redamancy.

We talked about religion at work the other day.  My boss and a few of my co-workers were standing in the kitchen and the thing that I remember most clearly is that they all said, at one point or another, that they just wish “Christians” weren’t so intolerant.  That they shouldn’t use the Bible to smack people over the head.

My boss is from the East Coast and she said people from there are more tolerant of differing beliefs than people down here.  Whether it’s tolerance regarding religious beliefs or interracial marriages or the LGBT movement – she said that people down here are extremely bigoted.

It made me sad and a little panicky.  I don’t know how to talk about God.  I don’t know how to share my beliefs, not just because I don’t know exactly what I believe (which is entirely separate topic all on it’s own) but because I don’t know how to say “I believe this” without worrying that I’m offending people.  I rely heavily on the “walk the walk” thing, but that actually fails a lot of the time because, hey, guess what?  I’m human.  (Which isn’t an excuse, but a fact.  I can try as hard as I like but I’m still going to fail.  That doesn’t mean I should stop trying, though.)  Like the other day.  I should’ve spoken up, and I didn’t.  I stood there and listened to them talking about God, about conservatives – describing faceless people who sound so much like people who are a part of my life.  People who go to church and read their Bibles and don’t drink or dance and will just about kill you with the word of God they throw it at you so hard.

I know I say this a lot, but it made me think.

Why do we do that?  Why are we, as religious people, not just Christians, so aggressive when sharing our opinions?  Why do we insist on insisting that we’re right and everyone else is wrong?

…Why do we not allow the freedom of belief for others that we desire for ourselves?  I mean, we came to this country to find religious freedom.  And here we are, suppressing that freedom for other people because we’re arrogant and prideful and we think that we’re right.

I get that there is a standard of right and wrong, and that some people aren’t completely on track as to where the lines between right and wrong meet.  But I don’t think that any one group of people (i.e. any one religion, specifically, I think) have the right to declare what is good or bad.

I have a friend who believes in something completely different than what I do.  Or.  Used to.  But she’s completely nonjudgmental and accepts that our beliefs are different by saying that God chooses to show different people different things.  The fact that my beliefs are different from hers doesn’t mean that one of us is right and the other is wrong, it’s just that God has shown us different things.

I’ll admit, I’m the kind of person who will argue until I’m blue in the face, and I’ll keep arguing if someone doesn’t admit at some point that I am right.  And it’s bad.  It’s a really bad thing that I do (less now, recently, than before), because I’m critical and conceited and I’ll even cry if I get angry enough.  But what good does that do?  Shoving the Bible, shoving God down someone’s throat isn’t going to make them love Him.

It’s a choice.  Freewill.  God gave that to us because love doesn’t mean anything if it isn’t given.  If we don’t choose to give up the world and to follow Him, the fake labels don’t mean anything.

 

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3 Comments

  1. How weird that you wrote this, because yesterday, before you wrote it, I was driving down the highway thinking about how many people I know that I do not share my faith with . . . and I felt terrible that I don’t have the courage to tell people what I believe.

    I agree that we should not be throwing the word of God at people so hard that we do them bodily harm. But I do think we need to be more vocal in what we believe — not in a “you must believe this because it’s the only way” but in a “this is what God has done for me, and my life is so much better because He is in it” kind of way.

    I do believe that Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life . . . because of that, I cannot believe that other religions are equally acceptable — but we are taught to love others, to show them kindness, even when we do not agree (thinking of the Good Samaritan). I’m encouraging you to hold tight to your faith in Jesus, but to love and pray for those who do not believe the same way that you do. Keep your eyes on Him, and don’t worry about what men (and women) say.

    Love you —

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  2. Let me add one thing — I read what I wrote and didn’t really like the part where I said, “This is what God has done for me and my life is so much better because He’s in it.” I think we should give testimony to the good things God does in our lives, but I didn’t mean to make it sound like He is a super Santa Claus, doing for us all the time. Pastor Rick had a great sermon on Sunday and basically he talked about how he TRUSTS God to take care of his needs . . . whether God does it now, or at some point down the road. He doesn’t worry about tomorrow, because he knows he belongs to God. 🙂

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  3. There is something to be said for staying quiet at times and picking your battles. Yes, we should be sharing the message of the gospel, but oftentimes, people you meet have already made up their minds not to obey Christ. You’ll find that they’re really just looking to bait you into an argument. You can choose whether to engage or let them vent.

    Realize also that it’s human nature to object to being labeled a ‘sinner’. But as the Bible tells us, ALL have sinned and fall short. No one earns salvation by being good enough. Where unbelievers struggle with the gospel (or Good News) of grace is recognizing the truth of their sin.

    Reply

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