Maybe I’m Actually Not a Christian After All

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I’ve always thought that I was a Christian.

I’ve simply assumed that since I believed myself to be and strived to be, that this was enough. Though I’ve devoted my days to emulating Jesus and to reflecting his character in the world, this seems to have been a woefully errant path leading me far afield of righteousness.

Over recent years I’ve spent countless hours debating with those who contest my claims of faith; self-professed believers who debate my authenticity, my theology, my conduct, my motivations. They make dire assessments of both my moral worth and my eternal destination, chastising and condemning with great conviction.

It’s difficult to quantify just how much time and energy and mental bandwidth I’ve expended attempting to justify inclusion in their heavily fortified faith fraternity and to prove my personal spirituality valid and genuine in their eyes.

But these days I’m looking at what alleges to be Christianity in my country and I’m now almost certain that I was wrong about myself all along.

Maybe I’m not a Christian after all.

As our American political process unfolds, and as respected and high-profile evangelists and preachers and Christian speakers endorse candidates and take to social media with ever more bigoted, hateful, alarmist claims—and as millions of pledged Jesus followers gleefully rush to celebrate and defend and accompany them in their crusades, I’ve come to find myself estranged; pushed to the furthest periphery of “God’s people”.

And I think it’s my fault. I think I’ve been deceived.

You see, I’d been led to believe that the greatest spiritual aspirations I could ever have, were to love God and to love others as I desired to be loved; fully, sacrificially and without condition. I must have been mistaken, because that doesn’t seem to the prevailing theory ruling the day.

I’ve always thought that caring for the poor and sharing my blessings and walking humbly and showing mercy and seeking peace were all inherent in my calling as a Christian, yet from what I can see I really dropped the ball somewhere along the way, because these are certainly not on trend in the Church I’m seeing on the news and in Christian Universities and out on the campaign trail. I seem to remember the Jesus of the Gospels shunning status and opulence, casting aside power and privilege, bending to serve and feed and heal, but that can’t possibly be right given the headlines.

Apparently we Christians are supposed to fear and resent and vilify those who don’t look or talk or believe or love the way we do, we’re supposed to wield the power and be the bullies and seek retaliation and shut down disagreement. From what I can tell based in what I’m seeing, followers of Jesus were commissioned by him to go and be angry, crass, affluent, racist, misogynistic, homophobic warmongers, known in the world by our incendiary rhetoric, our stockpiled arsenals, our doomsday predictions, and our flag-waving bravado. (Funny, I always thought it was by our love, but that shows you the level of deception I’ve fallen victim to).

I’ve lived with this delusional idea that my personal faith in Jesus should drive me to the marginalized and the hurting, that it should move me to defend those who are alone and invisible and voiceless, that my Christlikeness alone was the mark of my faithfulness. I’d been led to believe that a life marked by goodness and gentleness and peace was the desired yield; the visible, proving fruit of my deepest spiritual convictions—silly me.

I always thought that the Church was meant to be the oddly beautiful, counter-intuitive, set-apart entity that quietly but boldly reflected the image of Jesus to the watching world; that as it mirrored his compassion and kindness and humility and dignity, it would be a beacon to all those seeking the best life possible. Nope.

I used to believe that I was a Christian, simply because I wanted the world to see Jesus when they looked at my life.

I’ve certainly got some learning and some repenting to do.

I once was blind, but now I see.

 

 

359 thoughts on “Maybe I’m Actually Not a Christian After All

          • You are right, not to be a Christian doesn’t automatically make you an atheist. But I still liked reading his point , you don’t have to be convinced there’s a higher power, to be the most loving, caring , helpful, compasionate, sympathetic and appreciative person.

            • But Michelle that does not make a ChristIan. You and a great many others have little or no concept of what a Christian is.The same little or no concept that many display in declaring themselves to be Christian. You have chosen to identify a Christian from a list of qualities the Bible calls Christian Character. While it is true that Christians possess these, they are based on faith in your Lord and Savior Jesus Christmas. The attributes of Christian Character can be displayed by non Christians. What these people lack is the faith in Jesus Christ. No, grasshopper, you are right they are not Christian. Are you?

            • Oh but there is a higher power and he is the trinitarian God Almighty and that’s where love care and all the good things in this dark world come from. Evidence is everywhere, if you open your eyes and ask God to humbly. He just wants you to believe and except his free gift he has for everyone witch Jesus dyeing on the cross for yours, mine , and everyone’s sins. You just realize your a sinner, like when I did. And he will change your life. And not only did he give you, me and everyone a gift, He also gave you, when you die, a place to go away from this mess. God bless you and He loves you more then you or I know.

        • I think they were saying to come to that side since many atheists practice those characteristics everyday without attributing the behavior to a deity. As in “come to our side” where we practice altruism and actually do, through objectivity and critical thought, mimic Jesus message to the world.

      • Sounds like the author has decided to apply logic, reason, and critical thought to his world view. Keep it up Mr. Pavlovitz. You’ll become an agnostic at the very least.

        • No, Tanisha, an agnostic takes no position on either one. And he is not agnostic or atheistic – he is simply being facetious and sarcastic.

          • Many agnostics believe in God and Jesus (or some other variation of dogma) but are disillusioned by organized religion. There is just no other term to distinguish from those who take no position. She is correct, you are doing the religious version of what we jokingly refer to as mansplaining.

            • Um, no. An agnostic is a person who claims nothing can be known about god. You are conflating religion and belief in god. Agnotism says nothing about religion.

              • Agnostic and gnostic is a position on surety. Basically how sure you are your position is correct. It can apply equally to atheism or theism. The majority of atheists think of themselves as agnostic atheists. Example, I don’t believe in god, but I have no absolute certainty that god doesn’t exist. Most theists are gnostic theists. Example, I believe in god, and I am absolutely sure my opinion is correct.
                Just wanted to add some clarity to this argument.

            • Someone who believes in God is not an agnostic. They just don’t subscribe to a particular religion. Agnostics believe there is no way to prove whether a god exists or doesn’t.

          • And, Gary, I think a bit sad for the condition of the world and the brash, boasting, materialistic, selfish, care-only-about-myself loudmouths and even some quiet ones who yell their religion from the pulpit or their homes, or the WhiteHouse, but do not live by truly religious, loving, giving principles that are basic to Christianity and the teachings of Jesus, as well as to Judaism, Islam or any truly religious ideals.

      • I think you’re all right, Ron. 🙂 I’m not expecting John to actually become an atheist, nor am I about to become one myself. But you’ve posted with humour and grace – more posts from all perspectives could do with those characteristics. I’m glad to meet you. 🙂

      • I am an atheist and I try to embody all those values except believing in the need for a labelled religious faith. It offends me when one says, he was a Christian, it should mean more than professing to go to church twice year like some do. I dissociated myself from Christianity when I saw all the actions of so many so-called Christians and the people that they hurt.

      • I’m an atheist who accepts that the historical figure known popularly as Jesus Christ in all probability did exist, was a social activist and preached a particular style of living somewhat at odds with the norms of his day. I’m completely at one with, and endeavour to live my life consistent with, those teachings as best we understand them. That doesn’t make me a Christian. There is only one valid definition of a Christian and that is one who accepted Jesus Christ as his or her personal saviour. Nothing to do with lifestyle, behaviour or values. Pity that.

      • The “Church” is the people; not a building. That’s the first misunderstanding. “Religion” has ruined Christianity.

      • My church has 50 members, who profess faith in Jesus Christ. Other than that…we don’t have any thing in common. Everyone is at different places in their life. poor. rich. sick. addicted. angry. simple. complicated. etc…. I don’t keep a tally. I feel sorry for pastor John as he feels so inadequate! He seems so attached to works. In all my years in the church, Ive never met a hateful, bigoted, homophobe, islamophobe, person. [except for in the liberal church which I left 15 years ago]. Some were even vicious (toward the bible).

        • You must not get around much. And the only place I’ve felt those things strongly was in “Evangelical” churches. Our church would generally be considered rather “liberal,” and we LOVE the Bible – we even love Jesus more!

        • Ummmm I’ve been a Christian all my life and watched churches kick people out for…..being gay… using drugs….being divorced…..sorry….Churches are about the most judgemental places a person can go.

        • Wow, LGMarshall, where do you go to church where you don’t find hateful, bigoted, homophobe, islamophobe, people? I guess your members are all perfect. John is speaking about the people who sit up in church wearing their mask, the leaders who do the same and they mislead. He is speaking of those who with like personality pushed to crucify Jesus. I guess you didn’t get that. He’s speaking about “fake” Christians like the ones who said they love God and went-in and voted for someone who does not know the Lord who has not even been to church. (this person referred to “2” Corinthians instead of calling it 2nd Corinthians). That lets me know he’s not even been around enough in church to hear the word preached. That’s who John is speaking of. I don’t hear the voice of the Lord anywhere near this man so why would so called “Christian Leaders flock to him unless they are NOT who they say they are. Jesus said “my sheep know my voice and follow me.” Why are they following the voice of a stranger?

        • Christians should not be judgemental, a Christian’s job is to Love everyone. However, that does not mean a Christian should approve of immoral behavior.
          Which of these behaviors is wrong, and which of these behaviors is o.k? Pedophilia, Incest, getting drunk, stealing, lying, cheating, lesbianism, White Supremacy, selfishness, greed, socialism, Communism, capitalism, Beasteality, Murder, Vandalism, man-boy love, rape, polygamy, plagiarism? Remember, they can’t be both.

        • You have obviously never set foot in a small town Southern Baptist church. I was no more than six when they sat me in the front pew and preached a whole sermon about me going to hell because I was not baptized. Well I never was baptized and I never will be. I learned right then and there just how horrid Christians can be, using a little girl to preach a sermon of intolerance and hate.

      • AMEN. This guy hasn’t been to ANY of the churches I’ve been involved in over the last twenty-five years. He has constructed a straw man and then cut it down.
        I find this article libelous, actually, and bigoted. It’s even ironically just as judgmental and hateful to a group of people as the author claims the Church today is!

        But this kind of “The Church today is so hateful but look at me I’m OK so folks can like me” junk is rampant in the church today.

        • He might not have attended the congregations you have, but he’s seen what many of the rest of us have seen as we watch any number of representatives of Christianity operating in the world today. A ‘church’ that uses the name of the God as a weapon against those they disapprove of, a ‘church’ that puts its own worldly power above any kind of service or concern for God’s children, a ‘church’ more concerned about what the store clerk says to them than whether she has food for her children. I watched that ‘church’ in action just this week, when a waitress in a favorite restaurant wished us Happy Holidays and my dinner companion aggressively responded with, “Merry Christmas!” as if the server were a child who needed correcting.

      • May I ask you, what church? What he says couldn’t be more true. Quite honestly he’s speaking of many churches that have stopped believing in Gods teaching and taken a new path.

    • If the church has stopped following Jesus’ example, then it is they who have been deceived and who need to take a look at their own ‘christianity’. “Going to church doesn’t make one a Christian any more than sitting in the garage makes one a car.”

    • John…do your own children wake up every morning and struggle to ‘aspire’ to belong in your family? No. And Christians (the repent & believe kind) have no struggle, as they belong to Jesus.

      • The Apostle Paul must not have been a Christian either. As he seems to struggle and exaimine himself constantly and encourage us to do the same:

        Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you–unless, of course, you fail the test? 2nd corthinians 13 5

        http://bible.com/111/rom.7.14-25.niv We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.

      • Kind of miss the point LG. And, yes – all Christians struggle with trying to be faithful disciples. Whether “repent and believe” ones or otherwise. His struggle is against those who claim that he isn’t, based on their own ideas of what it means to be “Christian.”

    • John P. is continually judgmental.

      These pages should focus on Jesus, what he said, what he did…praising God, praising Jesus, keeping our eyes to heaven…encouragement! Who cares what we sinners do? ‘Dog bites Man’. Nothing new there. That John is clever in his cynicism is no great talent. In fact, it’s destructive.

      • Well, since you ask, Jesus appears to have cared rather a lot what we sinners do. Especially how we treat each other.

        31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. 34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ 37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ 40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

        41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’ 44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ 45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ 46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

        That sure looks like caring how we treat each other to me.

        • This is my favorite bible verse. We Need to be kind to each other and to strangers, not just your own friends and family.

        • Think that’s his point here…a little sarcastic or tongue in cheek but the point being that so called Christians aren’t being very Christian when it comes to ‘their’ political sidings.

          • Yes, I agree. It amazes me that so many commenters seemed to have completely missed his point. The point of being born again is that you are forgiven and the result should be that your life should reflect Christ. He is pointing out that the reflection we are seeing is something quite different right now from prominent Christians that have been willing to endorse a man with no character for President. And the Christians who embrace the Republican Party as the “Christian” party are willingly going along with cutting social services and removing the protections put in place that insure us clean air, clean water and food safety. They have also embraced an “Us vs Them” mentality believing they are better and holier than others. This is not in line with the teachings of Jesus.

      • Judging the church as a whole should be done. The disciples did it all the time. And for you to continually read and take offense to John’s posts indicate that something resonates with you. I’m pretty sure most of us feel the same way about your offense… Sorry, not sorry.

        Many of us have experienced this ugliness from various churches. It’s there because people like you ignore it or worse… Contribute to it.

      • So what you’re LG is that if we see the Church sinning (and not standing up against hatred or other sin is sin) we should be quiet because it is devisive to say something about it? That’s not what Jesus’ example against the church of His day tells us. Jesus called them out on it.

