Gnosticism” from early Christianity that just simply do not work with the typical progressive/Jesus-focused Christians. The biggest of which would be believing the material world and the body is bad, I think all of us in this category would disagree. Also that Jesus was fully divine rather than both divine and human, and that when he died on the cross he simply left the world rather than transcending sin. I feel like most of us would not be happy with the label Gnosticism.

      Furthermore, I feel in that since in Christianity we must strive to love all and overcome bounds. Therefore, I don’t believe separating ourselves from the other Christians we don’t agree with, or dropping the name Christian because it’s become a charged word is necessarily the right thing to do.

    • I am Eastern Orthodox, the oldest denomination on the planet. I have been Orthodox for over 10 years. I studied scripture for 20 years, trying to find the Truth. I went from church to churh for awhile, wanting it to reflect Jesus in all ways.

      I left the church for about 3 or 4 years and studied Orthodox Judaism becuase I wanted to know where the continuity between Judaism and Christianity was.. I considered beeing a Noachide, but when I thought about it, and decided I still believed in Jesus. Finally, I visited the Orthodox Church, and I was home in every way. My study of Orthodox Judaism, befriending and visiting Orthodox Jews on
      Shabbot, observing some Orthodox Jewish holiddays showed me the humility and dedication of love they have for one another AND for a new visitor and friend like me. When I visited the Eastern Orthodox Christian church I was astounded to see that they have retained this exact same humility and hospitality toward others, revealing the amazing continuity between the two religions. I knew I had found what I had been looking for for so long. In the 10 years I’ve been there I have NEVER ONCE heard anyone gossip. Because we fast so frequently throughout the year, and different people have individual dispensations for how they fast, we have a saying: “Keep your eyes on your own plate”. And believe me, we do. When I go to confession (which is not like Catholic confession, in case you have a preconceived idea of what it is) after a long time away, the priest pulls up a chair and we just talk. No judgement. No brow beating, no scripture quoting. Just a nice conversation. Sometimes that serves as confession, other times we are more formal. If I’m struggling with something in particular, the priest wil encourage me read something he recommends, or read a variety of prayers that might be helpful.

      The Orthodox Church holds to the first 8 Ecumenical Counsils, and the Nicene Creed. We have 2000 years of Tradition that was handed down orally before it was written. Some of it predates some of the books in the Bible. Taken together, it allows us to read the Bible in the context of when it was written, and then apply it to our lives.

      I can’t say that same sex marriage is approved of. But we all fall short in some way, and there is no judgment. Only quiet and peaceful reconcilaition, prayer,and forgiveness.

      • I should reword that last paragraph. “approved of” is kind of one sided. And I dont mean that being homosexual is “falling short”. My point is that we who fall short ourselves, should not be *judging* anyone else, especially if that person does not identify as a Christian.

  8. Now you are getting around to my position. I too have been a Christian all my life but, starting around the age of nine, I began to question the Bible; driving my Sunday school teacher out of the room to get answers to my many questions. During the churches 125 year reunion, that same teacher got up in front of the packed church and asked, “Is Terry here?” and then she went on to tell them about what I used to do as a boy.

    It has only been within the past one hundred years that the average Christian could read the Bible within the confines of their home and comprehend its meaning. Prior to that, Christians were told what the Bible meant by the authoritarian priestly class. In other words, Christianity was a top to bottom religion but with education that has changed. Many Christians today have left the church because of the many incongruent messages within the Bible, especially between the Old Testament and the New Testament. Not only that but the New Testament is not Jesus speaking, it is about Jesus and that needs to change. We need to take our focus away from Paul and follow Christ and for the Christian faith to survive, faith needs to grow from the bottom up, not from the top down; we need to walk the talk.

    To that end I suggest that you read the Urantia Book. It is not, and I repeat NOT, a religion and readers are explicitly told by the spiritual beings who presented this Fifth Epochal to us not to turn it into a religion. It is intended instead as an uplifting of all the major religions and yes it includes the (entire) life of Jesus. The book is broken into four parts: The Central and Superuniverses – The Local Universe – The History of Urantia – The Life and Teachings of Jesus. Only ten percent of the book is new information; Ninety percent is information we know or information lost from what was known in the past.

    God bless each and every one of you and let’s begin the journey of walking the talk so we can rule by example. Secularism is not the path to God but we can’t go back to a totalitarian either. We need to lead by example.

  9. Thank you, John, for the beautiful reminder of what our faith is all about – that Jesus which you portrait, interestingly, as the Jesus of your childhood innocence. Faith like a child is what He encouraged us to have. The simplicity, the purity, the joy of it! So refreshing!

  10. i too am conflicted by Kentucky and by some strident “Christisn” voices. I do believe that as a nation supposedly founded on Judea-Christian principles, we are departing from those principles as fast as the current government can take us.

    Kim Davis should abide by the law. She also has the right to profess her faith. The approval of same sex marriage is wrong based on Biblical teachings that marriage is to be between a man and a woman. No law of man can change that.

    Many elected officials are choosing not to obey laws based on their political beliefs, but they do not go to jail, ie sanctuary cities.

    To paraphrase a quote, when only some laws are enforced, no law really exists.

    We need laws that are determined by all citizens, not a few. We revolted against King George and oppressive government.
    The current government has become oppressive in its own way. Something needs to happen to change that.

    My plan is to vote for those who support freedom and justice.

    • that same section of the bible also forbids mixing fibers in clothing, eating shellfish, divorce (which she has done 3 times) and doing anything on the sabbath while also laying out specific rules for buying and keeping slaves. it is always the same with you religious types; you cherry pick what you want out of your ‘holy’ scriptures to fit your personal beliefs.

    • The Constitution is not based on Judeo-Christian values. There were a lot of Christians involved in starting our government, but they made sure that the Government could in no way control religion nor religion control the government.

  11. I came across your post in my Facebook newsfeed. Thank you for sharing this, for speaking up with so much hope and conviction. I am not Christian. I haven’t been one since childhood, but I do still remember and adore the Jesus you describe here. I’m blessed to know several Christians who share this viewpoint and do Jesus and his message the honor it deserves.

    I’m also burdened to know far more people who miss the mark and focus more on the idea of Jesus taught to them by others who don’t really understand than his actual teachings and example.

    I will be sharing this to give hope and encouragement to my friends who also feel this way, and to help show those who don’t see Christianity as you so excellently portray it to understand that it’s not what is being shoved down our throats by people who can’t stomach Jesus’s real message of love, but THIS.

    May you walk in blessings.

    -Serpent

  12. Thank you for this. I moved to Kentucky in 2013. I no longer go to church because of all the stuff that’s happening in the news. I think I’m a Christian but because I have not found a church in Kentucky that’s been able to separate from politics. Please pray for me. Date: Thu, 10 Sep 2015 14:08:02 +0000 To: cpaslick@hotmail.com

    • Rather, how do YOU justify circumventing scripture in order to espouse a doctrine of any sort of exclusion? Just curious… since that’s what seems to be what’s really contrary to scripture.

  13. I have a question really quick. As A Christian, you say you mis the Jesus and the faith of your youth. The Bible stories and the like. However this same Jesus, said of himself, that he did not come to abolish the law but rather to fulfill it. How than can we as believers either circumvent, or circumnavigate our way around scriptures we find to not be congruent with our beliefs of total inclusion? Also does Jesus’ attitude towards the syrophonician woman give us any clues towards his attitude of inclusion Vs exclusion in your mind?

      • How do you than Justify, that he says that he didd not come to abolish the law but rather to fulfill it. Also Paul places homosexuality in his list of fruits of the flesh…otherwise known as sin. If you are going to just unequivocally accept the lgbt movement, how do you just disregard that.

    • Jesus did fulfill the law. It has already been done—and that act of fulfillment abolished the law. Gentiles were never under the law and are not today. The Old Testament law was given to the ancient Jews—and the old covenant was with them and them alone.

  14. My Scottish grandfather broke with the church as soon as he was old enough to defy his family. He always claimed that he was a better Christian than they were because of what he did rather than what he said. I broke with the church when I was 11, but I feel the same as my grandfather.

    I was so struck by this quote from Senator Corey Booker of New Jersey that i now share it at every possible opportunity: “Before you speak to me about your religion, first show it to me in how you treat other people; before you tell me how much you love your God, show me in how much you love all His children; before you preach to me of your passion for your faith, teach me about it through your compassion for your neighbors. In the end, I’m not as interested in what you have to tell or sell as in how you choose to live and give.”
    Yes, John, I think you are a true Christian in the sense that you have taken the best of Jesus’ teachings and used those as the foundation of your life. I sincerely admire your writing and desire to do good. But what I said above makes me wonder if Jesus is really necessary. You start by saying that you are having a hard time lately saying that you are a Christian. Is there just some remote, outside, unlikely chance that this has to do with the fact that you take the “5th hand accounts of fairy tales told by goat herders in the Bronze Age” as gospel?
    Have you really thought about why the church is receiving criticism? What, after all these years, are people objecting to? I could tell you, but maybe you should get to that point on your own.

  15. Well said! We are to reach out to the lost with love and humility, to love the sinner as we love ourselves, also sinners, even if we don’t agree with their lifestyle. We are to lead by example as Jesus did.

  16. Der John,

    I love your blog and have been following it for sometime. I am a Christian in Kentucky, so imagine how I feel? Not only does the world lump Christians, but it lumps Kentuckians.

    Kim Davis and Huckabee are “doers” for God. They think they have to stand up for Him, and for His laws or they are letting Him down. And this trumps love for them. They don’t understand how Jesus came to abolish the law. They don’t understand what Jesus has done under the New Covenant.

