Ach! There Are Times When I Just Shake My Head

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It looks as though Pat Robertson has spoken for God again, and stuck his foot [Mr. Robertson’s, not God’s] in his mouth. He linked the massive stroke of the Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to the wrath of God. Of course, I think he also made a link between September 11th and the wrath of God, and lots of other remarks claiming that he has the inside scoop on the mind of God. Isn’t there a scripture about that somewhere? Ah, yes Isaiah 55: 7-11. “My thoughts are not your thoughts…” I admit that’s taken out of context, the whole chapter is here. But this guy just keeps on talking for God, and saying horrible things, all the while claiming to have some special knowledge of God that the rest of us, apparently, don’t have.

His spokesperson say he’s just quoting the Bible, and he is, but he’s doing what I just did, taking it out of context and using it to suit his purposes. He seems to think that the Bible is just a big book full of how God kicks your butt if you don’t fall into line. I don’t get that when I read it.

What I see is a love story.

Yup, you read that right. The Old Testament is all about God’s relationship with the Israelites. And through it all, His incredible love for His people is right there in black and white.

[Some] Christians always focus on God’s discipline, and the times he destroyed cities [and once, the entire world] because the humans got ridiculous with their behavior and were ruled by selfishness and hate, and never looked at God or their fellow humans with anything but contempt.

We always look at the acts people were committing and say, “Well if I don’t do those things, I’ll be okay, and anyone who does those things is going straight to hell and good riddance!” We don’t look at the fact that the root of all those destructive things was selfishness. And selfishness is something we all are guilty of from time to time.

By selfishness, I’m not talking about taking care of yourself, or looking after your own interests, I’m talking about thinking only about what you want, to the exclusion of everyone and every thing else on the planet.

Jesus said that the two commandments that summed up all the laws and prophets were:

Love God [with all your heart, soul, and mind]
Love your neighbor as yourself (emphasis mine) [Matt 22:36-40]

It’s okay to like yourself, and take care of yourself. You have to do that or you DIE [whether physically, mentally or spiritually].

And that loving God thing? I don’t think that includes speaking for him. Over and over, Jesus kicks the religious leaders in their asses for being self-righteous prigs [like this one]

The one that hits me as most appropriate for our current religious leaders is this one:

“The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector Luke 18:9-14 [here is the whole chapter]

To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’
“But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’
“I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

God is more interested in your heart than your actions.

Eight years ago, I had all the answers. I was a Card Carrying Member of the Religious Right. Things were black and white, right or wrong and I knew which was which. Then the world I had carefully constructed fell apart when I realized that the people I had been modeling myself after were, well, human. And fallible. And just as screwed up as the non-Christians we hated so much.

In fact, some of those non-Christians were way better than they or I ever thought of being. They were out there feeding the hungry, taking care of orphans, widows, the sick, and visiting prisoners and working toward rehabilitating them instead of throwing them away or killing them. In fact, most of what we did was bitch about everything and everybody.

I didn’t know how to react to the fact that the people I admired so much were wrong about some things, so I shut down.

I stopped trying completely for several years. I still went to church most Sundays, but my heart wasn’t in it. I went into a tailspin of depression that sucked the life out of me. I reached a point where I was like, why the hell am I bothering with this? What is it that makes Christians so different from everyone else that we get to go to heaven and they don’t?

The easy answer, the typical Christian answer is, “Well, Jesus, of course.”

“What about him?” My mind asks.

“Well, He died on the cross for our sins, so that we can go to heaven when we die.”

“But what am I supposed to do while I’m here on earth?

“Be a Contagious Christian and Win Souls For Christ.”

“How?”

“Tell them the Good News!”

“What good news?”

“What I just said, you ninny! Jesus died on the cross and all that.”

“Is that it? Is that all he has to offer?”

“Isn’t that enough? What kind of heathen are you?!”

And that is the million dollar question, folks. What kind of heathen am I? I’m not buying any more of the crap from the ‘religious leaders.’ They don’t know any more about God’s mind than I do [and if you’ve been paying attention, you know I don’t know squat]. And I’m not absolutely sure anymore that Christians are the only ones who get to go to heaven.

Part of me has wondered all along if I’m losing my faith. Maybe I am. Losing my faith in others’ abilities to tell me what the Bible teaches. Losing my faith in the fundamentalist movement as the best way to follow Christ [nope, I’ve pretty much lost that]. Am I losing my faith in Jesus as the Son of God? And if I do, will that change my desire to follow his teachings?

I think maybe that’s the key. Following what he taught, regardless of his origin [we’re not going to worry about his claim that he was the Son of God right now, because I still believe that]. I think what I need to do is find out exactly what it is that Jesus taught. I know some of it, but I think I’ve focused so much on the son of God thing that I’ve neglected the important stuff.

The thing that keeps me holding on sometimes is this:

“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:13 [entire chapter] I am seeking Him. And I’m clinging to the promise that I will find Him for all I’m worth.

Okay, so that’s where I’ll go from here. But now I need sleep.

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About Shelbi

Work-at-home wife, mom of three kids, and caregiver for my brother, who has Cerebral Palsy. Never a dull moment, in other words. No idea how much I'll post, since I'm super busy these days, but maybe I'll get over here once in a while.

3 responses »

  1. Shelbi-

    Just wanted to say, Thanks for putting it all out there…I feel the same way…having all these questions about “Do I really believe someone who doesn’t believe in Jesus won’t go to heaven???, Can I still be a Christian and believe that? I think so, but other times I really don’t know.
    I like reading your blogs everyday!.. oh, and I hope you have good writings or I mean good thoughts or whatever:) when you’re writing your novel(s) today or whenever you write them.

  2. If the only thing I would’ve heard before I was a Christian was, “Do right, believe right, and you can go to heaven.” I would’ve run the other way screaming. What I heard instead was that Jesus loves you NOW, and wants to make you a fuller person NOW. He’s come to heal the brokenhearted. The bible says that a gazillion-bizillion times. I don’t think it talks about heaven even half as much as it talks about earth.

    I love Jesus. He healed my heart and loved me like no one else loved me. I’m a complete jerk, and he still thinks I’m great enough to die for. Wow, that’s something that stabs me in the face with conviction.

    I wish I could say that I loved him that much, or that I tell the world about all that he has done every day. But I would be a big far liar (and right now, I’m just a
    medium-fat-truth-teller, which is better).

    I’m going to try to do better. And by that I don’t mean that I’m going to follow the rules better, or do more. I’m going to try to love people more, take care of people better, and bring some folks along with me (c’mon Shelbi, lets go find some orphans and widows!).

    Enough of the ranting, have a good day. May God bless you, whoever you are and whatever you believe.

  3. Robin, thanks for the encouragement with my novel, [and thanks for reading my blog]. I’m working on the outline of the book when the kids are around because I can write that by hand [more portable].

    Lindsay, you said it beautifully. I’m a little irritated with myself that I fell into the ‘Pharisee trap,’ for so much of my time as a Christian. Maybe that’s why it pisses me off so much when I see it in others, because they’re missing the point.

    What’s worse is they’re hurting a lot of people in the process. I don’t believe that all Christians are hypocrites, but unfortunately it seems like the ones who look that way are often the ones people see and hear the most.

    I do love Jesus, rants aside. I’m just in a process of figuring out what kind of person I want to be, and what I want the focus of my life to be. Focusing on heaven or ‘the end times’ seems pointless to me. I want to focus on the people who are hurting right now.

    But, change is difficult for anyone. We’re such creatures of habit that we often fall back into the same ruts without realizing it. I guess writing about this stuff is my way of trying to make the change permanent.

    Love you guys, thanks for commenting!

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