    • Many branches of Christianity have turned their backs on the teachings of Christ and embraced the teachings of Paul. I consider them Paulians. They have twisted and distorted the faith so much that it is no longer relevant to all but them. I was once a lay reader and senior warden. I did not leave the church, it left me. I now find spirituality in nature. I help others who are struggling. I support causes that reach out to the forgotten. I no longer need a building or preacher to tell me how I should live. My morals do that.

      • Lee Ann, while this is a rather difficult and involved thing – trying to separate out Jesus from those who wrote about him in the early church, it’s pretty hard to separate Paul from Jesus in Christianity, since he’s the first voice we have of testimony to him. The writers of the Gospels who remember his sayings, etc. begin writing around ten to fifteen years after Paul, and the church has always considered his an authentic voice. It has, however, doubted some of the things said in his name, for instance, in the Pastoral Epistles – generally held to have been written by someone other than Paul. I know I’ll be attacked for this, but this has been the object of discussion in the church for almost two thousand years now. It really isn’t Paul that’s the problem – it’s Christless Christianity: Christians that are both anti-Jesus and anti-Paul, the kind of legalists that both inveighed against. I hope you can find a group of Christians – they are out there – that seek to be as loving and kind as your appear to be. It helps to walk with others.

    • “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” – Matthew 7:13-14

      I can’t count how many times I’ve heard this scripture quoted in church when it came to dealing with people who weren’t Christians. But, I’ve discovered that Christians are not exempt from this. In fact, I believe that Jesus was referring to the religious people of his time, when he made this statement. My, my, my. I guess some things never change.

      • And if you need an analogy to understand conversion as described by the scripture, there is a distinct difference between saying we must be converted and God changes us. It’s like the difference between the seed and a tree. The seed doesn’t need conversion but once it is put in good soil and watered it becomes a tree.

      • agreed. And since we cannot be a Christian through our own family tradition…that proves that there must be a conversion. What does NOT require a conversion is….’belonging to our father, the devil’.

        • Um, there does not seem to be a point to being repetitive.

          Problem I have with this whole mentality is that the seeds never grow into trees. We are just expected to celebrate the seeds, pour our lives into these seeds, tell them being seeds is all they ever need to be, and then get beat up on because we want to see them grow into the tree God designed them to be. I don’t believe there is true faith without a true turn around, i.e. repentance.

      • Jesus said it did, Kathy … He told people constantly to “go and sin no more”. If “doing nice things” is all that mattered, then Jesus died for nothing. Which he didn’t. Atheists “do nice thngs”, I’m sure. Being a Christian is more than “being nice”. It’s “being changed” to walk in Jesus’ footsteps, with the help of The Helper (parakletos), the Holy Spirit. It’s all there, in the Scriptures, as long as you don’t pick and choose what you believe.

    • Theology is simply the study of God. Tell me how you can know the Gospel of Love, with no knowledge of the God who creates and defines it?

    • The Gospel of Love requires no “knowledge of God?” The author is making a false dichotomy peopled by straw men. There is variety among Christians in the “working out your own salvation” but we are united in our acknowledgement of our own sin and selfishness, and our utter dependence on Christ to be our righteousness, to be the one foundation over which all good works that are seen and actually REPAID- miracle of a graceful God who owes us nothing yet promises to repay us for what is done only for Him (Matthew 6) Yes, there are some of the people Pavlovitz talks about, but some of their actions are sin and some of the faults he sees are in the eye of the beholder. As is true about Pavlovitz’s own life- his confidence about how he radiates Christ, with no acknowledgement of his own struggles and failures makes me think he still has to deal with the original repentance that brings us to Jesus in the first place. The title of the article is sardonic, anyway- he doesn’t believe he’s the bogus Christian, he’s accusing those he criticizes of being fake. I’m saddened by church-bashing articles disguised as humilty. Let’s see to the log in our own eyes, brothers.

  1. I think the failing is elsewhere. I think the failing is that you’ve mistaken “love” for “license to sin”. If you truly loved the marginalized, you’d try your best to make them NOT the marginalized- to move them towards a more moral lifestyle.

    God loves the sinner, but hates the sin. The good news is that when we repent of the sin- when we truly ask to convert- even when we try to convert and fail- Divine Mercy is greater than Divine Justice. We may burn in purgatory like gold ore in the the furnace of the smelter, but in the end, the gold shines through, and we will enjoy the Beatific Vision of Heaven. THAT is the message of Christ- and it is as horrific as it is beautiful.

    • Why do Christians keep repeating “Love the sinner, hate the sin” when it’s nowhere to be found in the Bible?

      The message of Christ is that love is the spirit of the law, and that the function of law is for us to scrutinize ourselves and our own behavior, not that of others. Not to “move others towards a more moral lifestyle.” You are not in charge of anyone else’s morality than your own. God will judge you alone and you alone will be held accountable for your actions.

      Maybe you should read the Bible and think about whether Christianity is really for you.

      • Jesus did tell the people to go and sin no more! We have to walk in grace AND truth. Jesus even told one person – I can’t remember the exact situation but to repent lest something worse came upon him. John is doing exactly what he should be doing as a christian except to also teach against sin – well I don’t know if he does that or not. A good example of a christian that walks in truth and grace is Ray Comfort. You can watch his videos on youtube. He loves people – he loves the way Jesus said to love but He speaks the truth. Watch the movie he did called 180. You will see on there a man that was a Nazi, full of hate and foul language – mohawk and tatoos all over. He was ugly and vulgar to Ray but by the end, he was at peace with Ray and agreed to think about what Ray had told him and read his Bible. Ray still keeps up with him but the young man has not yet become a christian. Last Ray heard, the young man was in Greece in the army.

        I personally do not believe that the protestant religion represents Christ well or properly. Most of them are not like Him at all. I hope John continues walking with the Lord Jesus; and walks in grace and truth.

      • Did not Christmas send out his disciples to all of Judea and to the ends of the earth? To love them means not to condemn, but to teach the good news that there is a better way. Not to judge, but to show by our lives and our love there is a better way. This is not acceptance of their ways. It is recognizing they need the Gospel and that we need it too. No where is it “live and let live”. It is show a better way, the way of Jesus. to teach to stop living in sin and to work toward holiness. When we say love the sinner it is to do just that, hate the sin is to reject sinful ways as false. Love the sinner by not living in sin and lead them to a better life as taught by Jesus. Maybe the Bible should be reread, as well as read. Maybe God Bless you and lead you to the truth of his son.

      • But can you be moral and good in God’s sight without sharing with others? Can you know others may not know the path to follow to enter heaven but keep it to yourself so as not to offend? In Matthew 28: 16-20 Jesus told to apostles to go make disciples of all nations. If they had sat around and did not spread the word would they have been worthy? It is really selfish to keep it to yourself, as it is far easier than facing the loss of friendship that is often there when you share. It’s something I struggle with and know I need to improve on.

      • Piers, Jesus tells the women at the well to “sin no more”. Certainly Jesus is showing her love as he speaks with her. But he does not say ” go ahead and continue living with that guy out of wedlock”. It is not my place to tell someone that. However, as a pastor and a Christian speaking with someone who has made the decision to follow Christ, I would share this story and pretty much all that Jesus says about sin, along with what He says about grace, the kingdom of heaven, and his proclamation that He is the messiah. I am to look at my own sin and make choices each day, and as a person called into ministry I am to share with my congregation the word of the Lord and how it has been analyzed, and how it was canonized and passed down from the beginning of Christianity. People do have to decide if they will follow the basic principles that Jesus set as to what we were are to all work toward as Christians. He knows we will all fall short, but we are to attempt to live that kind of life where we desire to do good and to not harm others. I come from a Wesleyan prospective, but we all as Christians should look back to scripture and Christ and what he says on the matter….

    • I may not commit egregious crimes or even tell a white lie, but nonetheless I am a sinner, you are a sinner, we are all sinners. In God’s eyes we are the same. To think that we have any power to “move [someone] toward a more moral lifestyle” is arrogance of the highest order. The murderer, the thief, the adulterer, the pious church-goer. All the same in God’s eyes. And that is why God’s grace is incredible. Truly, our puny human minds cannot fathom it.

      • The word sin simply means missing the mark – from that perspective if we don’t miss the mark that’s good, if we do miss the mark we try again. Sin doesn’t mean bad as most would have it mean. We each are made and born perfect as the expression of God. God does not make junk neither does God make disposable people.

    • Hmmm… while I applaud the intent of the message, I shudder at your choice of wording. By giving us free will, God himself has granted us license to sin. It is up to us on whether we act on the desire to sin or not. You seem to imply it is man’s place to control who sins and how they sin, making some sins more egregious than others (gays are more offensive than divorcees? Christ never spoke on one but spoke often about the other). I am, through God’s grace allowed to sin as often and as frequently as I want. I must, however, understand the consequences of my sin in regards to my spiritual eternity. It is the Christians’ duty to guide and advise, but not to judge on my sin in as much as I won’t judge theirs.

      • I understand your point about free will. But when a person states his holier than thou, or my party is holier than your party because we follow the Bible, then I believe that person or even group, need to look at themselves and reevaluate what they are doing, saying and teaching by their examples.

        Through God’s grace you are allowed to sin as often and as frequently as you want; however, if you know you are sinning and continually repeat the same sin over and over again, and you are walking around proclaiming how Christian you are, then I believe a time has come that you need to face the fact that you truly are not a Christian in spirit, but name only.

      • The idea that man can control sin and make decisions whether to sin along with free will is Palagianism. If a man can control sin, then the sacrifice of Christ is not necessary as Augustine argued against Pelagius. I agree with your point about guiding and advising and we have to choose to move away from those things that make us sin.

    • There is a reason why the tree of sin was in the garden of Eden. It was to give Adam and Eve a choice to sin or not. If he truly wanted them to just do as he wished, he would have not put the tree in the garden in the first place. This is a story of free will.

      Your morals are going to be different than my morals, even though they may be based on the same book. So the same moral lifestyle you are trying to ‘move’ people to is going to be significantly different than someone else’s. You can give someone advice, but what they do with it is between them and their God. Simply put.

      The failure here is not mistaking ‘love’ for ‘license to sin’. The failure here is not recognizing that Father God is letting his children do what they need to do in order to learn and grow, just as we do with our own children.

    • Let us know when you reached perfection….. We all want to know when you no longer needed grace for salvation in each second of your life.

      Sure would be easier to live lijw you. Not needing grace and/or humbly thanking Christ each day for His love and acceptance of the “self” within each individual.

      You are still a sinner every day needing grace.

      We ALL are.

      Christians like John…. Myself…. We never loss sight of that fact. That the Cross is our hope. Not anything of this “self”.

      • I didn’t see John saying anywhere that he didn’t need grace. What he said was that he felt an obligation to live as much as possible according to the principles Jesus taught and demonstrated. That’s never going to be 100%, and so it will always need to be paired with grace… but those who claim that grace means they have no obligation to work on living a Christlike life are failing in genuine repentance. Atonement has multiple parts — this according to the Jewish law Jesus was raised with, and which he explicitly said was not altered in any way. The first is open acknowledgement (to the one wronged); the second is expression of regret; the third is the offering of compensation or amends if that is possible; and the fourth is working hard to avoid repeating the behavior.

        That’s what Jesus used the word “repentance” to mean. It’s not just saying a private mental, “Sorry, God!” and then going blithely about your business enjoying yourself the same ways you always did.

    • God certainly loves the sinner. When the woman taken in adultery was brought before Jesus he said to the accusers, he who is without sin throw the first stone. Apparently that left no one who was without sin. We are told not to judge. I thank God He is the only one who can judge and he will judge righteously.

    • tell the marginalized not to be marginalized?

      Tell the black kid not to wear a hoodie
      Tell the black kids being murdered by the police to keep not breaking the law
      Tell the slave to obey his white master
      Tell the native American to be a march to his death on the trail
      Tell the Jews not to be Jewish
      Tell Muslim families not to live where we drop our drone bombs
      Tell the poor person to work hard
      Tell the single mother to not be walked out on
      Tell the gay person to be straight
      Tell the Sikh not to wear a turban
      Tell the black child he can’t attend an all white school
      Tell the black woman to give up her seat on the bus
      Tell the Refugee to return to their war torn land

      If that’s how your god treats the marginalized, then your god is a monster and your message is HORRIFIC. That is your failing, Theodore.

    • Theodore, where did Christ ever say that to live a marginalized life is to live an immoral lifestyle? That is the “prosperity gospel” of America–that material riches are the mark of God’s favor, and if you are poor, it means you are not right with God. Measuring worth by wealth is NOT something Jesus ever taught or lived.

      I’m not sure exactly what you mean about trying to convert and failing. There is nothing humans can do to become non-human. We will never be sinless. Sinlessness is not the proof of our Christianity–a heart for Christ and for living his love is. Do our children “fail” to remain our children when they make mistakes? Do we disown them? Do we try to torture the sinful nature out of them? I certainly hope not.

      We are children of God by God’s choice and grace. We either accept that or we don’t. He doesn’t force his grace on us. Nor does he remove it from us when we are less Christ-like than he would wish. But we ARE expected to keep trying and to bear the fruit of our family tree.

      However, if a person is not willing to make a consistent effort to be more Christ-like and to follow his teachings, or when he tries to change Christ to fit his own desires and goals and personality rather than the other way around, then there is a problem–not with the true vine, but with our graft.

    • You seem to think the marginalized are such because of a lack of moral life? I don’t think you understand what marginalized means. It has nothing to do with lifestyle choices.

      The message of Christ is that God is for human flourishing and wants that in the here and now. Not just in some ever after. God can and does redeem now.

    • This whole thing of God loves the sinner, but hates the sin – is a man made construct. I’ve never read that in the Scriptures.