    For me it is a matter of totally getting that we live under grace. Grace is all about what He does, not what I do. You said a few things that I would give a gentle tweak. You said that you were inspired about what Jesus did, and how he behaved. I don’t think that is enough to rest in someone who simply inspires you. But I can rest in someone who is alive and who literally exchanged His life for mine. “It is no longer I who live, but Christ whole who lives in me….” And you went on to say that this is the Jesus you cling desperately to. I would challenge you to turn this all around and see the truth that He holds on to you. This is very different. He makes all the moves, He is the air I breathe, and He will use me for His own wonderful, loving purposes. When I try to love, I can’t. When I try to do the right thing, I can’t. But when I see that He does the right thing through me, and leads me in righteousness, as it says in Titus 2:11-12 – that it is always His grace that leads us in righteousness and everything else. This sure takes away any hint of being self-righteous.

    Love you, Nancy Wentzel

    Sep 10, 2015,

    • Beautiful, Nancy! I really only just discovered the New Covenant message of grace in the last year, after spending my whole life under the burden of law. Andrew Farley books and sermons have been a tool to open my eyes to what I was blinded to.

  17. “I need you to know that Mike Huckabee and Kim Davis and FoxNews and Donald Trump do not speak for us or for the Christianity we have devoted our lives to.”

    say who? who are you to claim who speaks and who does not speak for me? no shock that the only people you list are conservatives…never mind the ‘progressives’ who butcher kids under the guise of choice. you may wish to re-think you article as it is woefully one sided

    • The Internet is the great equalizer. There are plenty of websites that are excruciatingly conservative in their biblical views. This one is progressive. You can come here to ponder another point of view. John is under no obligation to present any other views than his own.

  18. I agree with you. Christians like us need to speak up and show what we are fighting for. However, it is our jobs as Christians to correct and rebuke those who do not live according to Gods word but it must be in love or it will only slander our cause. I wish you would have hit on that more in this article because we must represent God and his commands or we aren’t living for our purpose. The people you mentioned and the issues brought up at the beginning of this article make you seem like you don’t support the ultimate cause of these issues. Yes, a lot of those people haven’t handled things the best way… So now it’s our turn!

    • So, tell me, when does Jesus say we need to rebuke people? Who did Jesus rebuke? I’ll give you a hint; it was only one group of hypocritical people.

    • No, it’s not our job to “correct and rebuke those who do not live according to Gods word.” That is what the people who were going to stone the adulteress were doing. Only after sending EVERYONE away did Jesus (i.e., God!) speak with the woman personally about her life. He still does that today and he doesn’t need our help. What he needs us to do is love, love, love. It’s much harder to simply love others than to constantly tell them how they are sinning.

    • “It is our job as Christians to correct and rebuke those who do not live according to God’s word.” Hmm. Really? What does the Bible say about that?

      “What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside” (1 Corinthians 5:12-13, NIV). I believe the main reason that Christianity in the US has earned the disgust of so many people is because Christians disobey this Scripture, judging those who are outside the church. If we expect non-Christians to act like Christians and condemn them for not doing so, they have every right to take offense. And, based on what Paul is saying here, when we do that, we are ourselves not acting like Christians.

      • THANK YOU!!!! This is the crux of the entire problem of Kim Davis. You are the only other person, besides people in my own church, who understand the purpose of :judging” in terms of Eternal life. We are ONLY supposed to judge those WITHIN the church! Those outside of the church will be judged by God.

        When it comes to judging our children and their behavior (as they are growing up, not when they are adults), we are obliged to do that. ( “Train up a child”). If they remain in the church, we can “rebuke” them. If they leave the church, it is betwen them and God.

        If Kim Davis is judging homosexual people that are outside the church, that is wrong. People forget that we ALL sin in some way. We ALL fall shor of the glory of God.

        If Kim Davis was refusing to issue licenses because she felt that God’s law superceded man’s law, then she has an obligation not to give the licenses. But it never needed to go this far. The office that she works in, could and should have accomadated her religious beliefs so as not to discriminate against HER. They offered to have her staff do the licenses. It was THEN that she pushed her reilgious beliefs onto others, namely her staff, who may or may not have shared her beliefs. She insisted that THEY could not give out licenses either. This is where she is wrong, and this is the reason she should have been sent to jail.

      • I should add, that if her staff was inside the church, I suppose she could have told them not to issue the licenses, but it still remains their decision on what they do.

  19. “I really miss my Kid Christianity”. Maybe that’s just it. Maybe Christianity IS just for kids and that a normal part of human development is to leave behind the stories and coping strategies of childhood. Maybe Christianity, if we are honest now, just simply doesn’t translate into 21st Century well-adjusted adult life?

  20. Thank you, John. I’ve been feeling the same way for a long time. It’s hard to make people listen when they don’t want to. Sometimes, I feel so tired of trying that I start to go quiet, and I stop trying to bring attention myself or to what I’m trying to say. Sometimes, I feel my strength waning, and I am glad you have the strength to show people the truth of Jesus’ teachings.

  21. I used to be a Christian. The horrible way I’ve been treated by “Christians” — from the pastor at my church to the pathetic excuses for human beings that call themselves Republicans — forced me to reevaluate my faith. I came to the realization that God is nothing more than Santa Claus for adults who are afraid of growing up. God was invented by humans to help them deal with the fear of death. In a way, I’m glad I was forced to closely examine my faith, because it has led me to the truth. It’s too bad it took years of emotional torture to get there.

  22. Yeah, well, then you and all those “compassionate” “millions” need to 1. speak up and be heard, 2. stop voting for these egregious monsters, 3. stop funding egregious monsters, 4. stop promoting egregiously monstrous legislation, and 5. rein in the monstrous yahoos. These folks aren’t able to do what they do by themselves, you know. No one who is truly following the precepts of historical Jesus should ever have to mention it–we’d be able to see it for ourselves. If you have to say you are a “Christian,” are you?

    • “reining in those ‘monstrous yahoos'” is not something people in any subculture are necessarily able to do, nor is it their responsibility. Are peaceable Muslims supposed to rein in the radical Islamic terrorists? Are Americans as a nation supposed to rein in people like Trump who spread hate and claim to do so in the name of America? There are always going to be people who smear the reputation of a subculture to which they claim to belong, but that doesn’t make it the job of the others to silence them. The job of the others is to continue embodying the true nature of the doctrine by which they live and hope that other people aren’t too hypocritically prejudiced to see that not all “Christians” or “Muslims” or “Americans” etc. are the same.

  23. Thank you so much John for putting in to words what I have been thinking and feeling. I have over 1,000 likes for a post I put up in response to Ms. Davis and along with the likes came the accusations and denigration of my faith and person by fellow “Christians”. I believe with all my heart that religion must be separate from the government in order to make a fair and just government for ALL people. I understand that there are Christian values that may contradict what is handed down in the courts, but it is not our place to decide what laws we will and will not obey. God has stated that any government in power and laws they create are endowed with those powers by him. Therefore the laws of the land are his laws. His power is great and if he did not want these laws to exist they would not. If he did not want us to have to work through this trial of homosexual equality and marriage there would be no question about it, no fight for equality and no laws created to give them equality and marriage. It is not our place as Christians to question this, but to obey the law. If you feel you need to protest, by all means do so, but do it so that it does not impede or force your values upon others that do not have your belief.
    If I worked a government job that ordered me to do something against my moral conscience and harm others I would quit my job. When I was in the military I went through in my mind what I would do if I went to battle, what would I do or not do? What orders could I follow and what orders could I not follow? I reenlisted knowing each time that I would follow my orders unless there was a truly immoral and there are allowances for that to disobey an unlawful order.

    • Sorry, that reply may not have been very coherent. Kind of tired tonight. Love, compassion, tolerance towards our fellow man. Our faith and ability to show and pass on our faith will come through our witness with how we speak and how we act. A gentle touch for someone broken, a hand up for someone down trodden. Compassion not judgement. What a wonderful world that would be if we could just accept there are differences and those who do not believe as we do, even within our own faith and what matters most is the love of Christ that shines through us to hopefully shine within others.

      • Pavanneh, I agree that the Church doesn’t need to be involved directly in government affairs, however, as Christians we are not to adhere to laws that are contrary to the Bible. Acts 5:29 ,”But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men. ” Jesus didn’t just quietly disagree with sin, he verbally opposed it. You say you would quit a government job if you were ordered to do something that harmed someone, good, Kim Davis was arrested for something that went hand in hand with damning people (Corinthians 6:9-10). It is not noble to be “peaceful” in this circumstance, as to not impede or force values on others…..

  24. …And if I can change the offensive message that is at the core of biblical Christianity, then by-golly all the world will like me and accept me just like they loved and welcomed Jesus…and Stephen, James, Paul and the other Apostles and faithful Christ-followers of the New Testament. SMH

      • Oh gee, I don’t know…maybe the Gospel? You know the one that originated with Jesus being rejected and crucified by this world. The message that got Him abandoned by the free fish-sandwich multitudes in John 6 after He spoke of the true nature of His mission. Maybe the same message that because the world hated Him, it would hate us, His followers as well in John 15. The message that got Stephen stoned, James beheaded, the Apostles arrested and eventually martyred, Paul stoned and left for dead, imprisoned, beaten, and eventually beheaded… The same message that is a stumbling-block to the Jews and foolishness to the Greeks. The Message that tells us that we are all sinners separated from a Holy God. That in spite of our sin, God loves us and gave His Son to die on the Cross in our place to pay for our sins. That this Jesus bodily rose from the dead and ascended to Heaven. That this Jesus is returning one day to receive His own and to bring fiery judgement upon the unregenerate world and usher in a perfect one. The same message that says that in order to be forgiven on one’s sins, we must first admit that it is, in fact, sin. Offended? 🙂

      • The “offensive message” to many is that no one gets to the Father except through Jesus, not Mohammad, or Buddha, or extra terrestrials or whatever “feels” right. It’s offensive to many when clear defined sin is labeled wrong.

