Me Too: Five True Stories

Over the past several years, women have been coming forward with their stories of sexual assault and harassment by public figures who have abused their power, wealth, and fame. Recently, a campaign called “Me Too” has been taking over social media, with the goal to help us all understand how often these events occur, especially in the lives of women.

Story 1.

A 15-year old girl finally caught the eye of a guy she liked. She didn’t know what to expect, but suddenly they were “together”. He never told anyone about her. He hid her. He didn’t show her off to his family or friends. One day, he spent time with her with her family. They went boating, and on the way back to her house, he pulled his car over. He told her he loved her, molested her, and drove her home. She didn’t say a word. She felt powerless. She didn’t know what had happened. He dropped her off, called her on his way home, and broke up with her.

 

It happens with anyone.

It happens without you understanding.

It happens whether you’re “promiscuous” or “innocent”.

 

Story 2.

A 7-year old girl is playing hide-and-go-seek with her brother and her brother’s friend. Her brother’s friend, let’s call him “John”, tells the girl to hide with him as her brother counts. John brings her into a room where they’re alone. She hears her mother vacuuming upstairs. She hears her brother counting down. John forces his hands inside of her and counts down as her brother counts down. He tells her not to tell anyone. She didn’t understand what had happened, so she didn’t.

Later that same year, the girl was playing with her brother and John again. John tells the brother that they should play “wedding”. The girl is forced to be the bride, and when the brother isn’t looking, he forces his hands inside of her again. The girl ran out of the room, and she didn’t tell anyone until she was 18 years old.

 

It happens where you think you’re safe.

It happens when you’re around family.

It happens at any age.

 

Story 3.

A 20-year old girl is working. She loves her job and her coworkers, but a man in his 50s had been hitting on her all summer. He wasn’t a coworker, but a contractor. One day, she had the chance to do an activity with her coworkers that she had not been able to do before, which included being in a harness. Her other coworkers strapped themselves into their harnesses. The contractor was running the activity and strapped her in and made very inappropriate jokes. He had not strapped in a customer for months. Later, he was overheard bragging about what happened with his 30-something son.

 

It happens where you feel happy.

It happens with people much older than you.

It happens where people don’t take action.

 

Story 4.

While walking though a small town on a busy morning, a 19-year old girl listened to her music while sheltering herself from the rain. She was wearing sweatpants and a rain jacket with her hood covering her head. She was walking to class, like she had dozens of times. She recognized peoples’ faces, smiled by those she passed, and suddenly found herself alone on a dirt road for about 200 feet. She didn’t think anything of it. The town was busy, but this was the route she took every day—it was a less populated part of her walk each morning.

Suddenly, a white pick-up truck pulled over and a man got out of the truck. She only noticed out of the corner of her eye. The man started yelling at her, but she couldn’t hear what he was saying over her music. When she turned around, the man had unzipped his pants. She started running. He ran after her until she turned onto the next crowded street. The man wasn’t caught. She was told that it had never happened in this town.

 

It happens suddenly.

It happens anywhere.

It happens no matter what you wear.

 

Story 5.

A 19-year old girl walked to a coffee shop in a busy part of town. The previous night was rough for her, so she decided to wear her favorite dress to cheer herself up. Only a couple hundred feet away from the coffee shop, two men approached her. One lifted up her skirt as the other took pictures of her. She ran straight into the coffee shop.

 

It happens in public.

It happens when you feel confident.

It happens when you least expect it.

 

The truth about all of these stories is that they not only follow a theme of sexual harassment and assault but they also all happened to one person. Me. And these aren’t even all of the stories I have.

 

These things SHOULD NOT HAPPEN. I fight for this because I want to live in a world where my generation and the generations to come never have to experience these things. To all the people who have experienced these things, please remember that your worth is in Christ alone. These people do not decide your value. They do not decide what you deserve. They do not decide that you are at fault.

 

Share your story, whether it’s with a trusted friend or a group of people. Know that you are not alone.

 

#MeToo

 

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Angry at the Church & Christians?: A Defense for Their Failures

I went through a faith crisis for over a year, starting when I was abroad in 2016. I was sickened by the tidy, calm, unrevolutionary Jesus portrayed by base-of-the-mountain Churches and Christians. I was tired of seeing Christians ignore issues like refugee crises, sex trafficking, and families falling apart all over our nation due to divorce, porn, and addictions to idols. I was sick of watching people be rejected for their pasts, even though they repented. I could go on. I was so angry at the church. I blamed religion. I blamed Christians. I kept going to church, but I always had my guard up.