  2. Thank you John. Permission to call you brother? Because I would really like to know that I have a brother who believes that spiritual maturity will look like Jesus

  3. Tears in my heart … your words speak such truth that my heart is warmed … and … my faith in the possible benevolence of our humanity is obviated. Thank you John. I am going to re-blog your very important message. The world needs to read your words … over and over and over.

  4. Being a Christ follower is often counter to being a christian (lower case intentional). In the 1930’s something called the German Christian Church. It was a blend of Nationalism and hatred. It was endorsed by and in turn it endorses Herr Hitler and his National Socialist (Nazi) Party. Trump especially, and others with their words of hatred and fear mongering wrapped in the American flag and supposedly the Bible sound an awful lot like Hitler… We are careening down a very slippery slope that is looking like Germany in the 1930’s. If we don’t watch it, there will be pastors and others authoring a new version of The Theological Declaration of Barmen (Barth, Bonhoeffer, and others were a part of the team) in response to the kidnapping of the evangelical church by politicians spewing venom, lies, and hatred!

  5. Reblogged this on darren's thinking and commented:
    “I’ve always had this delusional idea that my personal faith in Jesus should drive me to the marginalized and the hurting, that it should move me to defend those who are alone and invisible and voiceless, that my Christlikeness alone was the mark of my faithfulness. I’d been led to believe that a life marked by goodness and gentleness and peace was the desired yield; the visible, proving fruit of my deepest spiritual convictions—silly me. … Apparently we Christians are supposed to fear and resent and vilify those who don’t look or talk or believe or love the way we do, we’re supposed to wield the power and be the bullies and seek retaliation and shut down disagreement. From what I can tell based in what I’m seeing, followers of Jesus were commissioned by him to go and be angry, crass, affluent, racist, misogynistic, homophobic warmongers, known in the world by our incendiary rhetoric, our stockpiled arsenals, our doomsday predictions, and our flag-waving bravado.”

  6. I wonder how Jesus felt with the money changers. There he was in the Temple, trying to love everyone, but so.incredibly.angry at how they were deceiving others *and themselves. Maybe they wanted relationship with God, but had been misled?

    I share your frustration, and, like you, I also recognize that I am part of the problem. It’s very hard for me to love those who hate my friends.

    • Wasn’t Jesus anger at the money changers because they were twisting Gods laws for their own ends (to make a profit)?
      Not because they were lost, but because they knew, or should have known exactly what they were doing.
      The money lenders in this case, would be the ones who twist and distort Christianity to manipulate through hysteria.

  7. Ah thank you so much for your blog and sharing your thoughts. It’s just so amazing to come here, read, and remind myself that I’m not the only one and I’m not odd!

    Keep it up. It’s influenced the continuation of my journey with Christ for the better x

  8. Heartily concur, John! Well said! I have thought the same myself and am ashamed to be called a Christian with what Christianity today is portraying with all its hate and bigotedness. But follow Jesus? Yes! With all my heart.

  9. John,
    Your post reminds me of Mark Twain’s poem, “War Prayer.” If you haven’t read it lately, I would highly suggest it. I’d love to know your thoughts on it.

    Keep asking your questions. Keep your light shining.

  10. I love the irony of your proposition that you must have been deceived.
    The silly unfounded rhetoric, actions and ridiculous teaching of the so called “christian” community is so out of focus compared to the simple message that Jesus taught it is amazing that vast numbers of people are so gullible.
    The over use of many terms referring to spiritual walk have lost the sacred meaning they were meant to have. Even the name God is so tattered by all types of claims and counter claims that it has become offensive. The words church and christian are completely worn out, putting people in a box and sending them to a bad place if they attempt to get out of that box.
    Shame on all the zealots spewing their brand of “go our way or go to hell”. Shame on them that that haven’t begun to understand Love. Shame on them that think they alone have a handle on the “truth”. Shame on them for wrecking millions of lives by their homophobic and biased teaching.
    The good thing about all that is a new reformation or epoch is coming to turn all the religious rubbish into the diamonds that we the the people are, (all People),- the essence, hands, eyes and feet of God. That is the day when all will get it that all are equal, all deserving, all part of that which we call God, Universe, Spirit or whatever name that means Love.

  11. The more I step back and look at the stories of the bible objectively, and the more I try to fit the pieces of the puzzle together in a way that relates to my own personal experience of faith, God, & love, with what the bible says of faith, God and love, the more distant, strange and incomprehensible it becomes. It drives me mad trying to make sense of those who push the side of Christianity/religion that is in such stark contrast to my loving nature. I too can no longer accept the label.
    Welcome to the Bright Side, Mr. Pavlovitz. You are so welcome here.

  12. Jesus asks: “Christian, Christian, why are you politicizing me?” That’s a paraphrase from Brian Zahnd’s newest book, and it fits nicely with the truth of this post. What I’m seeing played out in our country right now looks nothing like the life that the Jesus of the Gospels left for us to emulate. Thank you, JP.

  13. No, silly you!
    Well done good and faithful servant, well done indeed! Now……..give more and step into His rest. Be you, because your not Jesus, and your not Christ, be you John in Christ and make no apologies.
    Your not only an honorable christian, (christlike), you are graduating into being a True disciple of Jesus. All because of your faith and obedience.
    God empties us out, and when nothing makes sense when we’ve done all that we know to do in giving of ourselves, He shows us, now Follow Me.
    I see Him in your Words and I felt them.
    Make known to you this day that the Kingdom of God has come unto you.
    Keep going, set yourself to Know and find God working in the midst and Join Him. This is where the supernatural power steps in making up for your weaknesses as He longs to see you to impart a spiritual gift to you, more of Him.
    Do not follow anyone but Jesus, lean not on your on understanding and give all you can and sell all you can away within by sowing in love, just as you have been faithful in doing. You will be rewarded.
    Rejoice, you will shepherd many.

  14. John, I have been so discouraged. I was taught–by parents and the church and Jesus’ actions–that “they will know we are Christians by our LOVE” above all else–above having the “right” beliefs and certainly above “hating sin.” I am appalled by how Americans have twisted and distorted Christianity to be ugly and hateful. I know I can’t afford to be discouraged and neither can my husband. He is a pastor.

  15. I agree with most of what you have said. What you are doing is so right; but we do have to speak truth. Jesus paid the debt for our sin. He came to break the power of sin in our lives. He came to help us to live victorious lives – to be conformed to His image. Part of what Jesus did was to tell them to repent and to follow HIm. He never told anyone – keep sinning. He said go and sin no more. He helps us and He told us to go tell the world this message – the gospel which is love and repenting.
    A good example of a christian that walks in truth and grace is Ray Comfort. You can watch his videos on youtube. He loves people – he loves people the way Jesus said to love but He speaks the truth. Watch the movie he did called 180. You will see on there a man that was a Nazi, full of hate and foul language – mohawk and tatoos all over. He was ugly and vulgar to Ray but by the end, he was at peace with Ray and agreed to think about what Ray had told him and read his Bible. Ray still keeps up with him but the young man has not yet become a christian. Last Ray heard, the young man was in Greece in the army.

    In 2 Tim 2, the Lord tells us that as good soldiers of Jesus Christ we are not concerned with the affairs of this life but how we can please our master – Him. I don’t see Jesus being concerned about the Jews oppression by the Romans. Rather, He said that he came to seek and to save the lost and He told us to do the same.

    • The problem, though, isn’t whether we should speak truth–it’s this notion that we need to use the government to legislate morality in this perceived attempt to “take back our country”. Using the government isn’t speaking truth, it’s Dominionist, and our personal version of Sharia law. It mocks and goes directly against the gospel. Where we personally have influence as ministers of reconciliation is where we were meant to speak truth–only to those lives we have clout in.

      What’s more, there is little or no scriptural truth whatsoever in politics where most Christians seem to flock after their favorite author or preacher/speaker gives endorsement. I’ve had my very salvation called into question when someone finds out I’m left-leaning…when my convictions involve social justice and well-being. Meanwhile I’ve heard my right-leaning friends claim convictions from the very same bible I read, but overlook so many moral issues on that side in order to focus on winning a culture war over a couple of unimportant social issues. At one point, probably a decade or two back, it seemed overwhelmingly correct to vote conservative, but over time other things slipped in that we have failed to examine, and out of pride (and all the damning rhetoric toward liberals over the years) can’t possibly imagine considering voting any other way. We’ve idolized fundamentalism to the point that insistence on “speaking the truth” really means “divine excuse to wage culture war” for a lot of people.

  16. I was recently blessed by the Holy Spirit and I saw things in this world with such clarity and conviction. God spoke to me and reminded me of Jesus. He wispered to me that I must reach out and remind everyone about Jesus and His commands … most of all, with great urgency. Sounds like something that all ‘Christians’ should do right? I am new in the Way by almost 2 months. No preacher or ‘Christian’ approached me. I am a woman married to another woman and I have 2 beautiful children. I’ve been living a life of self-harm (I just recently confessed this to my wife) for almost my entire life and yet, I was chosen on a snowy and very windy night in early December 2015 while I was having a smoke!!! In that moment I felt a need to search for God in my heart and I thought that I could feel Him so I cried hard (no-one around) and repented my sins and asked for mercy and forgiveness and I asked that I am willing to give my life entirely to Him (it felt like a moment of desperation on my part but in all sincerity). The wind swirled around me and the snow was coming in side ways and it did not touch me. God spoke to me with such clarity and the Holy Spirit (I’m sure it was the Holy Spirit…the breath of God Himself) came on me. It was gentle and uplifting. I was filled with such joy and peace that I’ve never ever ever felt anything of the sort nor did I ever think that it was possible. I was led to read the Word of God…so…I bought myself a bible two weeks after Christmas. I’ve been having dreams and visions and no sooner that I receive them, I go straight to the Bible and read and bam! There it is. Jesus wants us to live our lives showing patience, love, compassion, kindness, forgiveness, and to share His words with everyone around us…to not be afraid of being embarrassed and to be ready to give up everything that is earthly if He calls for it. In the past couple of months, I’ve been called to read the Bible twice (the first time around I read from a friend’s Bible) and I have prayed for those who seek the Truth and for those who are just plain ol’ lost. I am a stay at home mother who homeschools my kids and I do not have much chance of getting out of the house (and I’ve been liking it this way because I really really didn’t want to deal with people). Yet God told me to spread the Word with urgency…that He is coming soon. So last night I spoke with someone that I haven’t talked with in a good handful of years because her life was too strange for me. I chose to weed her out of my life but now she’s back! The a verse came to me and so I looked it up when it “appeared” on Facebook through a game: “Do not be afraid, but speak, and do not keep silent; for I am with you, and no one will attack you or hurt you” (from Acts 18: parts of verse 9 and verse 10 in the Tyndale new King James Version Life Application Study Bible). I was called to write when I had the “wind experience” and so I did. Then I was called to write to churches and I chuckled to myself because I am NOT a writer and besides, why would anyone listen to a non-Christian-stay-at-home-lesbian-mother-and-wife??? I don’t question God’s authority. My job is to “wake” people up…not to preach or heal (though God’s will be done). John, you are to stay strong in God through Jesus. Don’t be swayed by the secular world. Pray earnestly for God’s breath to be placed on you and ask for the Comforter to be with you. Arm yourself with God’s Truth and your faith and righteousness in God. Don’t dwell on your own understanding. The things of this world are exactly that…things of this world. Leave to the world what belongs to the world and give to God what belongs to God. I wish I could have a sit-down and chat with you. That would be nice. Perhaps we could email sincerely sometime.

      • Thank you Toni. So much has happened as of late that I truly thought that I was maybe loosing my marbles. But I’ve been praying for strength and then “thoughts” come into my head and so I check with the Bible and then I know that it’s from God (plus the fact that I don’t quite feel ‘myself’ at those times…that God really is there). I was introduced to God briefly when a family took me off the streets when I was a kid and so I had some prior knowledge of God…but nothing like this. As of late, I have been searching for people that are ‘Christians’ but people like me are welcomed more if the other party thinks that they can “save” me rather than see me as a servant of God just like them. I thank you for your prayers. Please pray for all who seek the Truth and those that just haven’t found the way yet. Pray also for all of God’s children who are slipping and are being decieved. God works in amazing ways. Someone must have prayed for me because He came to me when I least expected it!!! I love you in Christ.

  17. Well said. I reject the Christian label as it has been taken over by the religious bullies, our modern day pharisees. I am spiritual However. I follow the steps of Jesus as best I can. He is love embodied. My God is a loving God, not the wrathful of the Christians.

    • Rather than call myself a Christian anymore, I began calling myself a Follower of Christ or, a Practical or Progressive Christian. I don’t want to be connected with the hate from the Right Wing ‘Christians’.

  18. I hope you are being facetious. I see Christ in you, more than any one I know. I feel the same way you do about Christianity today and I find it overwhelming and depressing. Reading your blogs and the comments of people that agree with us, gives me hope. I think a lot Christians make Christianity to complicated with their rules and beliefs. Some people think God is going to judge America because of gay marriage. I believe if He judges America, it will be for the reasons you stated in this blog.

    • When conservatives say God is going to judge America because of gay marriage, I have to wonder where God was when the first Christians here were slaughtering the Indigenous Peoples, stealing their land and enslaving and raping kidnapped Africans, auctioning them off and breeding them like livestock and working them like animals. If God hasn’t judged America for those most horrible sins, I very much doubt he’s concerned about gay marriage.

  19. Karlasa…. Do.you know the TRUE SIN of Garden of EDEN was: The lack of gratifulness that Adam and EVE showed by eating the apple.

    That God’s provision was insulted with ungratefulness by their actions.