        You’re ok, I’m ok, God will love you no matter what. God won’t judge you–not really, not like the “hell” preachers say. This is the message everyone wants to hear. That’s the tolerance they want. Give them that and yeah, they will love you.

        The reality is, there’s two sides to God: 1) Love/Grace for truly repentant and born-again believers and 2) Wrath and damnation for those who refuse. Everyone wants to #1 and pretends like #2 doesn’t exist or only happens to “bad” people. But we’re all bad people and the difference between #1 and #2 is something this world doesn’t want to hear.

    • If you read the Gospels you’ll see that the offensive message that had Jesus killed was infinite compassion. I don’t think that John wrote this to be liked by others. You’ve really missed the whole point here. He’s not just talking to non-Christians. He’s also talking to Christians, most of whom he implies are bent on hate and malice, and he challenges them to change and imitate the all-compassionate Christ in scripture. As you can see in the comments, they don’t take this very well. Just like the ancient Jews of Jesus’ time they want a warrior Messiah who will vanquish their enemies. But this isn’t who Jesus was. He told them to love their enemies, to practice compassion, and to end violence. People have always hated this message “Christians” and non-“Christians” alike. So no, this has nothing to do with gaining popularity.

  25. Now one of the Pharisees was requesting Him to [a]dine with him, and He entered the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. And there was a woman in the city who was a [b]sinner; and when she learned that He was reclining at the table in the Pharisee’s house, she brought an alabaster vial of perfume, and standing behind Him at His feet, weeping, she began to wet His feet with her tears, and kept wiping them with the hair of her head, and kissing His feet and anointing them with the perfume. Now when the Pharisee who had invited Him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet He would know who and what sort of person this woman is who is touching Him, that she is a [c]sinner.”
    And Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” And he [d]replied, “Say it, Teacher.” “A moneylender had two debtors: one owed five hundred [e]denarii, and the other fifty. When they were unable to repay, he graciously forgave them both. So which of them will love him more?” Simon answered and said, “I suppose the one whom he forgave more.” And He said to him, “You have judged correctly.” Turning toward the woman, He said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave Me no water for My feet, but she has wet My feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You gave Me no kiss; but she, since the time I came in, has not ceased to kiss My feet. You did not anoint My head with oil, but she anointed My feet with perfume. For this reason I say to you, her sins, which are many, have been forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little.” Then He said to her, “Your sins have been forgiven.” Those who were reclining at the table with Him began to say [f]to themselves, “Who is this man who even forgives sins?” And He said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

    Luke 7:36-50 New American Standard Bible

    Yes.

  26. Tears are running down my cheeks. God bless and keep you. I would really love a copy of your declaration. Being a Christian is a verb. As Christians we are called to act. We are called to lift up, to love,and to accept.
    I am a Christian; hurt by my brothers and sisters,an outcast but I love the Lord and I know he loves me too. katrollinger@centurylink.net

  27. All of these Christians who are using Acts chapter 5 to defend this woman’s actions are completely ignorant of the truth in the Bible.

    Act 5:25 “Then someone came and said, “Look! The men you put in jail are standing in the temple courts teaching the people.”

    26 At that, the captain went with his officers and brought the apostles. They did not use force, because they feared that the people would stone them.

    27 Having brought the apostles, they made them appear before the Sanhedrin to be questioned by the high priest.

    28 “We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name,” he said. “Yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and are determined to make us guilty of this man’s blood.”

    29 Peter and the other apostles replied: “We must obey God rather than men!”

    In this one instance these people were being told to no longer speak the word of God. If this woman had wanted to preach the word to these people at the same time as issuing the license, then maybe, maybe the scripture would pertain to that incident.

    But the simple fact is, she got a job working with the government; knowing full well that there is a separation of church and state.

    Even beyond that, they seem to want to just forget about what the other apostles said concerning obeying the rules of the authorities.

    Rom 13:1 “Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.

    2 Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.

    3 For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you.

    4 For he is God’s servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God’s servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.

    5 Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience.

    6 This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing.

    7 Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.

    8 Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law.

    9 The commandments, “Do not commit adultery,” “Do not murder,” “Do not steal,” “Do not covet,” and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

    10 Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.”

    1Pt 2:13 “Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every authority instituted among men: whether to the king, as the supreme authority,

    14 or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right.

    15 For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men.

    16 Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God.

    17 Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king.”

    So in truth, her actions go against God and His Word just as much as the actions of the individuals who wanted the marriage certificate.

    Personally, as a Christian, I am holding to the thoughts of Jesus on this type of situation. These people wanted to satisfy the rules and regulations of the world in order to get the same benefits as any other couple, not to please God. It is very similar to Jesus proclaiming give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and God what is God’s. There is a separation of church and state, plain and simple.

    This woman’s actions where ignorant, judgmental, and hate filled. They do not reflect the heart of God, Jesus, and a true Christian.

    • Do you realize that the separation of church and state is not biblical? I’m not defending Kim’s actions as I’m still praying for God’s direction should I encounter a situation such as this, but the separation of church and state is not of God. God has never said such a thing, never even implied it, it wouldn’t even make sense for him to do so. Why would God, who wants to be head over our lives, only want to do it for one portion and not the other? Did not God himself lead Israel in politics, war, EVERYTHING? Did he not consider their desire for a human king rejection? He did, because HE was head of it all and asking for a man to lead them, instead of God himself, was seen by God as them denying him. So, when you’re in Christ, there is no separation o church and state. Not at all.

      The scripture that you’re quoting is out of context. The whole point of the confrontation was to trap Jesus, but Jesus showed them that duty to God and to civil authorities was not in opposition. And in that scripture, it was not because it was talking about taxes. The people owed a debt for the services Rome provided even though Rome was the conqueror. Not only that, God has not condemned paying taxes as sin, no matter how much we’d like him to, lol. So, give unto Caesar the tribute and custom and fear, and honor, and obedience which are due him without it interfering with the honor of God.

      That’s the key though, as long as it doesn’t interfere with the honor of God. In this case, it does because homosexuality is a sin. In the end, every follower of Christ must live and act according to their own understanding of the word. Whether it’s issuing the license or not, God’s mercy and grace would prevail. I say that because I really do believe it’s about the heart. There are two ways I look at this and one of them is a point my mom brought up:

      She says that she would have issued the license because as far as she’s concerned, the piece of paper issued by the state means absolutely nothing. Marriage is a union created by and before God. There is no such thing as homosexual marriage. There just isn’t. That’s why the Bible doesn’t mention it, after all, why would homosexual marriage be a thing if God condemns homosexuality? That never made sense to me. But to be fair, in my mom’s mind, there are quite a bit of heterosexual “marriages” that are not worth the paper they’re printed on. To her, giving the paper would be akin to filing a report. Issuing it would mean nothing to her. She can rest in her decision because she doesn’t feel as though she’s condoning anyone’s sin by her actions.

      Now, take a look at Kim on the other hand. For whatever her faults are, if Kim believes she is following Christ, we have no right to say that she’s not, or that in her heart she doesn’t love God and doesn’t believe she’s doing the right thing. God sees us differently than how we see one another and even if she’s wrong, she deserves the same mercy and love that everyone is falling over themselves to give to homosexuals. If you believe she’s in the wrong, pray that God will show her, but not only her, pray that God will show YOU if YOU’RE wrong. We really need to allow the Holy Spirit to lead us. God will tell us what he wants from us, even in specific situations, if we have a relationship with him.

      But while we do this, while we go through this Christian journey, be careful not to become what you’re reviling.

  28. John. I fully agree with your main post for today and wish that I could be more like Jesus and more like you. This world needs more people who take both the words and the deeds of Jesus seriously and choose to be outward and very vocal followers of Jesus who say and do according to his words. I believe the Christian faith has been hijacked simply because the Jesus followers and Jesus doers in this world chose long ago to be passive and silent. The historical attitude of those good Christians in the mainline churches of my own geographic area has always been clear:

    1) The Christian fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals in our area are mostly ignorant and uneducated people who believe a lot of silly and wrong things about the Christian faith. The best thing to do is just keep quiet and ignore them in the blessed assurance that most other Christians and right-minded nonChristians will somehow see through them and just steer clear of them.

    2) Our various Christian denominations have made an unwritten peace treaty with each other in the interests of brotherly and sisterly love in Jesus Christ. Therefore, to maintain the peace we must be quiet, hold our tongues, and be extra careful not to openly criticize what the Christian fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals believe. (Never mind that the fundie side never signed on to that unwritten peace treaty and has always conducted open, militant warfare against other churches.)

    It is all a very sad situation—but it is a situation that can be easily changed. Indeed, it is already changing and the fundies are already being defeated All we nonfundie Christians have to do is turn up the heat to white hot, pour on the pressure, and regularly do the following (And no—I am not shouting—this is boldface font done the hard way.):

    1) CEASE FROM BEING SILENT. CEASE!!! JESUS SPOKE UP ALL THE TIME, AND YOU SHOULD TOO!!!

    2) STOP BEING A SELF-VOLUNTEERED DOORMAT FOR THE FUNDIES TO WALK ON AND INTERVENE TO PREVENT THEM FROM WALKING ON “THE LEAST OF THESE” IN THIS WORLD.

    3) CRITICIZE AND EXPOSE THE MANY FALSEHOODS, FAULTS, AND FAILURES OF CHRISTIAN FUNDAMENTALISM AND CONSERVATIVE EVANGELICALISM—AND DO IT BEFORE THE EYES OF THE WHOLE WORLD. BE AN OLD TESTAMENT PROPHET AND SPEAK THE TRUTH.

    4) USE THE WORDS OF THE BIBLE AGAINST THE FUNDIES (A SOFT SPOT WHERE THEY ARE EXTREMELY VULNERABLE).