I am so glad I went through that. It motivated me to spend time deep in the Word, to understand who Christ really is. It motivated me to open my eyes to the revolutionary, life-changing, culture-challenging Jesus that the Bible describes. It motivated me to become the Christian I am, even though I am beyond imperfect. It furthered my faith and allowed me to really get to know the God I claimed to have a relationship with. I began to see the depth of the Gospel, the depth of salvation, and the depth of Christ’s heart.

That being said, I moved forward. I was right to find my own faith. I was right to seek Christ and Truth without only taking in what people tell me. It sparked something beautiful, but where I am now has given me peace. I see others going through that. I see plenty of millennial Christians who are going through the same thing– but to the point of leaving the church. Here’s what I have to say to my peers who are struggling with their faith because of the failures of the Church and Christians. 

1. Understand that the Church and Christians will never be perfect.

When an institution is made up of sinners, it will never be perfect. If we have true faith, we have changed hearts that seek righteousness. However, we are bound to make mistakes. We are bound to have the wrong views on earthly issues. We are bound to fail. But our identity doesn’t rely on how perfect we are, but on how perfect Christ is. If we expect the Church or Christians to be perfect, our theology is wrong. That being said, challenge the Church. Challenge Christians. Set high standards and push them to be as much like Christ as possible.

2. Realize that if you want to see change, you have to get involved.

After working at many churches this summer, I noticed how so many churches lacked volunteers. If you really want to impact your church, your community, and the next generation of Christians; get involved. Lead, devote your time, join a small group. You can’t complain if all you do is complain. You are called to be part of a community. Church isn’t for attending, it’s for being part of a family. You can’t fulfill the mission of the church by only going to services. 

3. Make sure your faith is based on Christ alone, not imperfect representations of Him. 

If your faith depends on how sinners represent Christ, your faith isn’t grounded in the right place. Your belief, your relationship, and your heart depend on Christ alone. He is the only savior. He is the only one who is sinless and perfect. He is the only one who can redeem the world. Make sure you’re focusing, ultimately, on Christ.

 

If you’re struggling with this, please feel free to reach out. I’d love to talk.

The Sin of Tolerance

Tolerance. Tolerance is allowing the existence, occurrence, or practice of something without interference. Tolerance is preached by a variety of people- Christians and non-Christians alike. Everyone wants to be respected. Everyone wants to live their life without the interference of others. But tolerance is the absence of love. Here’s why:

1. Tolerating other religions is the absence of love. 

Let me be completely clear: I am by no means preaching that we should think less of others, attack others, or disrespect others that do not believe in Jesus Christ. What I am saying is that the most hateful thing you can do is not share the beautiful news of the gospel. Life is too short to be shy about eternity. If you want to respect someone’s life choices, do so. Just don’t deprive them of the opportunity to hear that there is a God who loves them. Don’t deprive them of the news that is not only life-changing, but eternity-changing. As much as I appreciate seeing a coexist bumper sticker, respecting others while withholding something much bigger than this life is not love at all.

This life is not about making it through school and working until you retire. This life is not about family or friends. This life is not about getting married and having children. This life is about finding true life through Jesus Christ and reflecting it onto others. It’s about bringing a taste of the fullness and satisfaction of heaven to earth. At its essence, Hell is eternal separation from God. Eternal separation from the only one that can fulfill you, perfectly love you, and provide for you. Don’t let your tolerance, fear of being a Jesus-freak, and shyness get in the way of someone else’s eternity. You are called to emulate the light of Christ. No one gets to the Father except through Christ (John 14:6). Help others know Him, we are His ambassadors.

2 Corinthians 5:20 says,

Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ– God making His appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.

2. Tolerating sin is the absence of love. 

Christians (myself included) seem okay with a number of sins. Judgment (Matthew 7). Pride (Romans 12). Greed (Luke 12). Gluttony (Romans 13). Selfishness (Philippians 2). Gossip (2 Corinthians 12). Hatred (1 John 2). Idolatry (Exodus 20). These are sins that I personally struggle with. When we don’t call each other out in grace and truth, we are not loving each other the way we are called to.

Let me make something else clear: Good works don’t get you to heaven, but they are a natural result of a heart that belongs to the Lord. If your heart is truly changed by the truth of the gospel, you are naturally compelled to be more like Christ. We should be rejecting sin like God rejects sin. We need to be forgiving of ourselves and others, but we should be standing up against the sins that are very alive and well in our lives and in the church.