    I would rather always fall on side of grace. Appreciation. Acceptance. Humble Thanksgiving. Than ever base mine or anyone else’s Faith in n actions.

    It was not Adam and Eve actions. It was the wrong heart that caused the fall.

  20. well if nothing else you’re certainly making quite a few people think. or appear to think. i think the “deceived” are just emoting out of fear and rage but who knows? i appreciate seeing the debate

  21. A real hurdle here is to find a way to love these extremist, damning “Christians” as Christ commands us to love everyone. Because we may see them as our enemies or misguided in the sense that Jesus saw the rabbis in the temple, just how are we to approach them? The rabbis, priests and money changers proclaimed themselves to be holy men doing God’s work, but Jesus not only criticized their hollowness, but went into the temple and overthrew the tables of those who were fouling the spirit of a holy place. Did he love those high priests and money changers? Is that how he showed his love? Do we follow suit? It would be as hard to love these extremist Christians as anyone, if love is the only way. Just how does one do go about doing that?

    • Rebuke them publicly. Speak out against them publicly as Jesus did. Stand in the gap in the name of Jesus and say: “None Shall Pass.” Work against them in our society and culture. Do your best to destroy and unravel anything they try to build.in this world so that it comes to nothing. Talk about Jesus a lot while you are doing it.

      My blog might be helpful to you:

      https://faith17983.wordpress.com/

    • jjmcmillin I think you are showing love because you ask these questions and you care. Before Jesus took the action he did, in the temple, and before he called out the Pharisees for their hypocrisy He demonstrated tremendous patience and grace by answering their questions. And, as the story goes, on the cross, he said ‘forgive them for they know not what they do.’ We try the best we can, but sometimes people are being intentionally stubborn and provocative. Knowing the difference and dealing with each person according to grace is a challenge. So we continue to try, because, we care about everyone.

  22. While I kind of agree with you on the fact that there are some political “Christians” who are supporting things they ought not to be supporting, your article seems to focus only on striving to be a Christian, but nothing on the fact that all the striving in the world won’t make someone a Christian if they haven’t repented of their sins and put their faith in Jesus Christ for their salvation. Just as Donald Trump cannot be a Christian since he has never repented, neither can someone who is trying to emulate Jesus.

  23. John, I thought of you as I read this again today. One of my favorite prayers…
    “My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it. Therefore will I trust you always, though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.”———-Thomas Merton

  24. John I sympathise with your frustration (and as a Brit I know you’re being ironic!). The gulf between a Christian and a person who calls themselves one but lets their love for humankind wither away, is widening radically. I’m sure that’s why Jesus said so many would call him ‘Lord, Lord!’ but he wouldn’t answer them. Praying for peace and assurance and comfort for you, brother X

  25. You’re reading my mind.. It must be a devil thing.. Raised to be a Christian, but it seems someone else bought the company. I missed it.. Must have slept in that day. They say “the faith” under goes major changes every five hundred years or so… It must have changed and left me behind. Frankly I prefer to be left behind!!!!

    • I agree. If Heaven is going to be populated by people like Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, Bob Jones, and Kenneth Copeland—I’ll stay behind and nurse my Coca-Cola, burger, and fries.

  26. John, you testify to the truth. As I look at the circus which the United States appears to be becoming, and as I observe the religious scene in South Korea (where I live), it seems to me that the majority of people who claim the title ‘Christian’ would be more accurately called ‘Christendomites’. They’re in love with the idea of a Christian Empire, or of being the power which dictates what the Empire does. I increasingly question, though, how much they’re following the Christ.

    Keep the faith.

  27. hi John. Here’s where you really messed up. You decided to follow “Jesus of Nazareth.” Instead, you were supposed to have followed “Jesus of America,” the new All-American Jesus created by people like Bob Jones I and other such fundie miscreants. It’s not too late to repent though. You can still go buy an automatic weapon, purchase plenty of ammunition, and go randomly kill some negroes, poor people, sick people, Mexicans, hungry people, liberals, Democrats, gay people, and Mormons. That would demonstrate that you are finally on the right side of the “Jesus of America.” However, as your friend, I would recommend against it because the Jesus of Nazareth that we follow would not approve, and it would be illegal.

    Good piece of sarcastic wit.

  28. As an evangelical Christian, I am appalled by what is playing out in front of me in the political arena. Maybe, just maybe, it’s time to simply be “Christ followers”, because if what is being endorsed is Christian, I want no part.

  29. There goes everyone believing only their God is the right God once again.
    As if you are somehow superior to others. As if you were given a birthright to be born in a country that believes in Jesus and not Allah or Buddha. Oh yes….YOU are special. Not those children in Syria…..but YOU. Not the abused women of Iran….but YOU. Not the young African American men forced to fight a Neverending war….but YOU.
    Yes YOU are the chosen.
    The elite.
    The forgiven.
    YOU are the only one in the right.

    It is the ego of the religious fanatic that will destroy our world.
    You are all so narcissistic and you can’t even see it. You are so far gone down this personal hell of judging others and fear that you refuse to face realities other than your own.

    It isn’t the non-religous that are blind…

    • We don’t judge, but rather we hold accountable. If a brother or sister in Christ is in sin and we as their brother or sister in Christ confront them and make known to them their wrong doing we are holding them accountable just as the Lord commands us. Judgement is strictly left to the Lord. We do not claim to be superior to others as you suggest. We DO however, claim our God superior than any other, for our God yet lives and no other God does. Where our God breathes life, others are still, where our God speaks to us and comforts us, others are silent and their touch unknown. A heart of stone is cold and barren, a heart of flesh is warm and filled with life.

  30. Just like some people see a jihadist in every Muslim, many people think that all Christians are like the ones identified in this article. Modern day pharisees, hypocrites, whited sepulchres are too often the loudest and most attention-getting voices. We cannot out yell them, so we must persevere with what we know in our hearts is right. Their hearts have been hardened.

  31. you mentioned a lot of I thought this, I did that, its not about us and what we do for Jesus. we have o surrender ourselves to him and allow him to use us the way HE PLEASES. have Faith in God, renew your mind concentrate on things above because people can’t save your soul and you will not satisfy most. reading the bible, walking in truth, following God way, turning from your wicked ways will let you know who you are if you do these things

    • Lyall. A lot of people don’t get a lot of things around here—and I’d bet you an orange Tootsie Roll Pop that 90 percent of them could not point to Iowa on an unlabeled map of the United States.

  32. What the hell kind of Christians you talking to? I’ve been a Christian as long as I can remember. I’ve met self-righteous Christians before. But the only time I’ve ever seen Christians like the ones you describe, they’ve been on television. My walk is much like yours. I believe that salvation is in Christ alone, that if you call on his name you will be saved. I won’t play their games if you won’t.

  33. This entire comment thread is a perfect example of why theology is desperately necessary! Can we do some actual research, define some of the terminology we are all throwing around like hand grenades (simple, easy concepts like “God” and “love” and “sin” and “salvation”), and then, even if our definitions differ – or ESPECIALLY if our definitions differ! – come back and have a REAL discussion??

    • Buttwheat say: “Hotay!!!”

      The big question is—and always has been: Is John Pavlovitz a Christian? If you want to make it more general: How do you define “Christian” and who is a Christian? Let’s start with a definition from the Merriam-Webster Dictionary:

      Christian

      1: a. One who professes a belief in the teachings of Jesus Christ

      b. b (1) : disciple 2 (2) : a member of one of the Churches of Christ separating from the Disciples of Christ in 1906 (3) : a member of the Christian denomination having part in the union of the United Church of Christ concluded in 1961.

      2 the hero in Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress.

      • You can read the Wikipedia definition here:

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian

        Please note that the number of Christians in the world is expected to rise to 3 billion by 2050, and as noted in the Wikipedia article, even Christians define the word “Christian” in different ways based on denominational, sectal, etc. differences. Who is right? I betcha each one would claim that it is right and the others are wrong.

      • You can’t use a simple definition from the dictionary or a source as invalid as wikipedia to define a true christian. My history teacher back in my high school days fully believes that to be a Christian you simply fill out a membership card and join a church, in her words “BOOM! Christian”. That is so far from the truth that her saying that angered me. (For the sake of others, being taught such trash) Christian is a term that first derived in the early church given by the romans in Antioch. It means, little Christ in greek or little anointed ones in hebrew. Does that tell us anything about who Christ is? not really, it simply implies that we try our best to be like Christ. Now how does one truly become like Christ? You don’t, you can’t and you never will. That is not the mission statement of Christianity. We do not say that to receive grace that you must be exactly like Christ and do no evil, but only good deeds and by your good deeds receive grace. No, wrong! We preach that in order to know Christ you must first humble yourself and realize that you are a sinner followed by confession. You can acknowledge that you’re a bad person all you want, but until you confess with your mouth and believe in your heart that Jesus is Lord and truly is who he says he is, you will never know Christ. The be a Christian is to be at opposition with the world. If you truly want to be a Christian, prepare to be called everything we are called. Bigots, hypocrites, homophobes, warmongers etc. You must die of this world in a sense, to truly be Christian.

          • What I gathered from that is that you truly don’t understand what it means to be a Christian. You’ve fallen victim to the lies of the world and believe that the teachings of God need to be rearrange and fitted into a new format to be “True”. You’re claiming that conservative Christians are not true christians and believe lies that we mistreat others solely due to political beliefs. John 15:18 starts a lesson from Jesus teaching that the world is going to hate us. The liberal “Christian tries to take the teachings of the world and the teachings of Jesus and combine them. You simply can’t do that, you’re either against the world and a friend of Jesus or you’re for the world and in opposition to Jesus. That’s where the man in this blog goes wrong. He believes that since Christians are against the world that they are judgemental, hypocritical, foolish people. In reality, He is a fool for believing in the world’s teachings of “morality” is allowing a women to kill a baby on the premise of “it’s her choice” moral? Of course not! That’s the world’s teaching however. You can’t be both for the world and for God, you’re one or the other period.

    • Emilie, you said “Can we do some actual research, define some of the terminology we are all throwing around like hand grenades (simple, easy concepts like “God” and “love” and “sin” and “salvation”), and then, even if our definitions differ – or ESPECIALLY if our definitions differ! – come back and have a REAL discussion??”
      I thoroughly enjoy the type of discussion you are advocating, but on a blog such as this, any such discussion is going to rapidly devolve into an old-fashioned flame war, complete with incendiary grenades. You called “God” a simple, easy concept. The further I travel down this road called Life, with “Faith” as my guide, the more I have to disagree (along with billions of others now and in the past). He famously described Himself as “I am”. Simple, yes– it’s two words. But easy? No way. No matter how much we might contemplate “God”, we will never have the full picture in this life. Any “god” must be so far removed from the human experience as to be incomprehensible in its entirety or it is no longer a god. As soon as I start to define anything, I limit it and “God” is limitless, thus undefinable. But I’ve seen glimpses, tiny bits of God, and I try to add to my ever incomplete understanding. I see it as part of the Mystery that is God. Love, sin and salvation are also so abstract that coming to an absolutely complete definition is all but impossible. Trying to pin down a definition and codify these things is why there are about 32,000 denominations of “Christians”.

  34. The most Christ-like politician we’ve had in my lifetime was Jimmy Carter. He was vilified by the GOP of his time, and I can only assume that he doesn’t get much, if any, mention on the Roger Ailes network.

    • The GOP hated jimmy Carter because he refused to use our military to reduce Iran to a burned out cinder after it took our American embassy personnel hostage. The GOP always conveniently forgets to mention that this hostage taking occurred in the depths of the Cold War and that Iran shared a long border with the Soviet Union. Any such massive American action taken so close to the Soviet border would have almost certainly triggered World War III and an all out nuclear weapons exchange between the United States and Soviet Union—and nearly every person posting here on John’s blog would be dead right now. Everyone here owes their life and breath to Jimmy Carter’s restraint. Just sayin’.

  35. Jesus led the way: “Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. (Matthew 5: 43 – 45 KJV)

    • Please also note that, depending on one’s circumstances, the sun and rain can be perceived as either good or evil. To the man being flooded, rain is evil. To the man starving, rain for his crops is good. A lot of people miss that.

  36. I find it interesting that whenever a Christian seriously tries to be like Jesus, the more self-righteously “religious” sort of Christians tell him/her “You’re not really a Christian.” Whenever this happens, please know that this is the sure sign that you’re on a good, healthy, and Christlike path.

    • …who just happens to follow and disciple after “Jesus of Nazareth” and not “Jesus of America.”

      “Jesus of America” is the one Ted Cruz follows and the one Donald Trump is just now being introduced to for the first time. However, despite all the nutty things he is saying and the nutty way he is acting just to “woo” the fundie morons that makeup the current GOP base—and Trump does indeed know that they are morons—I strongly suspect that the real Donald Trump who goes home to his wife and kids behind closed doors is a whole lot closer to “Jesus of Nazareth” in his real thinking than he is to “Jesus of America.” If he becomes the GOP nominee, his public tune will moderate substantially and will better reflect that of moderate Republicans, moderate Democrats, and moderate independents. I am not a Trump supporter in saying that. I am just saying that there is a lot more depth (much of it truly Christian) to “The Donald” than all this Hitlerian bitching he is doing just to put on an enticing show for that large block of GOP morons who are running dog lackeys for the extremist right that now makes up most of the GOP. He’s got all the fools fooled—because—well—they are so easily fooled.

      • Nope, sorry. Trump does not get a pass and an assumption that he isn’t really that bad if he is willing to whip up outrage against innocent populations for political gain. I am not a Jeb Bush supporter, but last night he made the point that words matter. That inflammatory language that Trump uses can — and actually has — resulted in people getting hurt. That he would hijack Christianity and at the same time peddle hate to win elected office is horrible. In my eyes, his hypocrisy makes him *worse* than if he actually believed it.