    5) DEMONSTRATE THAT THE FUNDIES ARE INTERESTED MORE IN SAVING A MAN-CREATED AMERICAN CULTURE THAN THEY ARE IN FOLLOWING THE SAYINGS AND DOINGS OF JESUS.

    6) USE SCIENCE AND THE NEVER-ENDING FUNDIE REJECTION OF KNOWN FACTS IN A WIDE VARIETY OF ACADEMIC FIELDS TO MAKE THEM LOOK JUST AS IGNORANT, BACKWARDS, AND SILLY AS THEY REALLY ARE.

    7) ORGANIZE AND BE VERY, VERY, VERY LOUD IN THEIR FACES, AND DO IT BEFORE THE EYES OF THE WHOLE WORLD.

    8) BE AWARE THAT WE ARE OPPOSING AN UPSTART, HOMEGROWN PERVERSION AND SUBVERSION OF THE CHRISTIAN FAITH THAT WAS BORN IN THE GREAT LAKES REGION OF THE UNITED STATES ONLY ABOUT 100 YEARS AGO, WAS MARKETED TO POORLY EDUCATED RURAL PEOPLE, AND HAS BECOME FAR MORE PERVERSE AND SUBVERSE SINCE THE 1970s—NOT TO MENTION HAVING THEIR CHURCHES REGULARLY BEDDED DOWN LIKE CHEAP WHORES BY CROOKED POLITICIANS WHO HAVE NO REAL INTEREST IN THE WORDS AND DEEDS OF JESUS—NOT REALLY.

    9) DO NOT WASTE YOUR TIME SPINNING WHEELS IN A HOPELESS, FOOLISH, AND VAIN EFFORT TO CHANGE THE BLINDED MINDS AND COLD HEARTS OF COMMITTED FUNDIES. OUR GOAL IS INSTEAD TO PREVENT NONCHRISTIANS AND NONFUNDIES FROM BECOMING FUNDIES—AND ENCOURAGE THESE NEW PEOPLE TO BECOME REAL FOLLOWERS OF AND DOERS FOR JESUS, JESUS, JESUS AND OUR FELLOW MEN AND WOMEN ALL OVER THE WORLD.

    10) PRAY HARD, LOVE PEOPLE AS MUCH AS YOU CAN, NEVER GIVE UP, NEVER GIVE IN, AND NEVER CEASE. HAMMER!!! HAMMER!!! HAMMER!!!

  29. Well said and we’ll received. We are all walking this path with the light of Christ within us at this time, and it is that which speaks to us now. Listen closely as you have, it is by these words written, as his testimony, we are his voice. Stay grounded and know this is truth. Beautiful are your words spoken and I feel blessed to have read. Love is our common goal and it is in the teachings of Christ Jesus on this earth as our guide to return to God and that which is our inheritance. Love with all your heart no matter the circumstance. It is this love that emanated from the heart of Jesus that symbolizes and will guide us through these difficult times. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven! Be still and know that Christ is protecting all those who call upon him! Thank you for sharing.

  30. real christian = TERRORIST. That fantasy invented positive discrimination of chrisitan person = ATHEIST. There is NO “good” christians becasue all of them are brain damaged irrational egoistic simplistic morons who live a contrantural inmoral lifestyle and doesnt know what is moral becasue they only care about them, their egoism and their simplistic victimism. That is why there are black churches and “whatever” churches and all of them think theyr are tho chosen ones “better christians”. All them suffering the abrahamic disease spectrum. DONT excuse their CRIMES. DONT depersonalize the guilt of promotin AN INMORAL SECT. NO.

  31. Sorry but you are NOT different. They all think the same. They all have the same brain ilness called christianism. That deviated contrantural behavrios taht made them think they are god itself and convert them into egomaniac crazy morons… NO you are not different becasue the problem IS christianims and other simplistic binary thinking disease sects, not “a few christians”. You can only be a good person being atheist and that is a fact becassue christians follow irrational inmoral egoistic lifestyles promoted by theyr egoism and mentall illnes created byt christianism itself. that binary thinking. So NO SORRY YOU ARE NOT DIFFERNT. YOU ARE NOT BETTER. YOU ARE NOT GOD. You are another VICTIM of taht BRAIN ILLNESS.

  32. Real christian = TERRORIST. That fantasy invented positive discrimination of chrisitan person = ATHEIST. There is NO “good” christians becasue all of them are brain damaged irrational egoistic simplistic morons who live a contrantural inmoral lifestyle and doesnt know what is moral becasue they only care about them, their egoism and their simplistic victimism. That is why there are black churches and “whatever” churches and all of them think theyr are tho chosen ones “better christians”. All them suffering the abrahamic disease spectrum. DONT excuse their CRIMES. DONT depersonalize the guilt of promotin AN INMORAL SECT. NO. STOP BELIEVING IN FANTASY LIES AND FAKE GODS. STOP INMORALITY STOP EXCUSES! FACE THE TRUTH TO SAVE HUMANITY FROM ABRAHAMIC EGOISTIC SECTS. YOU CANNOT CHOSSE REALITY OR WHAT IS MORAL AS A PERSONAL IGNORANT OPPINION! SCIENCE IS TRUTH! BEING GAY IS NATURAL! ABORTION IS NOT KILLING! MONOGAMY DONT EXISTS IN NATURE! NO!!! NO MORE LIES!!! NO MORE LIFES DESTRUCTED WITH ABRAHAMIC EGOISTIC ANTISCIENCE IRRATIONALISM!!!!

  33. Your writings are a delight to this Christian writer, John <3 Holding the title of "Christian" in my mind is simple. I.follow.Christ. Whether this be by His inspired Word, the example of Jesus and His followers, I am predominantly influenced by them because of my Teacher the Holy Spirit. I am no longer a just a person on the membership list of a church, or one that decided to claim a tribe, therefore claiming, "I am a Christian". I am a Christian because I have been transformed by His Spirit, and had a powerful encounter with Jesus/God which has grown into a mature relationship. From this relationship & interaction with our living, loving God, I am guided, comforted, corrected, and loved. Every day, my goal is to be a blessing to others…cry with them, laugh with them, encourage them, be an example that will honor my Lord. God Bless.

  34. Howdy – atheist here. I am guilty as charged regarding your initial couple of paragraphs. But, ultimately, I know that just as most atheists are not the caricatures they are presented as, neither are most christians. Sometimes we both just need to be reminded. I can’t improve christianity – or its perception – from the outside. And frankly, I have no great desire to. But it makes me happy and hopeful that YOU want to.

  35. I like the encouraging nature of your post, the collective spirit of coming together to do nothing but serve and accept.
    Let’s not forget that Jesus also assertively disagreed with people in their sin – the woman at the well, the commoners selling wares in the temple, the pharisees, the rich young man, Peter on several occasions. He never let people living in sin misunderstand that their sin was a peril to their relationship with God.
    Unfortunately there is no room for this dialog today. Christians are called upon to exchange Jesus core teaching for new, more acceptable theology that says we will serve, embrace, and accept without mention of righteousness, redemption, or transformation. We must remember that in these stories from our Kid Christianity there are also more mature themes; Jesus fed the hungry then taught them a better way of living, Jesus ate with prostitutes and tax collectors then taught them about purity, He spoke of injustice in the hall of power to the powerful but also reminded the poor they were capable of similar injustice, He endured the cross to arise then taught about living radically for God, not self.
    The stories of our Kid Christianity call us to radical transformation that oliges our will closer to the Father’s will. The world, and I fear even some Christians, only want the stories – not so much the responsibility.

  36. Thank you for this. As someone who is looking for a way back to Jesus, knowing that there are Christians like you out there is comforting. Especially when most of the ones I run into are the Kin Davis kind. Please keep showing there is another way. You never know who might need your version of Jesus.

    • Interestingly you say you are finding your way back. You were moved as I was that you felt vindicated by the truth of his words. This has brought the truth out in the open and the gospel of grace has come out in the sunshine again

  37. I grew up loving and believing in the Jesus you write about. I left Christianity because it seemed no one was interested in actually doing what Jesus instructed his followers to do. I grew tired of the lack of compassion, the anger, and the self-righteousness. I became a Buddhist because there seemed to be a lot less yelling. But the Jesus you write about still informs every part of my life as I practice loving kindness, compassion, and try to help those who have less than I do. I miss that Jesus, but there is no way in this life that I will ever return to the Christian church. It is just too loud, intolerant, and scary. Thank you for a beautiful piece of writing.

  38. Did Jesus have compassion for sinners! Absolutely!!! But He also told the woman at the well to go and sin no more. He knew she could not live perfect but what He was in reference to was to stop living in the sin she was living in. Sin is sin. Because of sin Christ had to die to set us free. Sin separates us from God. Do we still sin after being saved? Of course we do, because we are sinners saved by grace, but still sinners. Does that mean it is ok for us to thumb our nose at God and continue to blaspheme Him? “God forbid” as Paul put it. If we at anytime put down a believer or non believer because of a sin “SHAME ON US”!!! But that does not mean we have to enable a sinner in his sin. We love people. If we do not love people and say we love God the bible tells us we are a LIAR! But we do not have to condone sin and make it acceptable!!

    • So, you are afraid that someone is going to stop telling sinners that they are sinners? Jesus says that everyone is a sinner, including you and me. There, I just told you that you are a sinner, and I just told me that I am a sinner.

      So, what do you want to happen now—and what effect will it have?

      • I believe John’s point was that Jesus, and likewise we, should have compassion for sinners. It’s not my job to tell anyone they are a sinner. That’s the work of the Holy Spirit. The way I read the Bible, my job as a Christian is to love EVERYONE. PERIOD.