We should be embodying humility, grace, forgiveness, generosity, selflessness, honesty, love, and service to the one true God. We should be encouraging each other to do so as well. We should not turn a blind eye to “acceptable” sins in our own lives or in the lives of others. I mean, where would I be if my mother wasn’t around to tell me I was being stupid most of my adolescence? (And still now. Thanks, Ma.)

Matthew 18:15-17 says:

If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses. If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.

3. Tolerating yourself is the absence of love. 

It sounds cheesy, but I feel like God is asking me to be vulnerable in this moment. How many of us merely tolerate ourselves? On an average day, I honestly don’t like myself very much. I’m in a period of my life where my average week includes being rejected from yet another job, hating myself for eating mac and cheese instead of all the fresh fruit and vegetables I have, and being alone so much that I overthink about who I am as a person. Here’s the truth: I am far from perfect. I am selfish, controlling, and argumentative. I eat more than I should, exercise less than I should, and spend less time with people than I should. Ask my parents. Ask my brother. Ask my poor boyfriend.

But whatever you or your life are like, you were created in the image of God. Merely tolerating yourself is like merely tolerating God because you’re not fully appreciating His creation. Not to make you feel worse about yourself, but not loving yourself is a sin. I think one of the best traits to have is being self-aware. Yes, you should know your flaws– knowing them means you can work toward being more and more like Christ. But being self-aware includes being aware of your value and worth through Christ. When God looks at me, He doesn’t see someone who struggles with jealousy, judgment, and greed. He sees His daughter. He sees the image of His Son. He sees someone who was made righteous. He sees someone whose body and mind He created beautifully and perfectly.

1 John 3:1 says,

See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him.

Aggression at Bethel in an Emotionally Charged Nation

 

Over the past several years at Bethel, I have almost always felt safe, respected and valued–I cannot say the same about this present school year. I have become very disappointed in the actions of members of the student body over the last several months. I feel as if I’m leaving a different Bethel than I entered into – and not in a good way. I want to be clear that, although imperfect as any human-led organization is, my frustration is not with the Bethel administration, but students and their choices.

       

In my final year at Bethel alone, I’ve become aware of many aggressive actions different individuals have taken on campus that target students of color, LGBTQ students and women through public displays, harassment, tearing down event posters and more. Moreover, students aren’t the only impacted –faculty and staff are affected by these actions as well. Bethel is a community. I fear that students who are serving their fears and insecurities over Christ and others are breaking our community.

As Christians, we are called to respect others. Christ calls us to treat others as we would like to be treated (Matthew 7). Paul calls us to be devoted to each other in love and honoring others above ourselves (Romans 12). Paul challenges us to value others above ourselves in humility (Philippians 2). These are only three of many passages that preach these values. Of course, not every member of the Bethel community is a practicing Christian, but religion shouldn’t be the source of morality. There still is a clear “right” and “wrong” on this issue. It is never respectful or loving to harass others, disrespect gatherings of those different than yourself, and communicate messages of hate. Brothers and sisters of Bethel, I urge you to live humbly, treat others well, emulate the love of God and communicate in a mature and Christ-honoring way.

Moreover, we are called to not judge others – which is particularly applicable to harassment and aggression towards LGBTQ students. This idea is riddled all around scripture.

“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?” (Matthew 7, ESV).

I could write a book with everything I do wrong – it would probably end up being an encyclopedia set. But what’s beautiful is that God is the only judge I need to worry about. Where I am with Him is between Him and myself only. He is the only one who gets to decide what is and isn’t considered sin. He sees me at the same level as anyone else. I’m no better or worse than anyone.

There is no clause in scripture that says the love of God belongs to only Christians, to only white people, to only men, to only heterosexual people, to only Americans, to only conservatives, etc. You don’t have to march with or even support Black Lives Matter to respect and love people of color. You don’t have to support gay marriage or believe being LGBTQ is not a choice to be respectful to and love the people of the LGBTQ community. You don’t have believe that the wage gap exist or that sexism is alive to treat women with respect and love. You don’t have to be liberal to love and treat liberals with respect. You don’t have to be conservative to love and treat conservatives with respect. Nothing you believe as a human being, and especially as a Christian, should stop you from treating any human being with respect.

My biggest plea is this: when you see an individual, you should not only see their gender, race, sexual orientation, or political party; you should see their humanity. Each person is created in the image of God. Each person is composed of hundreds of things – their likes, their passions, their strengths, their history, etc. Stop limiting who they are to one or a few societal labels. Seek to understand each and every piece of them. When we start seeing individuals and groups of people as the enemy, we are losing sight of our true battle.  