  37. Great post John.

    What I see is a conflation of Christianity and conservative tribalism. To be in this tribe, you have to espouse certain political and social views. If you do not, then, by definition, you are not a good Christian. From a political perspective, you need not necessarily behave in a Christian way to be embraced by the tribe, just as long as your political views are suitable.

    And the converse is also true. So for example, let’s say that in your opinion the current president has done a pretty good job.

    Ostensibly, this view has nothing to do with religion.

    But from a tribal perspective, this is heresy. In their view, your Christianity would be suspect.

    • You just hit the bullseye of the target “dead on.”

      Moreover, a significant part of that “conservative tribalism” that you mention is a tightly held backwoods southern culture derived from the prejudices of their Scots-Irish ancestors and a culturally inherited bitterness over the loss of the American Civil War and the freeing of the American negro in 1865 and 1965. Uncle Sam took away their plantation aristocracy, took away their slaves, and ever since 1963 Uncle Sam has been trying to destroy their home-made religion, which is the last leg on the three-legged milking stool of the Old South that must be destroyed to finally make the American South truly a part of the United States of America once and for all future time. Just sayin’.

      If I had a leather-soled dress shoe, I would take it off, pound it hard on my podium, and say, “All your children will grow up under Episcopalianism!!!” (Apologies to Niki Khrushchev).

      Please see my new post about the fundie children on my blog at:

      https://faith17983.wordpress.com/

  38. Organised religion is poison. More people have been murdered and tortured in the name of God than for anything else. God is not the problem, humanity’s interaction with Him is. Just look at the comments here — nitpicking about fatuous, frivolous definitions and regurgitating mediocre religious quotes about God, Jesus and Christianity. Just pathetic.

  39. I understand the point he’s making, but I don’t know what Pavlovitz is talking about. (That seems a little contradictory but it’s not.)

    Is he upset that people who claim to be Christians want secure borders? Is he confused that Christians call homosexuality sin like God does? Does his “Christian” charity demand we take in thousands upon thousands of unvetted Muslim “refugees?” Does Christianity require us to turn the other cheek to butchers who behead children?

    Far from brilliant, this piece seems more like a secular humanist’s screed found in the Huffington Post or on Salon.

    To his mind what makes one an “angry, crass, affluent, rascist, misogynistic, homophobic warmonger?” I thought he was describing Trump until he added “homophobic” and “warmonger.” Then, for good measure, he adds “known in the world by our incendiary rhetoric, our stockpiled arsenals, our doomsday predictions, and our flag-waving bravado.” So now strong national defense (Romans 13) and patriotism are un-Christlike?

    I think perhaps Pavlovitz has fallen victim to deception, but not the faux deception he sarcastically mentions, but a real liberal theological, secular humanist one.

    • The problem I have is that many who feel this way tend also to be people who don’t want people like myself (6’2″ melanin-enhanced female) around – As a black woman, I find it hard to countenance discrimination against anyone

      • Your argument is a genetic fallacy or a fallacy of guilt by association. What I said is either true or it’seems not on its own merit regardless of where it comes from or whother is associated with it.

        Like many other arguments that play the phony race card, your argument does not address my argument on its merits. You simply want to win the argument by appealing to people’s baser emotions to generate animus toward me in order for them to reject my assertions.

        Shame on you for such laziness.

        • 1. When you’ve been SPIT ON, called NIGGER, THREATENED BODILY, HAD PEOPLE HATE YOU, then I think “Dog Tags”, ____you_____ can have something to say about RACE – ______ I _____ HAVE HAD ALL OF THOSE AND________________MORE________________ DONE to me

          2. ” We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, _____________promote the general Welfare________________, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.” – Preamble to the Constitution of the United States of America

          THAT IS ___WHY___ (and by the way, I _____DO____ GIVE QUITE A BIT OF MY ____OWN___ MONEY TO OTHERS – JUST ASK MY ________TAX PREPARER_____) we should be willing to contribute to THE COMMON GOOD

      • Your argument is a genetic fallacy or a fallacy of guilt by association. What I said is either true or it’s not on its own merit regardless of where it comes from or whother is associated with it.

        Like many other arguments that play the phony race card, your argument does not address my argument on its merits. You simply want to win the argument by appealing to people’s baser emotions to generate animus toward me in order for them to reject my assertions.

        Shame on you for such laziness.

  40. One – after years of feeling condemned, tormented by nightmares about Hell, trying to follow all the doctrines, dogma, rules and regulations – I finally realized that it comes down to ___two things___: You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind and soul…and…You shall love your neighbor as yourself – BAM!

    Two – I really would like someone to explain to me why it is so horrible, awful and “socialist” to help the poor, elderly, children, disabled, homeless and veterans? Why all the “Lazy Moochers Who Want Free Stuff” talk (a good deal of which comes from people who say they follow the Lord Jesus Christ)? I work 12-18 hour days; I work nights, weekends and holidays – because that is the nature of the business in Information Technology (I am a Database Administrator and A 1958 Baby – if I don’t, some 20-year-old will). I pay 28% in Federal Taxes and 10% in state taxes – so I am NO “Lazy Moocher”…but I am HAPPY to see my tax dollars go to WIC, housing, education, welfare, etc because as a HUMAN BEING, I think it is important to help other HUMAN BEINGS because the VAST MAJORITY of us are one illness, one job loss, one accident, one unforeseen circumstance away from poverty

    I guess I’m not a ‘Christian’, either….my first husband (a better human being than I in many ways), uses the term ‘Christoid’, which seems apt…

    • Would you mind if I reposted this with credit to you? You have said it so well! I’m disabled and cannot work, probably will never be able to work again. But, like you, when I did work, I worked 70-80 hours a week (though at factory jobs mostly) to raise my two kids and keep a roof over their heads, and bread on the table. Now I’m trying to exist on SSDI and $16/month in food stamps, which is the lowest amount they can give in my state. Many of the elderly folks I live with in this apartment complex for the elderly and disabled have also had their food stamps slashed to $16/month beginning last January. I’m sick of conservative ‘Christians’ cutting benefits to the poor and the working poor, the sick and disabled, mothers and children, and, for God’s sake, our VETERANS!!! I paid into Social Security all of my working life since I was fourteen. My SSDI is not a gift or a dole. I earned it. I’m so furious that this is how my country treats me after working my whole life and, now that I need help, they want to slash Social Security and Medicare.

    • The issue is NOT about helping the poor. The poor are being helped. Conservative Christians are far more generous than bleeding heart socialists when it comes to helping the poor. The issue is whether you can use the coercive power of government to force people to be charitable. That has ALWAYS been the issue. Forcible confiscation of someone’s wealth to redistribute to others is not charity. IT IS THEFT. That you use a government gun to steal people’s wealth does not justify it. Be generous with your own money, not your neighbors. It is not loving to your neighbor to force him to be charitable. Jesus told the rich young ruler’s to “Take all that YOU have and give it to the poor.” Jesus did not tell the disciples “Take all that HE has and give it to the poor.”

      So, loving the Lord your God with all your heart, mind and soul…and…You shall love your neighbor as yourself means you use your own money to help the poor. You do not use your neighbor’s. It is not loving your neighbor by taking his money to give to another neighbor. So, stop it.

      • There are two flaws in this thinking.

        First of all, it treats “government” as a separate entity. If we are able to affect it (and, if we’re not, then it doesn’t matter in the slightest what we try to make it do, because it won’t do it anyway; so you can stop complaining about how we’re making it steal from you), then it’s not a separate entity at all. It is simply the hands we use to achieve our common purpose, decided by majority rule tempered through representatives and checked occasionally from going overboard by basic Constitutional guarantees.

        So taxation is not “taking someone else’s money to give to the poor.” It’s the sum total of us, our whole national community, deciding what WE are going to do with OUR money. We’re simply doing it on a group level rather than an individual level… which is something we have the legal right to decide through our representatives, according to a specified process.

        The concept that private property exists at all is dubious in Christianity, given how many times Jesus urged his followers to give away everything they owned to follow him, or told them to pool their resources and share everything in common. The idea that it not only exists, but is more important than Jesus’ injunction to take care of the poor and helpless, is straightforward Mammon-worship and has nothing whatsoever to do with Jesus’ teachings.

        The second major flaw in your thinking is the notion that it is simultaneously unacceptable to use the power of government to achieve purposes which Jesus explicitly told us to pursue (such as caring for the poor and marginalized), but also somehow just fine to use the power of government to achieve purposes which Jesus DIDN’T tell us to pursue (wresting control of policy away from “secular humanists”). This makes no logical sense whatsoever. Either it’s not OK to use government as a tool for the forwarding of Jesus’ aims — in which case it is certainly also not OK to use it as a tool for the forwarding of your own — or it’s OK to use government as a tool for either, but the true Christian should prioritize Jesus’ goals over their own. But it’s clearly not possible, from a Christian perspective, that Jesus would consider it acceptable to use the power of the state to achieve policy goals he never explicitly stated he wanted achieved in the first place, but somehow wrong to use the power of the state to achieve policy goals he DID explicitly say he wanted achieved.

        There’s a word for the belief that it’s simultaneously not OK to do something if it yields results you don’t like, but fine to do it if it yields results you do. The word is “hypocricy.” Jesus had some pretty harsh things to say about hypocrites, as I recall.

  41. Thank you – I’ve been saying something like this since before the present millennium began, and it rings even truer now. Trying to figure out how so-called Christians can swear they’re voting for someone who cheated on two of his three wives, or how they can reconcile mouth-foaming gun obsession with that pesky “thou shalt not kill” thing, is nearly as impossible as discerning why hate, lying, shrieking calls for violence, or blatant discrimination is considered “conservative”. All that is as radical as it gets. Maybe quizzes about both the Bible and the dictionary should be mandatory to separate the worshippers from the wannabes. At present, the public behavior of an alarming and growing number of “Christians” nearly guarantees that someone who might have been close to joining the movement will think twice if they actually prefer to be a peaceful, loving, rational human being. I don’t remember anything in the Good Book about being a “repeller of men”, but a lot of what comes out of these folks’ mouths is repulsive indeed. If they think Jesus is cool with that, the water is going to be really cold when it finally hits their faces (or, more to the point, the fire will be really hot).

    • My late mother used to say that ‘Good Atheists are made by bad Christians.” I know that’s not true in every case but, I think my mother was very wise and right about many things.

  42. Those people are probably right on target. The actual bible is full of hate and discrimination.
    But it’s good that you’re not going with the crowd and sticking to your morals. No one should be treated bad or like a second rate citizens just because of some old book.

  43. I don’t think you have the wrong idea. Despite the fact that you’re an exception instead of being the norm, you have the right idea.

    It’s strange to have to explain a peace loving religion to a wall of hate. Even more so when a part of the wall are people who worship the same God as you, but still hate anyway. One could even say that that weakens you more than the strangers who refuse to understand, this undermines you even more.

    But when you believe, you believe. And as long as you believe in being a good person, someone who actually spreads love or removes pain from this world, what you believe in cannot be wrong. I’m muslim. I’ve just about given up explaining how Islam is NOT about destroying everyone who isn’t muslim, people misquoting and taking the Quran out of context, or being casually insulting, like telling me Allahusnackbar- it isnt goddamn funny. What’s worse is people who are muslim already and do the misquoting thing for their own needs- that’s the sort of christians you’re comparing yourself to. That’s exactly the WRONG sort of christian to be.

    Youre doing just fine. We need more people like you, anyway. Too much hate out there as it is.

    • Thanks so much for your comment! I have lovely Muslim friends and a Muslim doctor from Iraq saved my life for practically free. I get furious when I see Islamaphobia (or, being the mom of gay, trans son, homophobia) and any other type of hatred towards minority peoples. It really makes me see red! My Muslim friends aren’t intending to ever hurt anyone! I can’t understand how a group of over one billion people can be grouped by bigots as being all the same. There are bad and good and lukewarm in any group of people. Look at all the white, Christian terrorists! I want to not be a racist, as I was raised, and it’s a battle every day to not react as I was taught by thinking all people of a group are the same but I do my very best because I want to be a good person. I was bullied in school very badly and I hated it when people made assumptions about me and hurt me. I never want to hurt anyone! But I won’t be one of those white Christians who claim that they don’t have a racist bone in their body. If we were raised that way it is absolutely necessary that we educate ourselves, go out among all kinds of people, and learn to love and accept people as they are. Peace

  44. What you may come to realize is that you’re firmly in the camp of non-literalist, non-exclusivist Christians, such as Marcus Borg. That puts you in fine company, as far as I am concerned. You are most definitely not alone.

  45. Your sarcasm and frustration are both clear; it was well written. How’s your heart really? Sarcasm, with me, can be a tool of communication or a negative expression. I believe you were being communicative, not negative, so I’m just checking before responding further.

    Other than the recent Trump support, and ignoring groups like Westside Baptist, where is this coming from? Perhaps my church experience is so much closer to (healthy?) community the broader political landscape is being missed.

    I don’t concur with other posts regarding scripture being filled with hate, given how its compelling my own service into the communities around me and abroad. Is my experience of multi-cultural, multi-national relationships in Jesus serving the poor and oppressed while boldly declaring Jesus is the only means of redemption so uncommon?

  46. Thank you so much for this. I too have been verbally attacked, emotionally beat up, and criticized by the same people I sit in the pew with every Sunday. Why? Because I speak out against hypocrisy and judgmental behavior.