  39. Yes, Jesus is love. But what do you do with the Jesus who told people to repent and go sin no more? Is that Jesus too harsh and unloving for “progressive” theology? Call me what you want, but I am a Christian who stands for Truth. I am not angry. I am not hateful. But I will not call evil good in order to “defend equality”! If that is not “progressive” enough, then perhaps you have “progressed” beyond the Truth of the Bible and are creating your own.

    • You’ll never convince me that hate of LGBTQ people—and all sorts of other people—is not formally part of the Christian fundamentalist and conservative evangelical agenda. You people say one thing—but you do another in your private lives, in your churches, and in your parachurch political organizations. I am just wondering when you people are going to come to grips with the fact that you serve Jesus with your lips but pursue an anti-Jesus agenda in the doing and living out of your lives—an agenda of heart that is far from Jesus.

    • So Teri. What should we do about the out-of-closet homosexuals in our midst on the American streets now that a mostly Roman Catholic U.S. Supreme Court has handed them gay marriage on a platter? When does the program of persecution and killing begin? Would you like me to arrange for you to personally torture and kill the first homo? I can go kidnap one and bring him to your house? You get the matches and cigarettes ready. I will bring the pliers for the fingernails and toenails. Have you got some really sharp kitchen knives?

      “Humph!!! Well, it just seems like there should be something we can do to stop these homo sinners before God destroys us all.”

      Sorry Teri. Jesus does not give you the right to do any of this. It is against the law to stalk and harass people. You can tell them that they are sinners and that they are going to Hell if you like. However, I guarantee you that every gay person in the United States has been confronted with this. They know what you think. It will not stop them because they think you are wrong. As for who goes to Hell, you do not get to decide that, and you are not authorized to begin anyone’s Hell experience early because Jesus seems to be lolly gagging around and slow about it.

      So, what are you going to do Teri?

  40. John, fantastic article. You’ve beautifully articulated the way I feel, and the way I know so many people feel.

    At the same time I am refreshed by this article, I am saddened by some of the comments here, which make me a little nervous for “christianity” as a whole (ahem, dover1952 – “hammer, hammer, hammer”?)

    • Ma’am. Just to calm your nerves, I seriously doubt people like you need any hammering. The thing you do not seem to understand is that Christian fundamentalism and conservative evangelicalism have been in a self-declared war against all the rest of Christendom ever since the early 1900s. They make no bones about it in their writings and oral presentations in a wide variety of venues. The Christian fundamentalists began that war in the early 20th century, and the conservative evangelicals signed on to it in about the year 1970 and certainly by 1979 when Paul Pressler and Paige Patterson hijacked the Southern Baptist Convention and turned it into a Christian fundamentalist organization. I have studied these people, what they believe, how they operate, and what their plans are for decades. If you and the people in your church agree with what John wrote in his main post, I can pretty much assure you that these fundies—when they get the political power necessary to do it—will do their best to shut down your church—and declare you and all of your fellow church members as enemies of God—then the real persecution (hammer, hammer, hammer) begins. The mean-spirited and horrid way the conservatives in the SBC treated the SBC leaders, professors, and missionaries who disagreed with them after the 1979 fundie takeover is only a small taste of the harsh hammering we would see from them if they controlled the United States with political and governmental power.

      The reason they have achieved so much since 1970 is because more sensitive and loving Christians like yourself have decided that the proper response to them is to roll over, keep silent, do nothing, say nothing, and play dead. John Pavlovitz is not rolling over and playing dead. He is doing what the prophets of the Old Testament did—speaking the truth to political and religious power centers—and just like in ancient times—they are words these power centers do not wish to hear because the evil words of others are scratching their itching ears.

      The major difference between John’s approach and my approach is that I am more direct, assertive, and to the point about it—and when I see a spade—I call it a spade rather than “that little, black, heart-shaped thing that looks like it has a nice handle attached to the bottom of it.” The fundies see themselves as being at constant and incessant war with what they define as “apostate” Christians (all other Christians except themselves), people of other religions, the nonbelievers in the world, and those Jesus called “the least of these.” This is why I am at war with them. They declared war on all of us first, and (figuratively speaking) they came militantly charging and screaming, with their guns blazing, over the hill at loving and peaceful people. I could lay down my rifle in the face of their onslaught if you want me to, but I have a couple of children who sleep here in my home. One of them is sleeping right now in the bedroom just across the hall from me. They are both classic “good kids.” They are good kids just like John’s two kids are good kids. Any of you would be happy to have them as your kids. However, the thought of them growing up in a world controlled by ignoramuses like Kent Hovind, Tony Perkins, Jack Hyles, Hal Lindsey, Kim Davis, Bob Jones III, Tim LaHaye, Gary North, and David Barton is just more than my soul can bear. Therefore, I am absolutely determined to spend at least a portion of the rest of my life fighting their wicked agendas, organizing against them, seeing to it that they never achieve the political and governmental power that they seek, and preventing them from hurting others—particularly those that Jesus called “the least of these.” My war is not against God the Father, Jesus Christ, or the Holy Spirit. My war is against all too human people who have chosen to behave as if they are God.

  41. So, this is all very pretty and all, but it literally doesn’t matter.

    It doesn’t matter that *you believe* they don’t speak for Jesus, *they believe* they speak for Jesus, and claim they speak for Jesus. So if you’re speaking to the masses, don’t try to convince me that they don’t speak for Jesus; tell me what you’re going to do about the fact that they do.

    Your words may be pretty, but the people being killed because Donald Trump is preaching that Hispanics are less than human aren’t going to come back to life because he’s not really a Christian or whatever “true Christians” like to think so they can sleep better at night.

    • Lynn. This you need to learn. Not everyone that claims to speak for Jesus is speaking for Jesus. I could claim to be a special diplomatic envoy from Donald Duck to you. However, people can claim anything. The fact that someone lays claim to something does not mean they are right in what they say.

      As for Hispanic people, God has taught us to welcome strangers in our midst. Most of the Hispanic people who enter the United States are “the least of these” that Jesus talks about in the New Testament. They are some of the poorest people on planet Earth. Christians fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals want to seal off the southern border for the following reasons:

      1) Hispanic immigrants break our civil laws by coming here. Well, so does Kim Davis. God calls us to a higher and more overarching law of love that demands that we accept those who come here seeking refuge and a chance for a better life.

      2) Many of them are racists who hate Hispanic people simply because they have American Indian blood coursing through their veins. Shame on you!!!

      3) Many fear them because they have a different culture of origin and a strange language they cannot speak—and they are afraid that the centerpiece of Thanksgiving dinner will become a giant Taco.

      4) Don’t them Hispanics look like Arabs? No, they most certainly do not—and if you cannot distinguish Spanish from Arabic—then we have to add that you are—how to put this nicely—just plain stupid.

      5) Plain old, rock bottom, Biblical selfishness. ME FIRST and GOD LAST. “Those spics are going to take away even more of my hard-earned tax dollars, and I will never be able to buy that new Bass Boat I have had my eye on for sometime now—and that’s just not fair!!!” Go to Jesus and the story of the rich young man. If a Bass Boat or anything else involving money or mammon is standing in the way of your helping a poor Hispanic child who has just come across the border, Jesus says your desire for that Bass Boat LOSES EVERY TIME!!!

      6) And do not dare talk to me about the money used to help Hispanics prevents us from helping our own people who are poor, sick, hungry, in need of a job, etc.—and their needs will be displaced. You Christian fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals line up like lemmings at the voting booth to put Republican politicians in office who state their opposition to the very existence of Social Security, Unemployment Insurance, Food Stamps, Obamacare, etc. for our own people. You do not care one twit about these poor, hungry, and sick Americans. You automatically and indiscriminately write them ALL off as lazy people who refuse to work—when you do not even know these people. You are nothing but a bunch of vile hypocrites—and your own words and deeds convict you. We need to be taking better care of our own people AND the Hispanic immigrants who come here. Given that we are the richest nation on Earth by far, Jesus is not going to cut the United States any slack on this. We are the rich man—and Lazarus is sitting in our southern gateway with dogs licking his sores.

      7) “Well, where is this money going to come from? We are already $17 trillion dollars in debt.” It is going to come from my pockets, your pockets, and the pockets of the corporations of this country—the ones who unfairly have some of the lowest tax rates on Earth—and the refusal of the Republican Party to raise any taxes for going on 30 years. And do you seriously think the U.S. Government borrowed that $17 trillion dollars with the intent of ever paying back the full principle. You know politicians are liars and cheats. Got U.S. Savings Bonds? You might want to pull your money out before the default comes.

  42. Pingback: Dear World, I’m A Christian, But… | offandonthemargins

  43. Louder with our love! Yes! It makes me weep when my secular friends say “where are the progressive Christians denouncing the ignorance and hatred of Kim Davis and Mike Huckabee?”

    “We are here!” I say. “Davis and Cruz and Huckabee et al. have a bigger microphone but they do not speak for all! We are right here shouting into the wind and hoping for Horton to hear us! YOPP!”

  44. You have described the Jesus who saved me, who walked through the dark places no one else was willing to go, to find me and bring me home. Who holds on to us and doesn’t let us go. Thank you John

  45. I was raised a Christian, and I remember lying in bed when I was maybe four years old, wondering why these Christians around me were such hypocrites. I doubt that I even knew the word hypocrite then, but I knew what one was. They were people who didn’t follow the teachings they said they followed. Their behavior didn’t match their beliefs. I had to grow up into Sufism before I figured out how to relate to the Living Christ. And even then, I spent years fearing Hell because I had grown away from the Church, even though I knew I hadn’t grown away from Christ. I guess I am what they call a “recovering” Protestant. Relentless forgiveness? Sounds self-righteous to me. But then, I am in recovery.

