Friday, March 07, 2008

That's not what my Jesus looks like

I can't even pretend to sleep because I am just so upset. I just read Becca's blog and got upset all over again. What is wrong with so many Christians? How can they treat people like that? I feel like I have been effected by horrible churches in such a personal way. I feel like it has scarred me even in ways that I never even realized before. It was mostly my parents and close friends who have had to go through horrible churches. I was just a young kid at the time....but I saw how it made my parents, especially my mom. It definitely scarred her for years to come. I don't think she held bitter feelings towards that church or anything, but it still impacted the decisions she made in future churches. So here is a little of what happened: It was our Vermont church. My parents were young and set out to change the world for Christ. This church tried to stamp the spirit out of them. They never approved of my mom because she worked part-time. She had to because they weren't paying my dad enough to support us. She would work 11 p.m.-7 a.m. so her work schedule NEVER interfered with church activities........she just didn't sleep (some things never change :)). They were horrified that she was working. I don't know everything that happened because I was so young, but here are a few things I was told. My mom did laundry on a Saturday and put the clothes to dry on the clothesline. She forgot about them and they were still on the line Sunday morning. The elders in the church were mad because it appeared as if she had done work on Sunday. When she was 8-9 months pregnant with Cindy she had to mow the lawn because no one in the church would help her. They had pointed out that the grass was too long to begin with.......apparently it didn't have the appearance of cleanliness......and we all know cleanliness is next to godliness!! One time the head elder in the church (an elderly woman) was having her 80th birthday party. My mother had the audacity to dress my baby sister in a cute pink and purple velvet pants suit..........She should have known better!! Baby girls don't wear pants!! It wasn't even for a church was a party!! These few things and a whole bunch of other things led the elders of the church (cheered on by the head elder Zelda) to write my mom a nasty note saying she was an embarrassment to the church. My parents were away for the weekend when they called a congregational meeting to decide if they should vote to fire my dad or not. Thankfully my parents were secretly away looking at another church. They basically left before they were kicked out by this horrible church. To this day, my mother hates the name Zelda (it is an ugly name even if it didn't have an ugly association). She also never ever let us wear pants to church even if they were dressy. This was something I carried with me even in college. She also never let us do any kind of yard work or housework on Sunday. I never really understood it at the time. I always thought it was so silly that she had those rules. I didn't realize that she had been scarred by that church....people who claimed to be followers of Christ and striving to reflect Him in their lives.

This past weekend my dad was telling me some tales of a local church. Several people have left this horrible church to go to my dad's church because of issues with legalism. One of the couples was kicked off a board (committee) because he listened to contemporary Christian music. Another man was kicked off because he couldn't control his wife. Apparently she was reaching out to a non-Christian and was driving her to church closer to where she lived so she missed a couple of Sundays. How dare she!! Didn't she know that Christians are supposed to stay in their own secluded bubble and not reach out to others? This church also refuses to join the Valley softball league. Wanna know why? Well I'll tell you!! It's because there are other denominations in the league!! All I gotta say is DUH!! Here is the funny part: THEY DECIDED TO JOIN THE BAR LEAGUE (Yes I mean bar as in drinking bar with alcohol)!!!!! This same church advised the people who decided to leave not to go to my dad's church because it was a "homo-sexual loving" church. They were slandering my dad's name and associating him with a few churches in the denomination. They have never ever even talked to my dad!! What is wrong with these people?

And now several of my closest friends have been hurt by GF. You all know the stories of that church so I won't get into it at all.

I gotta say it again: WHAT IS WRONG WITH THESE PEOPLE??? What Bible are they reading? What Jesus are they trying to mirror? I really have no idea...........because my Bible says that Jesus dined with sinners, thieves, and prostitutes and encouraged us to do the same. My Jesus loved the poor, needy, and weak. My Jesus loved people unconditionally and knew that the only way to heaven was through him. My Jesus didn't care about appearances. My Jesus died on the cross and didn't look pretty doing it. Is the Jesus they are trying to show the world really the same as my Jesus? My Jesus said that we would face persecution and not always be comfortable!! My Jesus cared more about relationships than religion!! My Jesus called for unity amongst Christians and not division. How can these people call themselves Christ-like? How can they send that message to the world?? Why don't they see it? WHAT IS WRONG WITH THEM??


At 7:09 AM, Blogger Jessica said...

There is so much brokenness in the body of Christ, and I can only imagine how much it hurts Him that the wounds were inflicted within the walls of the church. It's so hard to keep focused on the reason we're there when there's so much stuff polluting the atmosphere. It's Satan at work, really, trying to keep people from coming to know Jesus the way He is.

It's hard to imagine sometimes why we call it a "sanctuary," isn't it? It's supposed to be a place of refuge - a place of rest from the things that tear us down and frustrate our Christian walks - but there is more tension inside the church many times than there is outside. Inside, people have beliefs - firm ones - and whether they're Biblical or not, they're not going to be easily shaken. It's worth remembering, I think, that SOMETHING made those people that way. It might be experiences they've had themselves. It could be simple misinterpretation of Scripture. I don't know - but it's heartbreaking that such deep wounds are caused in a place that's supposed to be healing. We go in vulnerable to begin with - because of our own brokenness and sinfulness - and we expect to be loved. It's church, after all, and we should find love and acceptance there. We let our guards down because church is supposed to be somewhere where we don't need to have our defense mechanisms in place, and in doing so we often open ourselves up to the pain.

If you're like me, though, it's important to remember that if we put those shields back up and eliminate all vulnerability, we might as well not even go to church, because we can't feel God that way, either.

We need to seriously pray for the Church. It's hurting.

At 8:17 AM, Blogger Lynette said...

The end of your entry immediatly reminded me of Todd Agnew's song "My Jesus" as you pretty much summarized the song in your own words. Here are the lyrics:

Which Jesus do you serve?
If Ephesians says to imitate Christ,
Then why do you look so much like the world?

Cause my Jesus bled and died
He spent His time with thieves and liars
He loved the poor and accosted the arrogant
So which one do you want to be?

Blessed are the poor in spirit
Or do we pray to be bless me with the wealth of this land
Blessed are they that hunger and thirst for righteousness
Or do we ache for another taste of this world of shifting sands

Cause my Jesus bled and died for my sins
He spent His time with thieves and sluts and liars
He loved the poor and accosted the rich
So which one do you want to be?

Who is this that You follow
This picture of the American dream
If Jesus was here would you walk right by on the other side
Or fall down and worship at His holy feet

Pretty blue eyes and curly brown hair and a clear complexion
Is how you see Him as He dies for Your sins
But the Word says He was battered and scarred
Or did you miss that part
Sometimes I doubt we’d recognize Him

Cause my Jesus bled and died
He spent His time with thieves and the least of these
He loved the poor and accosted the comfortable
So which one do you want to be?

Cause my Jesus would never be accepted in my church
The blood and dirt on His feet might stain the carpet
But He reaches for the hurting and despises the proud
I think He’d prefer Beale St. to the stained glass crowd
And I know that He can hear me if I cry out loud

I want to be like my Jesus
Not a posterchild for American prosperity, but like my Jesus
You see I’m tired of living for success and popularity
I want to be like my Jesus but I’m not sure what that means to be like You Jesus

Cause You said to live like You, love like You but then You died for me
Can I be like You Jesus?
I want to be like My Jesus

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