    We seem to embrace our status as “child of The King” and use that to look down on, judge, and even hate everyone outside of the circle. Jesus, however, modeled what it looks like to be God’s child – be a servant.

    It takes every ounce of energy to not be discouraged.

  47. I think people who commented on this article are clearly missing the sarcastic tone and tie to the picture. The author is saying that he thought he was Christian because he believed in helping people, all people, and not exiling them or sending them back or judging them by where they come from or what religion they believe in. But it seems America is wanting to follow someone who believes in the OPPOSITE of what it means to be Christian. Self-proclaimed Christians are standing behind the biggest bigot in this nation right now. Again, you all missed the point with your tangents.

    • I am really shocked at how many Christian so easily sit in judgement of the sincerity of others’ faith and know for certain who is and is not a Christian.

      Disappointing

      • I don’t see any reference to the sincerity of anyone else’s faith. I do see people questioning each other’s actions, and pointing out where they directly contradict the teachings or the example of Christ. This doesn’t address their faith one way or the other, but it certainly should give pause to someone whose faith is sincere, but who has not been walking in a Christlike path.

  48. John loved the article. You have a good grasp of what a Christian should look like. The mainstream church of today has lost the simplicity of Christ. Keep your faith!

  49. Jon —- Don’t change. You’re doing it right. Be the embodiment, as much as any human can, of God’s love, and don’t apologize for it to anyone. Haters gonna hate. Brush em off.

    Love and blessings to you.

  50. Your path is very similar to mine, only I started seeing what you are NOW beginning to see several years ago. I don’t even call myself a Christian anymore, I have since decided that I am just following THE WAY and not labeling myself anything. If anything, I am more Messianic Jewish than anything. I eyes have been opened to the ridiculous traditions of the modern church and haven’t stepped foot in one since late 2014. Seek after YHWH, and His Son and NO OTHER! Follow only THE WAY and you’ll enter into that narrow gate spoken of in the NT! It makes sense now as to why Yeshua called it “The Narrow Gate” (pertaining to also the gate that people would enter in when the Tabernacle was established).

    Praying for you!

    P.S. Listen to a song called, “Hand to the Plough” by the Sons of Korah. This explains the state of the church today…

  51. Claiming to be a Christian, Calling yourself a Christian… does not mean you are one. True Christians remain, but the title ‘Christian’ has been stolen by angry and evil people. What better way to destroy the will of God than by claiming to represent it? These people are not ‘Christ-like’. My advice to you, is follow Christ, not Christians.

    • I agree. Take out your New Testament. Read the red words of Jesus and about the deeds He did. Examine what the Books of John and the Apostle Paul say about Christian Love. Go and do likewise. Expect most fundie Christians to hate you for doing it. People like them nailed Jesus to a cross, so do not be surprised when they want to do the same to you and everyone like you. Jesus predicted they would be that way—and He was right.

  52. Pingback: …Identity (Who You Are…Who You Aren’t…You Revealed) | Discernment On...

  53. Surely part of the reason I’ve left is because of this kind of behavior.

    But I truly believe that one of the more Shameful aspects is that it’s christians like you that got the point.
    I believe the other ones are the ones who missed it.
    The flag waving bravado too is especially ironic as the real jesus would never embrace empire or the logic of nation.

    he was almost thrown off a cliff for his anti-nationalism
    https://essencerestored.wordpress.com/2011/05/17/when-jesus-was-almost-thrown-off-a-cliff-for-his-anti-nationalist-remarks/

    yet somehow we have the TEAM USA! TEAM USA! TEAM USA! GO AMERICA!!!! psuedochristians who apparentally don’t even understand their own bible and what’s scary is they seem to be in the majority.

    I’ve Never claimed I REMAIN a christian, I’m a Pagan at this point but I WAS RAISED a Jehova’s Witness and I have to CALL on my understanding of scripture sometimes because as much as I disagree with paul at least Jesus is somewhat inspiratonal.
    The whole dialog with the Good samaritan when the in group wanted to shame and disparage all of them.

    these dialogs are spiritual parables. Timelessly useful to ANYONE who knows them. Even, yes, a Pagan convert.

    They are misguided. It’s sad how little they understand the scriptures they claim to.

  54. Your eyes are more open than the Majority of who call themselves ‘Christian’. When the Flood came only 8 were saved. When the prophet cried out, he found out there were 7000 others who would not bend knee to Baal. On the Narrow Path you find few. Remember, the Broad Path is the Gravy Train most want to jump aboard. I ‘d rather walk against the grain.

  55. and your point is?
    If this is a sarcasm then own up to your responsibility for contributing to it.
    otherwise, all we are left to believe is that you are different from the rest and asserting that you are most likely better than the rest of God’s people. That is the real deception.

  56. Excellent straw “man” argument. The Christians you describe simply remind me of the chief priests and protectors of the “law” of Jesus’ time. They were at cross purposes with the Way. Love and blessings to you and yours, g

  57. Hate to say it, but your own arrogance about your understanding of what is and is not Christian has caused you to judge millions of Christians because they don’t talk, serve, act like you.

    Indeed your arrogance has caused you to write facetiously about others faith and walk with Christ being beyond your understanding when in fact it may be the ABSOLUTE truth and your certainty about your own spiritual superiority will not even allow you to see it.

    The very writing of this article shows your own proclivity to judge people and believe you already know it all. You may be surprised.

    • If you believe that those whom John has described have the ABSOLUTE truth about how to walk in Jesus’ footsteps and live by his example, I would be fascinated to hear what makes you think so. I don’t assume I know it all, and I am willing to be surprised. So show me what I’m missing, please?

  58. If one was to follow and emulate Christ, that one would be overflowing with joy emanating from the budding, flowering essence of the True Vine itself. The matters of concerns what other people, who walk the Way of Christ, whether right or wrong according to your own opinion, would be of little concern to even yourself; especially from a spiritual perspective. Peter was rebuked by Jesus for drawing his sword and cutting off Malchus.’s ear – then Peter publicly denied Christ 3 times. Question, was Peter a Christian? This is wherein the answer to your dilemma rest.

  59. Youre all missing the point! Hes not atheist or agnostic. What he is saying is people who SAY theyre christians are not acting like it. They look more like the world. We are to be in the world but not of it.Dont look at religious people or religion…Keep your eyes on Jesus always! Come on…even the devil believes in God and KNOWS Jesus conquered him and IS returning again! The devil believes in God and yet is not a christian! John…keep your eyes on the Lord and keep on LOVING and FORGIVING. Youre not doing it wrong! Its our job to tell others about Jesus and salvation and to pray for them and LOVE them and be a living example of Christ and thats it!! No Christians are not perfect either but they strive to follow the Lord at all times. Dont judge Christians and Christians should not judge others. That doesnt mean you hide from sharing the truth though but I believe if youre living life as a real CHristian…others will see it in you and come to you and ask. They will see the difference in how you live,react,do or dont do things the way others do,youll have peace and love and forgiveness etc. and they will want that too!!

  60. The New Testament teaches us there will be many false teachers. They will be the ones claiming ownership of Jesus. But when they die and approach, he tells them, I NEVER KNEW YOU. By their fruits you shall know them. The fruits of the Biblical literalists are poison, sour, deadly and unchristian. They endorse political antichrists and worship the market and the Rich and conformity, not Jesus. The modern fundamentalist movement is false gospel, clearly, by the hate we see spewing from them. They are the ones with the logs in their eyes picking slivers out of the eyes of society. They are all about one thing OTHER PEOPLES SINS- not their own. They quibble doctrine and study the language twists of the KJV English, while ignoring the overall message of faith hope and love.
    This author also lacks faith. Perhaps these hell fire haters have distracted him away but faith is personal. Hopefully, he can find faith. For the fundys, I believe they have done too much damage to the gospel. We need a new uprising of believers in the Sermon on the Mount, the Corinthians, Ephesians and the spirit of the entire message. These will not be respecter of persons like bankers and crooked, cruel, bully developers or an immigrant hating immigrants.

  61. Jesus came so that we follow Him in close loving relationship with Him not the church and not people. Other people and the church are not Jesus. We are not called to make the church or anything else our Lord. Therefore your only place to look or to reference is God. The God of Abraham Isaac and Jacob. One of my favorite verses in the bible states Jesus only did what He saw His father do. John 5:19. His father only… Let that sink into your heart and I bless you to receive the truth about our amazing father in heaven. I pray this article brings others in a deeper connection with their father who is Love, who is Joy, and who is Peace. Be blessed,,

  62. Stop letting the liberal media form your decisions about who Christians are and what they do. If you feel like an outsider, you’re probably doing something g right. Welcome to the club. Turn off your TV and open your Bible.

  63. Just be careful of the reactive opposition. It is easy to vilify and discount those who by their strange desire to associate Jesus Christ with bigoted and near-fascist groupthink, and in so doing join other bigotries and near-fascist groupthink. To be a Christian is to be generally on the periphery, because that’s where Jesus is. If you follow him, the world will hate you, regardless of the labels the world chooses… we still have to love them even as we oppose the sin.

  64. I am going to try my hardest not to sound just coldly judgemental. As an outside observer (Canadian – with our own set of problems) it just seems to me and so many of my friends that the richest, most powerful, most influential country in the world has somehow lost its way. And as a Christian I just don’t recognize your brands of faith that fill our news each day. And of course that is what you were saying:) We still love you we just don’t understand you anymore.

    • Murray – perhaps your underlying premise is wrong. You said “richest, most powerful, most influential country in the world has somehow lost its way”. From a Christian perspective, why would you believe that it is those things which would help us find our way? Wasn’t there a saying “absolute power corrupts absolutely”? Maybe those who actually find their way are the least affluent, powerful and influential. And perhaps instead of going off of what you see in the news, make a visit to the U.S. to meet, serve beside, and/or live with some actual Christians to better gain “understanding”. Then you might not have to try so hard to not sound coldly judgmental.

      • Machba of course you are correct – these are not the values that help us find our way and of course they are the values that have caused the problem. My confusion about Americans is that these are the values that are used publicly and they are the values that many “Christians” seem to endorse through their support of certain political figures. Have you watched the intro that Jerry Falwell Jr. gave Donald Trump – not to mention the actual response to his speech? I really am only supporting the thesis of this blog – of course from a distance.

      • Thanks for the response. Honestly, Murray, I don’t pay too much attention to it (the Falwell/Trump stuff) and I would encourage you not to either. I can tell you first hand from my limited experience having lived in the US on the west coast for 45 years that there is much much more variation to Christianity in America than what you might see on TV. The blogosphere will probably give you a better sense of that variation.

      • Thanks for the article. Appreciate your attitude and understanding. I do wish your media would be more honest about the diversity within the faith. I do follow many of your bloggers and writers and there is so much good material coming out of the U.S. I am so sorry for what we in Canada consider the bizarre attention that some Christians get. All the best. Sorry I was not able to respond to you comments below as I wasn’t offered a reply button. With respect – Murray Baker

  65. It is the function of the ego to desire eternal life. It is a survival mechanism. Christianity is fear’s logic, its invention a brilliant theme for those who have been lead by a society to strive for it. If one were to remove Eternal Life After Death from life’s equation, it would cause an uproar, because there would only be Self, and that responsibility is great when Self realizes one short stint is all we get.

    • Problem is, us Christians do not fear death. Eternal life is given because we understand that death has been defeated. The error with this man’s post is that he claims that by doing good he thought he was “being Christian”. Doing good doesn’t separate us from the world. We ourselves are of the world to begin with! To be a true follower of Christ you must humble yourself, don’t count your good deeds to be your salvation. Rather understand that salvation comes from our Lord Jesus Christ.

    • No. If you were anywhere near as “tolerant” as you think you are, you would easily see that casting your wide “bigot” net over millions of people you have never met and have no right to judge is not only the very definition of bigotry, it exposes a level of ignorance about Christian faith which frankly makes anything you have to offer a non-starter. Try again.

  66. First, I’m pretty tempted to call this Trump clickbait. This is less about the election and more about frustration with popular opinion among Christians.

    Second, to identify as something does not require that you must agree with all who indentify as that thing. Christians have been arguing since the beginning of Christianity, man.

  67. I think most of you miss the mark. An excellent piece of satire, sarcasm at its best.
    What John is saying (if I’m correct): much of present day “Christianity” is owned by
    and proudly propagated by folks who act, speak and think in ways quite opposite to the way our Lord Jesus did. And to top it, this is being held up as the norm. Those who deviate from it, are, well, ween as deviant.

  68. Deeply personal and oddly beautiful. The name “Christian” and “Christian Nation” gets thrown around every political debate around this time while we hate each other for our color, believe, who we love, etc.
    Being a Christian is supposed to be more than just showing up in the building with the cross out front. But nowadays that’s all we make it out to be while we go around hating each other.

  69. When Christ was on this earth He spoke, He healed, He fed, He listened, He cried, He cared, He loved, all without expecting anything in return. The end result, He was nailed to the cross. If we all would follow His example, maybe we would know what it means to love and care for others. Jesus says, feed my flock. Our world has become so secularized that we do not have time for God. Christianity is only a word that describes the type of person we want to be or should be. I put reasonable goals for myself and that is to do ONE kind thing for someone that day. When I do that, I picture I am doing that as if I were doing that for Jesus Himself.

  70. Reading some comments from Pavlovitz’s blog, his post certainly resonates with leftists. For example:

    “What you may come to realize is that you’re firmly in the camp of non-literalist, non-exclusivist Christians, such as Marcus Borg. That puts you in fine company, as far as I am concerned. You are most definitely not alone.”