  46. Thank you for sharing this thoughtful post. One of my most ardent prayers these days is that more of us will speak louder. I’m brought to tears seeing million of refugees. And then I’m brought to tears when alleged Christians say that “we” have our own problems, so good luck with that whole trying to not die thing.

    “We” move homeless shelters away from social services because a wealthy tourist wrote a letter about not wanting to have to see homeless people. We excuse bad behavior based on race. We tell people to pick themselves up, without acknowledging how many times we have been picked up. We, to use the pronoun of the masses, are not doing right by our God when we walk away from suffering, toward judging, and alongside the status quo in which not all people are free… I’m disheartened that it seems the hateful ilk are the ones who have time for publicly commenting online with news and other social media posts. They do not speak for us all. Keep doing what you do, brother. Peace.

    • Most of them have the time to comment on social media because they are hard-hearted old fossils living in retirement and with one foot already in the grave. Their parents taught them the Bible, and ironically, they taught them that the most important things in life are conformity, comfort, money, and mammon. Of course, no one bothered to mention that you cannot take those things with you when that old one foot is in the grave. It is all summed up in a famous song by The Eagles. “In one hand I have a Bible, and the other I got a gun. Don’t you know me. I’m the man who won?” Give it a listen:

  47. Thank you, a very well written piece. I used to be a Christian and was for most of my life. I have now rejected it am a committed atheist. Most of the Christians I have remained friend with share a very similar view to yours and it’s good to see people express it publicly – good for you! I have stayed in contact with some other Christians but they tend to be the use the bible as a bulldozer types who make wince every time they take to facebook.

  48. Thank you so much for beautifully putting into words what I have been struggling with. You bring great joy and hope into my morning today. May Jesus continue to bless you.

  49. A pleasant read, really enjoyed reading. I relate to what you say about missing the childhood part of having or following religion. That was good for me too, kind of gave structure and stability but religion and modern day life just don’t go together.

      • I’m not really sure what i am, an aethist of sorts but if there is a higher power it really does make things interesting.

        In todays world surely everyone would be straight on a slide heading for a hell of sorts. It stands to reason, I mean war, hunger, violence and all the rest of it. I see religion as more of a inner peace tool. Maybe there was a dude named Jesus who preached these tales but the truth in them is highly debatable I think.

        I mean how does society deal with things like genocide, terrorism and poverty without booking itself a first class ticket to hell.

  50. This would fall under all grace and no truth. (John 1:17) Jesus said in the Word that, if you love him, we are to obey his commands. (John 14:15) His commands line up with the Father (John 10:30) and, remember, if you really want to love like Jesus, be ready, because you will be hated and persecuted by those that hate righteousness. (John 15:18-25) Jesus sure did love. He loved us to DEATH! He loved in such a way it got him crucified. He loves us enough to tell us what we may not want to hear, but what will save us in the end. True unconditional love. (Romans 5:8) Unconditional love, not unconditional acceptance. Does that mean we spew hate towards sinners? Absolutely not! We are to show them the love and grace of Christ, but without abandoning the truth. God requires us to take a stand and to be holy as he is holy! (1 Peter 1:16) We love sinners, but we do not compromise the holiness and standard of God. You mock the crucified Lord when you do that. You belittle his sacrifice because you belittle sin. Salvation may be free, but it came at such a great cost. A watered down gospel is a powerless gospel. Truth, what is right, does not conform to us. We must conform to it. In choosing to make a fluffy cloud version of Jesus to present to the world, you create your own version of Jesus which is not the Jesus of the Bible and are guilty of breaking the second commandment as well as the first. The Bible is not a buffet where you can pick and choose what you like and leave the rest. It doesn’t work that way. We conform to it. Not the other way around. Unconditional love for sinners and offering a message of hope in Christ does not relieve us of our obligation to take a stand against sin. Again, unconditional love does not mean unconditional acceptance. I pray this will help you see the truth and to truly delve into the Word of God instead of creating a false version of Jesus to try and justify not taking a stand for what God established in his Word to be right from wrong. Thank you for reading and God bless! You will be in my prayers! =)

    • Okay. I will take a stand against sin. I hereby take a formal stand against YOUR SIN and your own cafeteria Christian belief that the Christian faith is about nothing else but: “Sin. Repent. Be Saved. Sanctify myself. All done.” In doing that, you expel about half of the Bible. Congratulations.

    • And what was the command of Jesus in the Bible Kevin?

      “These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full. This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you.” (John 15:12)

      Go sit on that and rotate Kevin.

  51. Well said indeed. The triumphalism and figurative chest-bumps when Kim Davis was released were embarrassing and set back the Gospel witness of the Church. Because our mission is not to force others to live the way we think they should, especially not by using the force of government. Indeedk our mission is not against them, it is to them, for them, and with them. We are not called to beat them or defeat them. Our mission is to win them.

    • They are for the most part unwinnable—sorry to say. Our best chances are to win those people to Jesus Christ who have not yet gone over to the “Dark Side” of the Christian faith—-if it even is the Christian faith—which I am beginning to doubt.

      • The Others I speak of are any and all who are not (yet) saved by the grace of Jesus Christ. And that may include many who honor Him with their lips, but whose hearts are far from Him. My point is that we do not fulfill our mission by “beating” the non-Christians with some court case or law passed or candidate elected. Our mission surely is not to use the power of the government to force non-believers to behave as if they are believers.

  52. You write beautifully, and I agree with what you said. However, you appear to be one of the millions of Incomplete Christians living now, who would rather hand everyone a lovely thought, like the Flower Children of the ’60s, while ignoring the real reason Jesus came to earth.

    Yes, you spoke of the crucifixion, but not what Jesus said to many whom He encountered: “Go, and sin no more.”

    Jesus loved people to the point where they understood that they had done wrong – not that they were loved so much that it didn’t matter how they lived. And that is what is wrong with Liberal Christianity. To suddenly say, “I don’t care what the Bible says, this can’t be wrong because it makes me feel so good,” is an eternally fatal error.

    Yes, each person must recognize his / her own sins and personally repent. No, no one has any business judging anyone else. But the list of what constitutes a sin and what doesn’t has not changed in six thousand-plus years.

      • Jesus said “I come NOT to abolish the law, but to fulfill it”

        The Jews are still held to the Law. The Gentiles never were held to Mosaic Law. In fact, Jews are still mandated to circumcise, Gentiles are not. The gentiles were given 4 laws to follow during the Jerusalem Council. “It is my (James) judgement, therefore, that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God. Instead we should write to them, telling them to abstain from food poluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from the meat of strangel animals and from blood.” Acts 15: 19-20. A letter was sent to the churches of Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia detailing this.

    • Pam. Have you ever studied nonfundamentalist and nonconservative evangelical Christian theology in depth like you would as a student in a seminary? From reading what you wrote, It occurs to me that you have a street urchin’s understanding of it that was slapped on your back by a rural preacher with a couple of Post-It notes.

      No. I have not either—but I know enough about it to understand that what you just wrote is bullshit—and I do not think John or a number of the people you count as liberal Christians discount the Bible. They may not agree with how you understand it in all places— but they do not discount it.

  53. I am amazed at the attitudes of Christians today who think that Christ was all love and mushiness and accepting of sin. I am amazed at Christians today who immediately accuse other Christians of intolerance, hate, anger, bigotry, acrimony, war and etc. because those Christians stand up and identify the sin that rebelliously separates people from God, in an effort to come out of the world, but not silently walk the world into Hell. I am amazed at the attitudes of Christians today who long for the days when Christianity was just a quiet, live unto one’s self, easy job that required no serious Bible study or understanding of God’s holiness. I am amazed at the ignorance of God’s Word by Christians today where Jesus said, “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35For I have come to turn“ ‘a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law— 36a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household. 37“Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.” Matthew 10:34-38 Christ is divisive. His Truth is not the World’s truth and His Way is not the world’s way. The world will not like you. If you want the world to like you and identify you as an enabling, squishy, “love means never having to say sin is wrong”, then you have not taken up your cross. I am seeing more and more “Christians” who, if they had been around during the days of Daniel, would have been joining the Satraps yelling that Daniel broke the law, should have just done what he was told and that his refusal to go against his God was an act of self-centered rebellion just trying to prove a point. “Throw him into the lion’s den!,” you people would have shouted. “He deserves the punishment for being so intolerant! And please, don’t judge ME by his hateful behavior.”

    • Okay. So from your perspective, what needs to happen to sinners in America right now if they refuse to accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior. Do we imprison them? Do we kill them? Do we tell them that they have no right to a job? They are obviously terrible people that need to have something terrible done to them. Do we avoid restaurant waitresses who are known fornicators?

      “Excuse me. I heard you were a fornicator, could I see the manager please? Mr. Manager, my Christian faith requires me to separate myself from sinners. Could you get me another waitress because (whisper) I know that this waitress is a known fornicator.”

      Let’s all do that and go to war with each other in American society—let all decent social relationships fall apart and judge the living daylights out of everyone we see and inflict the punishment according to Old Testament law. Lots of hatred. Lots of killing. Lots of crying moms. Don’t you think Jesus would love that?

      That makes just a Hell of a lot of sense doesn’t?

  54. That sounds so nice and sweet and all roses and sunshine and rainbows. Gives me tingles up and down my spine.

    Now let’s grow up.

    What of Christ’s sacrifice? What of sin? What of Law and Gospel? There can be Law without Gospel (hell), but there can’t be Gospel without Law. (Christ paying the ultimate price for our sin.) Yes, there is sin, and all this “Jesus of my childhood…” nonsense is just that: nonsense. We eventually leave childhood, or at least we should. We eventually leave milk and start ingesting meat.