    Pavlovitz’s post is filled with a lot of words to evoke emotions, but he doesn’t do a good job of defining terms. In Jude we are called to use our minds to determine if we are being sold a bill of goods. So before I get all Gung Ho for someone’s post claiming to be theological I want to know what he means.

    What does Pavlovitz mean by “caring for the poor?” Does he mean Christians should give from their own resources (which “conservative” Christians do in greater numbers than so-called progressive Christians) or does he mean to use the full weight of government to forcibly confiscate wealth to redistribute it to the “poor?” He doesn’t explain this in his blog.

    What does he mean by “shunning status and opulence” and “casting aside power and privilege?” Does he mean to walk in humility and be content with what God gives or to avoid wealth and power because somehow they are inherently evil? What does he mean by status, opulence, power and privilege anyway? Does he mean Christians should not seek political office because that is seeking power? Should we simply yield to whatever public policy secular humanists create for us?

    We as Christians cannot be swept up in emotional rhetoric of those who claim to be Christians, otherwise we will be applauding with the wrong crowd.

    Christian theologian Francis Schaeffer said of liberal theology that it is nothing but secular humanism in religious terms. I don’t know Pavlovitz. If he’s coming from a liberal theological framework, perhaps he is right that what he’s been preaching and believing isn’t Christianity.

    (None of my comments are meant to evoke an emotional response. I’m not saying things to be controversial. I sincerely believe everything I post. I just want to interject thought into a discussion. Too often Christians “feel” about what they believe instead if think.)

      • False choice. The choice isn’t between defining every word and no words. I never said “every word.” He has not defined the important words. That you agree with him is because you had to impute your own meaning to the words he used. That is called eisegesis, which is the way liberals interpret scripture and the Constitution, by using their own definitions of words instead of the author’s. That’s a bad way to opetate.

    • “Does he mean Christians should give from their own resources (which “conservative” Christians do in greater numbers than so-called progressive Christians) or does he mean to use the full weight of government to forcibly confiscate wealth to redistribute it to the “poor?”

      This part of your post removes nearly all the weight of your inquiry(ies). Please provide credible statistics to back up your “greater numbers” claim, and define “so-called progressive Christians”.

  71. I love this article; it came out about the same time I decided that if people have to label me, then, I’m a Jew! My hero was born a Jew, lived all his life as a Jew, died a Jew and, if he came back, I bet you a dollar he wouldn’t be a Christian; he’d still be a Jew. So, I guess if you have to label me, label me ‘a Jew!’

    • I appreciate the sentiment, but I’m afraid you can’t simply label yourself a Jew, any more than you cam label yourself a citizen of China without going through the formal immigration procedures. Judaism is not a religion of faith, but of law. And its law on the subject of who is, and who is not, a Jew is very precise.

      There are two ways to become a Jew. You can either be born one (to a Jewish maternal line; the father’s line is not relevant in determining who’s a Jew, though it can be relevant in determining status as a Kohan or Levite from among those who are Jewish by maternal bloodline), or you can be formally adopted into the Jewish people through the act of a rabbinic court (Beit Din). The latter is how people who wish to convert generally go about it — but it’s not something they’ll do for you just for the asking; it usually takes YEARS of studying Jewish law and culture, and living by the commandments, before you are regarded as having demonstrated a sufficient understanding of what exactly you’re getting yourself into for the court to allow you to join the Jewish people. And during those years of study and action, most Jews will try to talk you out of it. 🙂

      Why do they try to talk you out of it? Because, according to Jewish law, the righteous gentile is fully equal in the eyes of God to the righteous Jew. There is no distinction. But since Jews have to obey far more commandments (613 against 7 for gentiles) just to make that status as ‘righteous’, it’s a lot more difficult for them. Add to that the fact that they’re under constant threat of persecution, and why would anyone choose to join if they didn’t have to? At least so goes conventional Jewish thinking.

      There are always some people who do so choose, of course. And, once they do, they are supposed to be fully accepted as the equal of any born Jew; in fact, they’re honored rather above the born Jews, because of their willingness to walk into the commandments rather than simply being stuck with them from birth. (There is no way to get out of Judaism if you’re born into it, according to the law. None.) As with most peoples, how well we keep this policy varies by congregation and individual… some people look at the convert with a bit of skepticism; others truly honor and value them as we’re supposed to.

      But in no case is someone considered a genuine convert until they have undergone the formal, legal process in front of a court. So I’m afraid that simply declaring yourself Jewish will not achieve anything except deeply offending the Jews around you.

      • Good grief, pocketnaomi, lighten up! You poor thing, you; carrying the world on your shoulders and trying to make everyone as perfect as you act like you are. Someone might label you…

        • Good grief, where’d all that hatred come from? Because I told people a little bit of background about a religion which wasn’t theirs? You can stand it; it won’t give you the flu. I promise. And if it harms your faith even to hear how one would go about converting to another religion, your faith is way too weak anyway.

          I’m very far from perfect… that’s why I actually care about Christianity. Even though I don’t consider Jesus to have been a deity, I do consider him to have been the finest moral teacher the world’s ever known, and I do my best to behave according to his instructions and example. If I weren’t faulty in my own right, I wouldn’t *need* an example to remind me to treat people well.

          I’m sorry that I offended you by trying to teach you a little about my people and our culture. I’ll remember you don’t like to learn, next time.

  72. (Please read my reply as if I don’t understand what you are really trying convey in this article, even though I really do)
    So even though you say that you have tried to be as Christian as a man can be, you have decided (for yourself) that what other people and organizations think and do takes precedence over your Christian Bible? There is but one requirement to be a Christian, and it is the one thing that none Christians just can’t make themselves get past, yet you say you had it but it is wavering now simply because of what other people do and say???? We have but a finite existence and I can promise you that it will mean nothing without FAITH. You can lead a finite existence by caring so much about what all of your neighbors are doing, or you can have a never ending glory filled existence if you just have FAITH? It is simply up to you.

  73. The article was written and meant to be read “sarcastically”. The writer understands all to well that his/her view of what real Christianity should look like is spot on. The point to the article was to wake up the church, to open it’s eyes to the fact that the bible was meant to read and PRACTICED, not wielded like a spiked club. We often fall into the gang-like mentality that would rather scold a sinner for sinning (imagine that) rather than love without condemnation and point to our own self righteousness as some sort of goal to be attained.
    The church needs to stop endorsing candidates, period! Especially the two-corinthian kind who have no clue what it means to be a christian and frankly doesn’t seem to care. We gravitate toward homogony and are fearful of things that look and act differently than we do. There are fundamental truths in the Word of God that need to be practiced, no question, but more times than not, our role of christianity is to LOVE and let God transform hearts and lives. We couldn’t even fix ourselves, the cross is a glaring reminder of that, how are we going to “fix” anyone else?
    There’s a not-so-obscure little passage in 1 Cor. 13 that’s has a little something to say on the matter….

    1If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. 3If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.

  74. You are obviously incredibly intelligent and a good writer. I went to Liberty for 4 years and agree with so much of what you are saying here. I also went through a lot of pain too. It’s taken years to finally see that I love Jesus but most of what the American church does I disagree with and don’t want to be aligned with. I now love people more than I ever could when I was stuck in Liberty’s narrow paradigm. Sounds like you’re struggling in a similar way. You’re not alone either. Thanks for writing this.

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  76. John,

    If you look hard enough at anything you can find something wrong. The family of Christians are broken people trying to find hope and light. Yet here these words appear that your expected Christians to be perfect and when they fail then everyone is put into a bucket together. There is evil in the world and people are always trying to tear away things that represent good. Jesus came not to condemn the world but to bring hope and light. As I’ve struggled in my life seeking brothers and sisters growing in their faith – is where I found this light and hope. You at one time was one. It feels you group all Christians together, judging the actions of some as it is all. If I read these words before becoming a Christian I would want nothing to do with Christians or followers of Christ. He loves us and died on the Cross for us no matter our wrongs. Instead of standing against us -stand for and with us. Hold individuals accountable for their actions. Or maybe you should question where your heart is. As for people identifying with a political party’s being a Christian or not – remember all our hearts are deceitful yours included – with out going before our heavenly Father seeking him, his word and others we can easily be lead astray by the promises of this world. Christians are mere broken, lost people with yuck to start with trying to find a way -THE WAY is Jesus – we’re not perfect, don’t claim to be – maybe some without a true understanding of who HE is and why He came for all of us and gives us a choice to follow Him. Show people how to find him, how to connect with him and others in the faith. John this is where I hope you invest your energy is to draw others close to Jesus, HIS WORD, TIME with Him and the Hope he brings – provide the knowledge so they can learn to forgive others for they often do not know what they do.

  77. Brother John, you know that old saying that if we don’t learn from history we are doomed to repeat it? I used to think, as a much younger man, that it only applied to the secular world. I look and consider not just the reason that Christ Jesus came to walk in this natural world but the timing also. I see what history tells us of His chosen people and I also understand He was on a time-table, a schedule and that our Heavenly Father had everything planned out.

    I could read the book of Jeremiah and I could understand why he was considered the “weeping prophet” because of his love for his and God’s people. In the time he wrote of the “shepherd’s” and their straying from the truth to the time that Jesus came to share the truth of the living Word and having to deal with the Pharisees, the “religious leaders” always trying to trip Him up in something He was teaching or sharing with the multitudes, the situation in the “religious centers” only worsened.

    Now speed ahead through history until we are a couple of thousand years in the future and it appears we are ripe for His return. Why? Because of the things that the “religious leaders” and modern day “Pharisees” are teaching from the modern “religious centers” seems to be a complete 360 degree return to the time of 2000 years ago. Yes, you would think that modern religious leaders have returned us to the time of the pharisaical circumstances. Jeremiah wasn’t just weeping for the spiritual direction of his time, he also was very prophetic of a future time that we now live in.

    It amazes me as a Pastor that so many who at least carry the same Bible as you and I have taken the Word of God and accomplished the very same thing as the Jewish religious leaders of two thousand years ago; AND they don’t see it, but rather scoff if you even mention taking the Good News and the Message of Love and Hope outside of their “brick and mortar” organizations. Relationship IS important, if you are a “member” of their congregation, but be it far from them if a Baptist fellowships with a Pentecostal, or a Lutheran with a Catholic or Methodist, etc.!

    Then to top it off, 84% of Americans in the U.S.A. consider themselves Christian (followers/disciples of Jesus Christ?) because they are American and/or believe in a “god” or a supreme being! Yep, the time is definitely ripe for a “comeback” or return of Christ Jesus!

    But take heart, brother John for you hit the nail on the head when you shared your belief in relationship! It’s not labels, it’s not “laws” or the do’s and don’ts, but just like Christ Jesus stated and demonstrated it’s relationship or communion, with God our Heavenly Father and with one another. I’ve heard of a movement that is happening around the world today being spurned on by different types of media, written, blogging and social media sites. Many are calling this new movement, just “The Church” though some call it “The Body of Christ” or the “Bride” as it were. I myself, even though a Pastor (not as much behind the pulpit now though) am really “feeling” drawn to this new movement and have actually found others already a part of this growing phenomenon! It is known for its unconditional approach to active loving of God and others rather than based on feeling. It isn’t wrapped in “brick and mortar” and the people seem to be very active with those less fortunate than themselves. To me it sounds intriguing and I would really invite you to check it out also!! Beware though, there are those that are threatened by it and can speak out very strongly against the radical nature of the movement.

    Anyway, you will definitely be loved and accepted by others in this movement. Hope and pray you will consider looking into it! For now, God bless you, abundantly, as you continue to point out the hope and assurance of a radical concept such as Agape Love empowered by (dare I say it) the Holy Spirit!

    Yours in Christ Jesus,

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  81. Maybe, you should take some responsibility as you are part of the “Church”. I would add where are you getting your information that the church is hateful and bigoted ? Perhaps you aren’t aware of the war going on right now for the minds and souls of the people. Many a force is trying to destroy Christianity , but they will not succeed . Even the rocks and stones will cry out, Jesus is Lord . Where you applauded and welcomed with open arms by the pluralist society who throw away their principles under the guise of love ? Love leads, it does not accept wrongs as right and call it Love.

    • Having gone to many many many churches of ALL denominations nearly all of my life, I can attest that every single one of them in the last 15 years or so, I walked out of mid sermon. Every single one of them was either geared toward marketing Jesus in the form of coffee shops, books, tshirts etc. or preaching hate against POC and the LGBTQ communities. I live in the Bible belt and hate, prejudice, classism, and sexism are not only taught, but they encourage you to spread it.

  82. Being a Christian is about realizing and acknowledging your that your sin has separated you from God and that there is no way that you can do anything on your own to atone for those sins. Only through the receiving the sacrifice of Jesus Christ of Nazareth as the atonement for your sin and confessing him as Lord and Savior can you become a Christian John 1:12,13. When the Holy Spirit convicts you of your sin and you cry out to God to forgive you of your sin and to make you a new creation through his son The Lord Jesus Christ, He responds and the old you dies and you become a brand new creation 2 Corinthians 5:17.
    So it is not about works that you do or churches that you attend that make you a Christian but faith, belief, and a relationship with The Lord Jesus Christ. Read His Word, the Bible, spend much time in it and you will know the truth and the truth will set you free. John 8:31,32.

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  84. Spot on sir. I have to wonder if the folks who never see Christians acting as described above see their fellow parishioners in action outside of church. I attend a Lutheran church (Missouri Synod) in a very small town. So, I see/hear folks in their day to day lives. When Ferguson MO happened, I heard the under-the-breath comments of my fellow church folk. It was hateful white privilege. And they don’t get it. They don’t want to get it. Getting it, would be too confusing, complex and hard. Hate is easy. Every single time.

  85. Wow, you certainly touched a nerve didn’t you? I left the church when I was a teenager, believing that any God that would allow these “evangelist” to take even the poorest’s money, while threatening their lives (all while living in mansions and flying in private jet planes) was no God of mine. I attempted returning at my mothers urging when my daughter was born. Sitting in a women’s Sunday school class and listening to them say…”if someone has cancer it’s because they deserve it, if they have HIV it’s because they deserve it, if they are hungry it’s because they deserve it.” I promptly picked my daughter up from her Sunday school class and have not looked back. I live my life to do good for ALL those around me. Started a non profit to help sexual assault and domestic violence victims. My daughter spent to years volunteering for her country thru americorps and my step son did two tours of Afghanistan. I tell you this not to get a pat on the back or any type of recognition. Just that we should be our own light, our own goodness. The hatefulness I see in the world lately has come from the churches, the Us vs. Them mentality, the “if you aren’t with us, you will go to hell” crowd. I’m tired of it and I truly believe many many others my age and younger are as well. Yup time to look at how our government runs but a lot of that government is supported by these “churches” and maybe that is where the root of it is. Just my 2 cents and I’m not going to debate it.

  86. Think of all the people (Christian or non-Christian) who know you to be a Christian and who listen to what you know or state. Do they understand Christ more now? I’m not so sure.

  87. Mr. Pavlovitz, I just wanted to apologize to you, and ask your forgiveness, on behalf of the ignorant bickering and feeble-mindedness within many comments. I must confess that after reading your own confession of the heart, that I could no longer ignore my own and felt a sense of urgency to at the very least make an attempt to restore the point that some of us missed.

    Love wins. Always.

    I have grown quite numb lately. You see, such as yourself, I immersed my entire existence the moment I chose to fully surrender to Christ. Thing is, I somehow allowed myself to grow weary… I’m literally ready to just lay down for good. Life and love has become more draining and exhausting, rather than filled with any real joy in life. I’ve failed all the tests life has thrown my way, and have concluded that I don’t believe Christ resides in me in any measure of faith or belief in Him I have for this very reason. I desire nothing more than to be renewed of the mind and truly emulate Christ and the kind of love promised to us, but hardly a flash of my life holds any resemblance of reciprocating His love for me.
    Such as yourself, I allowed myself to be deceived by those who claimed they loved me as Christ, only to reject me for not meeting their expectations that came as a result of showing me this “love”.
    But I became just as deceitful in the same sense by responding to their expectations, only to realize they were impossible to fulfill, even after their expectations became my own.
    Worst of it all, this is how I slowly began to evolve into the empty shell of a Christian I feel as today, by limiting the love God gave me to reveal that in all retrospect is painfully suppressed under pressure ready to burst within me… but for some reason, I just can’t seem to get a grip on having faith as I once thought I had, given that I no longer desire nothing of this world but to live and feel loved as God promises toward us. My faith has rendered me homeless, jobless, $50,000 in debt to bible college, outcasted for challenging doctrine, therefore blackballed by a particular denomination, all in my attempt to restore not just myself, but my family.
    I was a state raised kid who came home to a family of strangers in which the only thing we shared in common is blood. 8 years had past between all of us, and the odds of us ever having contact again were against us to begin with. The only reason I was released was because I ran away from an abusive program that was inevitably shut doen after giving my account of the evil things that took place there.
    Now, I just turned 34, and my entire family is broken up individually. My brother was recently released from jail, my sister is battling addiction, my mother is mentally incapacited, and I recently reunited with my father who went to prison when I was 8 and haven’t seen since I was 11. 23 years between us, and he’s still a hardcore dope fiend who is basically bedridden and was just diagnosed last week with stage 4 lung cancer and instead of treatment, he chooses the dope life and I can’t subject myself to any of them no longer, for the sake of having some kind of normalcy in my life… Some kind of comfort in which only God His children; His real children, can give.
    Somehow your perspective led me to cry out to you and your audience for whatever God may have as a way out for me, something that can light a path for me, as I have nowhere and no one to turn to for any kind of guidance anymore. Thanks for all who took the time to hear me out, and may God bless all of us in ways we never thought possible.

    • Interesting article. The one thing I would caution you on is to reconsider with whom you are comparing yourself. The standard is Jesus Christ, anyone else, regardless of whom they may claim to be, is not the standard bearer. We have to be careful not to compare ourselves among ourselves. Only by His blood are we made clean and acceptable in the sight of The Father. Man just cannot measure up.

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  89. Christianity is being Christlike, those that aren’t practicing that are failing. Jesus didn’t tell the Pharisees that they weren’t Jews. He just continued to show them how it really should be. There are many quiet churches that are all doing that and, like Jesus, they are continuing to do it without worrying about what the outside world is doing. There has always been, and always will be, churches that are distorting what Jesus was trying to pull off here on earth. And we just have to go on being like Jesus. It may do nothing to help the world we live in but we are living for the world he is preparing for us.

  90. Wow. Reading all these comments makes me wonder if Mr. Pavlovitz was actually being sarcastic as so many of you seem to think. If this is the kind of stuff he is subjected to every day I’d run screaming from religion. Oh, wait…I already did. As I said before, John, come to the dark side. We have cookies. At any rate whether you were being sarcastic or simply speaking honestly, I want you to know that there are many who appreciate you and the love that shines out through your writing. Love you!

  91. John — I feel and share your pain. That’s all I can offer. It seems to me that is what Jesus did when He accepted his fate on the cross — he shared our pain.

    You are indeed a follower of The Way.

  92. Somehow I always anticipated that persecution and opposition would come from “the world”, the people “out there”. In the past year or so, I’ve been opposed and maligned and worse by…Christians, not Muslims or homosexuals or atheists. Then the light went on. It was those of His own religious group who opposed and persecuted and even executed my Lord. I guess we shouldn’t be surprised.

  93. I think that I speak for many middle of the road Christians in New Zealand, when I say we are alarmed, and growing more alarmed by the day. It is hard for us to understand. We in NZ are generally easy-going and inclusive. Religious extremism in our country is over-tithing a congregation. We were stunned at the election result, most of us found Trump at best a joke, and at worst a very sick narcissist. Now we worry that he’s more than that, a very very dangerous individual. It makes us sick at heart and fearful of what might come next, in an already broken world. Keep up the resistance. Soon there will be a great many behind you all. A comforting though, “To clasp the hands in prayer is the beginning of an uprising against the disorder of the world.” (Karl Barth)

  94. Same comment from Australia. Christianity in the US seems to have headed off down quite a different path from anywhere else in the world. We’ve often thought America was rather strange, but it’s never come across as so “black is white, up is down, and short is long” as it’s doing currently.

  95. If being a Christian does indeed mean that you “resent and vilify those who don’t look or talk or believe or love the way we do,” then you have nothing to worry about. You embody this mindset with the tone and content of your posts.

  96. Every single time a passage I read from Pastor Pavlovich strikes a chord in me and I feel a renewed sense of hope and community, based in common sense and the simplistic view of love for God and humanity that I remember feeling as a child.. I then read the various comments and am shocked back to reality. Every. Single. Time.
    Pastor Pavlovich is a rarity. He transcends the judgemental attitudes and holier-than-thou soapbox while still maintaining an intelligent, humble, realistic and compassionate love for God and his fellow man.
    I think I’ll stop reading the comments section. It gives me nothing except jaded cynicism like a Pavlovian response.
    I may never find my way back to church, but I gaurantee my mind will remain clear and my belief uninfected by the vast majority of those I have met who call themselves “Christian.”

  97. History repeats:

    There is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things. For the reformer has enemies in all those who profit by the old order, and only lukewarm defenders in all those who would profit by the new order, this lukewarmness arising partly from fear of their adversaries … and partly from the incredulity of mankind, who do not truly believe in anything new until they have had actual experience of it.

    — Niccolo Machiavelli

  98. Ah, br’er John, nothing like using the “C” word to draw people out with their measuring sticks and their rule-books and their litmus-tests to “see if you’re a REAL Christian” – especially those who want to do testing to see “how pure a Christian” one is. Predictably, the only acceptable alternatives are (1) whatever passes for that person’s measure of “Christian purity,” (2) atheism, or (3) agnosticism. Basically, one is either “in” or “out,” the old binary choice.

    I’m gladder than I can describe for you to call into sharp relief what a crock-o-crap most so-called “Christian practice” has become. I keep hearing Brian McLaren’s call for “A New Kind of Christian,” one who remembers that “there is no one righteous, not even one,” and that we are all, at best, a messy slurry of saint and sinner, “both/and” rather than “either/or.” I don’t recognize the “fruits of the Spirit” in many of the folks claiming the “C” label these days. There are some true followers of Jesus – but it sure seems like they’re gettin’ pretty thin on the ground.

    I have always been blessed that you keep writing. I think that if *I* took the kind of abuse you do for your faith and your witness, I would be curled up in a ball with my blankie, muttering foul obscenities and surfing the web for a viable design for a light-saber. I won’t weigh-in on the topic of if you are/are not a Christian – since (thank God) it’s not my call. “Judge not” may be out of favor in Christendom these days, but it’s generally a good place to start.

    But from what I have read and heard, you surely seem to be (as the friends of Rich Mullins said of him) “an arrow pointing to God,” which is what I’ve come to believe is our true calling. Thank you for keepin’ on keepin’ on.

  99. There was certainly no evidence of “Christ-like” values in the campaign of this pathological liar and narcissist, so we can’t really be surprised that the election only emboldened him.

    It is a bit of surprise how quickly the GOP establishment joined in.

    No matter what they may piously claim, there is not much evidence of “Christian” values (as most Christians have traditionally defined the term) in this administration or its sycophants in Congress or in the Franklin Graham branch of pious hatred and bigotry fawning over him in the name of Jesus.

    And the proof is in almost every tweet and executive order and news conference and cable tv interview.

    I’m certainly not Christian if this is now the standard.

  100. “We extend a special welcome to those who are single, married, divorced, widowed, straight, gay, confused, well-heeled or down-at-heel. We especially welcome wailing babies and excited toddlers. We welcome you whether you can sing like Pavarotti or just growl quietly to yourself. You’re welcome here if you’re just browsing, just woken up or just got out of prison. We don’t care if you’re more Christian than the Archbishop of Canterbury or haven’t been to church since Christmas 10 years ago. We extend a special welcome to those who are over 60 but not grown up yet and to teenagers who are growing up too fast.

    We welcome keep-fit moms, football dads, starving artists, tree huggers, latte sippers, vegetarians, junk food eaters. We welcome those who are in recovery or still addicted. We welcome you if you’re having problems, are down in the dumps or don’t like organized religion. We’re not that keen on it either. We offer welcome to those who think the Earth is flat, work too hard, don’t work, can’t spell, or are here because Granny is visiting and wanted to come to the cathedral. We welcome those who are inked, pierced, both or neither.

    We offer a special welcome to those who could use a prayer right now, had religion shoved down their throats as kids or got lost on the Ring Road and wound up here by mistake. We welcome pilgrims, tourists, seekers, doubters and you.”
    -Coventry Cathedral

  101. God is in you and with you. Your love of Jesus Christ shines like a candle in the darkness. America needs you John, because while the people that are judging you are believing an “alternative” version of Christianity, which is hypocritical at best., You sir, are the gentle torch of righteousness, that is the same love that keeps the children warm in their beds. You understand “Reality”.In the real world , while you fight over judging them, They are looking for every way they can think of to silence you. That is because you speak the Truth of God, which they don’t want to hear.They try to make liberal’s look evil. They judge us, and claim that we are violent and dangerous. None of that is rue, because we follow the teachings of Jesus, Mohammad, Buddha, Gandhi, and Martin Luther King.Calling pantheistic people evil is a typical response of the right.Try to remember your cause is more important than their judgement.We love you ,John.

  102. Maybe you are only a Christian due to geography and ancestry. Thought experiment: What if your particular array of DNA had be born in Mongolia instead of the West?

  103. I agree Pastor John. I feel the disgust of this population’s behavior. It is so distorted, and I too wonder how many people are turned off to God, Jesus . When I think of all the distortions and cruelty in the so called name of religion. Yes John Lennon wrote that song Iimagine because of the damage done in the name of “religion”. LOVE IS THE ANSWER and that means NOT distorting the message of Love that Jesus gave. INCLUSION NOT EXCLUSION. LOVE THE POOR/DONT BE GREEDY ETC. IM DISGUSTED BUT WE CANT GIVE UP.

  104. Relating to the fact that you have achieved perfection, Anonymous speaks volumes in one sentence. I recognize I am on a journey. Much like the disciples, I have human flaws and failings and must turn to God daily for help in overcoming them. I choose not to believe that I cannot be a Christian until I do. I remain a work in progress and choose to continue my journey with him. I also choose not to judge or stereotype others..

  105. I no longer identify as a Christian. I am adamant that I’m not one for over two years now. Paul called people “Christians” in his letters to the Corinthians. To be a Christian, we have to aspire to be Christ-like; we can try to be like Christ in all of the things, but we won’t succeed as we are sinners through and through.

    Jesus called his followers disciples and believers. He never called anyone Christian. I am a believer because I believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross to rescue me (and everyone else) from eternal damnation. He called me to be a disciple by commanding that I love others as He loved me, so I MUST love others.

    I am a disciple, a believer, and a Jesus Feminist. I believe that He was the very first feminist by treating women as an equal (Mary Magdalene, anyone?). Reading Sarah Bessey’s book Jesus Feminist opened my eyes to things that the patriarchy wanted to pretend that it’s not possible that anyone would ever know that our Savior treated women as precious treasure, and equal to men.

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