    It’s time you gave up milk and started eating meat. I would suggest starting with Law and Gospel, because those are the two primary themes of Scripture. Leave the “feel-good” non-Jesus to the world which is perishing, thinking that it will be saved in its sin. We are not saved IN sin, we are saved FROM sin. It’s time Christians start acknowledging that. But to be saved FROM sin, we first have to admit and recognize that there is sin.

  55. Every opinion is different, every understanding of scripture is different (we learn lessons at a different rate just like education levels) …..and each of us walk with God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit is different…… why because EVERYONES spiritual walk is their own personal walk with Christ when you accept him as your savior. He reveals himself as needed in each person’s life at the right time (think back to when you did not follow or did not believe) – When Jesus met the woman at the well, he said he who is without sin cast the first stone. God did not provide the Holy Spirit so that we may instruct others as to how they should live. The Holy Spirit is for every believer to be guided. The greatest commandment is to love God with your whole heart, whole mind and soul…. and the second is love your neighbor as yourself. In looking at HOW you want to be treated….. ask yourself this… do you want to be disrespected, judged, hated, discriminated against, condemned and treated less than others day after day after day while trying to exist on this earth? Being treated that way produces a broken spirits in which we have millions on earth that only God can mend. When you speak against one another you only place hurdles and a temptation of anger to fight back against hurtful words. Scripture is there for us as believers to learn how to walk on this earth as Jesus did. There are arguments here on just about every aspect of Christianity. Many of these arguments we are called to avoid because eventually we all will be judged. –
    Matthew 12:36-37
    36 I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, 37 for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”
    I have nothing to say about anything anyone said in favor or against- But I understand why John Pav started this dialog to generate or provoke the simple thought of loving one another without judgment –

    May God be with us all and may each of us learn the respect and true God-like love that this world desperately needs.

    From your imperfect sister in Christ, who only lives by the Grace of God and can hold no stones because she is not without sin, but seeks to find love in her heart for all human beings – as she walks with Christ as he mends her broken spirit.

  56. Thank you for this. Time and again you put words to my thoughts, as if you read my mind. This morning, I saw a clip of Mike Huckabee and Kim Davis celebrating with raised hands her “victory.” It sickened me. I have been a fan of Huckabee, not necessarily in the political sense, but I have heard him speak at our church and liked a lot of what he was about. But when it comes to Kim Davis, it is one of the biggest abuses of “Christian Power” I have seen. If Kim Davis’ beliefs prevent her from issuing marriage licenses, she should have quit her job or asked to be reassigned. To make herself a spectacle and waste untold taxpayer dollars to fight for what she believes is her religious right is not only foolish, but brings shame to the very God she professes to serve. “If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal…” If I have not love… where is the love in Kim Davis’ defiance? How does that promote the Good News? God has not called us to judge and condemn. Our job is to love, nothing else. It’s the Holy Spirit’s job to call us to repentance.

    • Jesus condemned people in the bible constantly. He tongue lashed the Pharisees on a routine basis. I don’t see how you think that enabling sin is OK.

  57. I’ve already left a pretty lengthy reply to Richard Cooklish so I try to keep my points in this comment short. To everyone who is coming up with reasons as to why Jesus would or would not support gay marriage-America is not a theocracy. Our Christian religion cannot and SHOULD NOT dictate the laws of the land, the representatives we elect do that. If you want to vote for representatives that promise to ban gay marriage, go do that. But an majority of Americans disagree with you and whether or not gay relations are permitted in the Bible is not a legally valid argument. You want to keep your church from performing marriages for gay couples? Fine, that arena is where Biblical arguments belong. Not in the Supreme Court or the laws that govern ALL Americans of different faiths, creeds, and beliefs.

    • That is precisely what a 19th century American Baptist would have said (in the long tradition of Roger Williams) long before the notions of liberalism and conservatism as we understand them today ever existed in American life. It is an excellent argument because the government of the United States was not founded on the Bible, in spite of the falsehoods agenda-driven people like Texas political operative David Barton spreads around—a man I may add that has no formal academic training in American history or American government. You want to know what the United States was really founded on? Go talk to a history professor at your local state university. He knows—and it was not God, Jesus, or the Bible.

  58. Saw someone post this today. Ok, that’s fine. But then you also need to understand that the same goes for Muslims or any other religion!! They too shouldn’t be blamed or judged for the wrong doings of others that share the same religion. Otherwise it’s hypocritical.

  59. The Bible is not the word of God because it was written by men and as such is not his direct word but an interpretation and colored by the thoughts and impressions of those men. For example, take a group of people and ask them to paint the same scene they see before them – a group of children playing outside. Not every painting will be identical – not everyone will use the same colors, some may choosed to exclude the flowers in the background, some may focus more on the children’s faces while others will focus more on what the children are playing with, etc. But as each of the artists what their painting is and they will say is a painting of a group of children playing outside.

    As for a previous comment that others need to be taught and shown that they are wrong – NO! Just because you are a Christian or a Jew or a Muslim or an Atheist it does not mean that you are right and others are wrong and need to be “taught”. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion and to live their lives as they see fit as long as they are doing no harm to others. Living as a same sex couple does no harm to others who do not agree with that lifestyle. Forcing a person who is homosexual to marry and be with someone of the opposite sex is harmful not only to that person but to the person who marries them as well. A woman who wants to be covered head to foot in clothing as a sign of her faith is fine. Forcing that women to do so when she does not want to, is harmful. Unfortunately, by demanding that others see that your own particular religion is the correct one you create hatred, bigotry, anger and wars.

  60. Hello John,

    This is a great blog. I am an Atheist and I enjoyed it. It’s good to see someone who aligns them self with a religion can also see what the rest of us see. The constant hypocrisy being pushed as religious freedom and the false victimization. I hope you read your comments and you read all the comments from other christians. Sure, some are in support of what you’ve written here but look at those who aren’t. This is why religion should have no place outside of the inside of your head. It does not belong in public school, politics, the work place or any public place where rational people reside. Church, your head and your home is where it belongs. It’s not the nuts on TV I can’t stand it’s the average christian who thinks the problem with the world is that everyone he sees is not identical to him, believes in what he believes and lives as he lives. There’s more millions who think like this than think like you and it’s something that cannot be changed easily or maybe at all. These people are indoctrinated from birth and will do the same to their children, despite facts, social evolution or any evolution for that matter.Do you see a happy compromise on the horizon? When pastors preach hate? The bible is not the word of god, it has been edited, and edited and edited over and over and over again by tyrants and kings to fit their model of control for their people. Do christians know that? Do they care? Also, if you’re so open minded why aren’t so many other christians? Who ever taught you, or influenced you needs to speak a bit louder because the monsters grow stronger.

  61. Joh 5:14 Afterward Jesus findeth him in the temple, and said unto him, Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee.
    Joh 8:11 She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.
    It always, go and sin no more , If we don’t warn them of the danger of their sin then who will ? what do you think the church is here for just to look pretty or make t.v evangelist rich, no were here to hold back evil and the government is should be neutral it matter of morals but never should they promote immorality and neither should we Jesus stands for holiness He will forgive anyone that ask but to live in sin is not repentance Lu 13:3 I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.
    Lu 13:5 I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. Lu 13:3 I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.1Jo 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. we are supposed to preach the word always , 2Ti 4:2 Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. and if you don’t their blood is on your hands , Eze 33:6 But if the watchman see the sword come, and blow not the trumpet, and the people be not warned; if the sword come, and take any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at the watchman’s hand. so go on and bad mouth Kim Davis but she just trying to show the severity !

  62. Dear JOHNDPAV, the bible itself says that jesus wants you to be either cold or hot for if you are lukewarm “I will spew you out of my mouth”. Your Christianity appears to be childlike. Either believe and support all the bible commands and orders or admit that it is all nonsense. It is hypocritical to pick and choose just the nice mushy bits and ignore the violent bigoted hatred espoused by this ancient and outdated book. It is the less pretty parts that those who offend you are espousing. Perhaps you have, like most “christians” never actually read this book from cover to cover without some other biased person telling you what it supposedly means. It is my belief that if you do, you will see this hatred filled book for what it really is. If you are still a “true believer” and want to live and walk by this ancient guide, you will need to stone women who are divorced and remarried; sell your daughter into (and support) slavery; pluck out your own eye if you look at a woman with lust; be put to death if you work on the Sabbath; kill your son if he disobeys you, stone any woman to death whose husband says she was not a virgin on her wedding night, kill your enemies in the name of god, et cetera. Remember that your “god” who supposedly created man in his own image committed an act of insane genocide not once but twice according to your “holy book”. How is it possible for an “omnipotent and omniscient” deity to screw things up so incredibly badly? You are tarred with the same brush as your christian counterparts because your book is the same as theirs and your nice sweet kind interpretation fails to take into account the whole of the horrific manuscript. At least your heart seems to be in the right place and for that I commend you. After studying the bible in its entirety, studying other religious beliefs – including the two other major religions that share your same Abrahamic god (Judaism and Islam) – I have been able to make the difficult and major step of denouncing my christianity after 23 years of being tortured and abused by its hateful teachings. If you after truly studying the bible come to the same logical conclusion and need help escaping from the christian cult, I would be happy to help you. I now live with true peace and true personal responsibility for my actions. My experience on this planet has improved phenomenally. Yours can too. With (unchristian) love, Pete

    • “Your Christianity appears to be childlike.”

      And [Jesus] called a child to Himself and set him before them, and said, “Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. “Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.…”

      Christian fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals ignore important parts of the Bible all of the time. Me thinks the pot is calling the kettle black.

  63. A good article. As someone who is not “Christian” or who doesn’t really believe in any of these imaginary magic beings, the level of bigotry, ignorance, hypocrisy, and self-righteousness is simply amazing. All in the name of Jesus? For real? As ignorant as I am in the theology area, I can’t believe what some people perhaps honestly believe Jesus was all about. I think you need to open the good book again.

    The actual truth is that you are bigots. Period. You are afraid of people who are not like you, are insecure because of your own shortcomings, and use religion and your “beliefs” to absolve you of responsibility for your abhorrent actions towards others. It’s real easy to say and do obnoxious things by hiding behind the bible and saying “God” made me do it. Stop being small, stand up, and take responsibility for being a scumbag.

  64. Ps. JP Scribner is a Christian who puts God first…. condemns no one… judges no one….loves all people … respects all religions that provide people love and peace…. and JP Scribner is someone who is of the LGBT community – before you comment on this…. go back and read my first post. You can hate me, correct me and condemn me….. don’t think that I don’t struggle with the hatred that surrounds the LGBT community – I attempted suicide and by the Grace of God, I lived – for years I have struggled with why God would allow me to live when people say I would be better off dead…… the truth is God loves me and even if I have to stand alone the rest of my life being kind to all people – that’s what I will do even if you hate me and condemn me, because God tells me to love my enemies and pray for those who persecute you. I don’t have all the answers. And before you condemn me again…… I go to church, I read my bible, I try to do good and …… well I am still LGBT …… and Its been 7 years single – living in this world single being hated for a lifestyle that I don’t even partake in …. but it doesn’t change me. I’m still me and I have a conscience, I know when God convicts me of wrong doing…. and sorry but he doesn’t convict me … but rather I feel his calling to stand…. yes just stand and love all people, even if you hate me. Peace of God be with you all –

  65. Over and over again I read defenders of bigotry here saying we need to “grow up” in our faith and tell people to sin no more. By that sin I know you must mean acts related to homosexuality, and somehow I doubt that you are similarly condemning acts related to eating shellfish, wearing fabric blends, or sitting in the same chair as a woman had who’d been menstruating. Is that growing up, to you? To condemn something it’s silly to think of as sinful, rather than true, oppressive, or pharisaic acts which separate us from atonement with God? Saw someone quoting 1 Corinthians 13 earlier; let’s look at some more:

    “Love never fails. … When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I was a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. … And now these three remain: Faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

    It is far more vulnerable, difficult, and mature to go from Saul to Paul- from persecuting to loving.

  66. Over and over again I read defenders of bigotry here saying we need to “grow up” in our faith and tell people to sin no more. By that sin I know you must mean acts related to homosexuality, and somehow I doubt that you are similarly condemning acts related to eating shellfish, wearing fabric blends, or sitting in the same chair as a woman had who’d been menstruating. Is that growing up, to you? To condemn something it’s silly to think of as sinful, rather than true, oppressive, or pharisaic acts which separate us from atonement with God? Saw someone quoting 1 Corinthians 13 earlier; let’s look at some more:

    “Love never fails. … When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I was a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. … And now these three remain: Faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

    It is far more vulnerable, difficult, and mature to go from Saul to Paul- from persecuting to loving

  67. Yes. I wrote about something very very similar back at the beginning of the summer and was met with some of the same negative comments and adversity that you are seeing in your comment section. Religion has ruined the greatness of the cross. And legalism is pushing more and more people away.

    “the level of bigotry, ignorance, hypocrisy, and self-righteousness ” This is what Christianity has become. I love Jesus with all of my being, but being a Christ follower is much more of who I am than what the world views the term “Christian” as today. Great post!

  68. Our job is not to force non-Christians to behave as if they are Christians. Especially, not to use the jackboots of the government to do so. Within the Church we are to instruct, exhort, reprove, correct each other towards righteousness. But as we face the world, we have only one goal: witness of Jesus Christ. Our apologetics are love and sacrifice. Not judgement, not accusation, not moral superiority.

  69. Dear JOHNDPAV,

    As a former Christian, I appreciate your thoughts, and applaud your determination to return to the Jesus of your childhood. Had I had that Jesus, I would perhaps have been less motivated to examine how the christianity I experienced was shaped–and would have never have made the effort to trace some of the most damaging and biased norms and mores we find in christianity today back through history.

    But my Jesus wasn’t your Jesus, and I WAS motivated, and what I found was this: that the story of christianity is a story of an idea being shaped over and over again by culture, and by the biases of those in power. From the earliest days, the shape of the Bible was determined by a comparatively small group of men who used their positions all too often to edit, augment, and sometimes just plain rewrite what we have been taught to regard as sacred text to better suit their own ends, and shore up their own power. For example, there are a number of examples demonstrating how the role of women in the church was sharply limited–and those limitations were “supported” by what have been determined are inaccurate translations. To take another example, one that lies right at the heart of both Judaism and Christianity, is the translation of pronouns related to what we have come to refer to as “God the Father.” In the earliest translations, the pronouns used to refer to this Being are gender-neutral. We would be just as accurate referring to Goddess the Mother, or It. And yet, that central bias permeates all of Christianity, and plays an enormous role in how women have been treated. This is not a particularly archane example, nor is it new information–I first learned this in 1980. It’s widely acknowledged–and yet just try referring to Divinity as “she” in a Christian Bible study class, and watch what happens. Those ancient biases do more than just “shape” christianity–in many cases they lie at the very heart of it.

    To take this a step further, I’ve discovered that a significant number of Christian doctrines are only “supported” by much later interpolations–core Christian doctrines are not supported by the oldest available texts. To give a couple examples, let me just mention that the story of the resurrection is one of these later interpolations–the earliest texts simply end with Jesus in the tomb–there is no angel, no empty tomb, no resurrection.

    I bring these up because while I absolutely agree with you that we could use kinder, more tolerant, more radically “human” beings in this world, I wonder if it isn’t in some ways more difficult for Christians to become that sort of person. As you point out, many of the “Jesus” stories illustrate those wonderful values–as do many corollary non-christian myths from the time. But in addition to those lovely stories the Bible–and Christianity–is permeated with the negative values we are seeing wreak so much destruction in our society now–and those values are as fully supported by “scripture” as Jesus’ values.

    Perhaps the answer is for us to change the way we look at the Bible, perhaps to rigorously pursue more accurate translations of the oldest texts, and identify what commentaries crept in and when, the better to determine what we will do with the values they support.

    For myself, I no longer regard the Bible as God’s inerrant word. I believe it’s and important document and has much to teach us, but given the age of the documents, the length of time between the purported events and the earliest written records we have, the the influential role translators, commentators, and culture have played in shaping the writings I don’t know how anyone could consider it authoritative.

    So what do I do? Ironically, I go back to Jesus’ teachings–the same teachings that occur in the earliest iterations of virtually every major world religion: Remember and honor you’re part of something Bigger; and treat others as you’d like to be treated.

  70. Okay people. All the people who post here. Let’s run out into the 315,000,000 people American plaza, tell everyone there that they are a sinner and that they are going to Hell if they do not except Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior (As if they have never heard it 20+ times already since they were born—which they have. I can guarantee you that one.)

    Okay. They have all been asked. Fifty million have accepted. The remaining 255 million said “I understand” and slammed the door in your face.

    So what do you fundies do now?

    “Well, maybe we could get some government power and put pressures on them that force them to come face-to-face with their sin and repent. Like maybe the 55 million could threaten to fire the 255 million from their jobs if they don’t repent. That might work?”

    Yes, and because they outnumber you, they might take there shotguns out, blast all of you straight to Hell, and get you off their backs the quick and easy way.

    You people are so stupid. it is just incredible. I am sorry—but I just had to say it because it is true. If Jesus were here, I am almost certain He would kick every damned one of you in the hind end and tell you to shut up—and then give you a really long lecture that would have most of you weeping and gnashing teeth in the aisles.

    • you are probably right because Christianity is not about selling and telling …. its about living and giving. If you found my post offensive I am sorry. I try to live my own life and not convert people because everyone one of us have to answer for our actions someday.

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  72. Give it up! Either the bible or correct or it’s not. Bowing down to the current PC winds and being a friend of the world is being an enemy of God. (Look it up…it’s in the bible, wiseacre.) So why be a PC Christian that falls like a domino for everything because you want to seem progressive and acceptable by the world? Jesus doesn’t accept everything. He forgives when you change. He still kicked the money changers out of the temple, called even effeminate wrong (though the apostles) 1 Cor 6:9 and said won’t inherit kingdom of God. He called the Syro-Phoenician woman a dog. If you don’t agree then get out and join one of those Atheist or Luciferian churches that are popping up everything because they believe EXACTLY as you do.

  73. Beautifully said! What has caused this is accepting the whole Bible. It is the old testament that has the being they thought was ‘God’ commanding his ‘chosen people’ to commit atrocious acts. Yes indeed, that being commanding them to invade their neighbors, steal their land, rape their women, and slaughter their children. YES it’s TRUE. Read the old testament and see for yourself! Not just what they did, but what the being they thought was ‘God’ commanded them to do! The old testament is vile and evil. It is full of rape, incest, slavery, satanic blood sacrifice, vengeance, war, genocide, and infanticide, all condoned and even commanded by the being they thought was ‘God’ (who could Not possibly have really been God, because really, he sounds more like the Evil ‘Satan’ than the Creator!). THAT is the problem! Throw out the old testament and focus only on the words of Master Jesus, and the world will be a better place. Jesus was all about peace/love/compassion/forgiveness. Focus on JESUS! Throw out the rest of the bible! Quit saying that an evil book is from God! ONLY the parts attributed to Jesus are good and worth following! The REAL purpose of the bible is to TEST us, to see if we can DISCERN good from evil! BOTH are in the bible! Discard the evil and accept only the good!

    • Jesus quoted and referred to the Old Testament, as truth. So if you focus on Jesus and accept His words as truth, then you have to include the Old Testament. Additionally, the Old Testament prophesied the coming Jesus.

      If you throw out the Old Testament, how do you reconcile these things?

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