To students who are struggling with big social issues our nation is currently facing, I recommend asking questions, taking challenging classes, sparking up conversations, digging into the Word, and removing any acquired bias and past influence.  

Apology from a Democrat

As a human, I am feeling so worn down by the political division I see in our country. I see it in the news, on social media, and in the communities around me. We have come to a time where we cannot have meaningful, fruitful, bipartisan conversation anymore, and I honestly have to admit my role in that.

(1) I am sorry for caring so much for the dehumanized that I actually dehumanized you. It’s pretty crappy that I want all people to be treated with respect, but have failed to love you well. You are human. You are valuable. You are so much more than your political views. You deserve care and respect like anyone else, and I am sorry for when I have treated you otherwise or have thought otherwise without saying.

(2) Conservative women against the marches: I am sorry that you feel alienated. I could take this moment to share my opinion, but instead I want to say that it’s a shame that some women and men promoting equality do not treat you with equality. It is a shame that there is so much miscommunication and misrepresentation of peoples’ beliefs that you are put down for it. I do see where you’re coming from even if I do not agree with you. You’re not less of a woman. You’re not less of a human. You’re not less of anything. We just don’t see eye to eye. As a pro-choice yet anti-abortion person, I can respect that a movement that promotes equality but that is also tied to pro-choice ideas will result in women who cannot stand with something that supports potential fetus’ death. I can respect that you may not think equality is in jeopardy if you have not experienced it yourself. I just hope that those who marched can seek to understand why you feel the way you do, and I hope that you will do the same to understand the women and men who did.

(3) I am sorry for letting the quality of our relationship be determined by a small part of your earthly identity. This is such a politically charged season that we have started to see each other’s political views as their identity. I am Christian. I am a woman. I am an environmentalist. I am a student. I am a daughter. I am a friend. You too have all of these beautiful things about yourself that have nothing to do with your political views. I am sorry for when I have failed to see past that. Your political views are not a determining factor in whether or not we can be friends and support each other. I am sorry for connecting your political views to your value and ability to support me.

(4) I am sorry for rejecting your beliefs without trying to understand why you believe them. The reason I believe what I do is because of (1) a lot of prayer, (2) a lot of critical thinking, and (3) viewing the gospel as a story that is focused on restoring the relationships intended in the Garden of Eden instead of just individual salvation. I see that in myself, and I get frustrated when others assume that I was brainwashed into it. Thus, I deserve to give you the same chance. I want to know what drives your thought process. And to be honest, we can all be looking at the same landscape from a different standpoint and see things differently. We honestly all are looking at the same thing, but none of us can actually see the whole picture. BUT it is important to ask them what they are seeing. It brings their beliefs to life. It lets you see why they have come to the conclusions they have come to instead of just judging their views as they are.

(5) I am sorry for the position that this past election put you in. I honestly do not know what I would have done if I was in your position. As a conservative, you had two choices: vote for someone whose policies were completely opposite of what you wanted, or vote for policies you supported but were voiced by a crazy person. As someone who does not like President Trump’s character or policies, I can say that he put conservative voters, especially Christian ones, in a tough position. I am sorry that people think you’re like him if you voted for his policies but did not like his character. So many people had to reluctantly vote for him, and I respect that–especially if you’re honest about his character flaws as an imperfect human being.

(6) I am sorry for how you are presented in the media. Why is it that our media portrays every side as radical and crazy? Someone needs to drain that swamp and make media non-partisan again.

(7) I am sorry for not seeking the commonality between us. There are so many beautiful things we could bond over, yet I have written you off at times because of our political differences. You’re so much more than your political views. Your morality (and mine) does not depend on who you voted for. Especially in this super tough election for a lot of people.

(8) I am sorry that we have been unable to overcome our differences to unite as Christ’s body. Christ told us to unify as a body. I am one of many who advocate for unity among divisive denominations, yet I have not necessarily advocated for unity among political divisions.

(9) I am sorry that I have channeled my frustration at you rather than getting involved and making a difference. Think about how beautiful this country would be if each and every one of us volunteered in a cause we cared about. Think about how many of our problems would be healed if we did more than complain about them. I promise that I will do my best to involve myself and channel my frustration into action. I hope you do the same–we need passionate people in this world who do more than say smart-sounding things.

I hope that instead of shutting down when we speak about these things, that we can not only hear the words of the other person, but that we seek to understand the thought process behind those words. I hope that we can look at human issues without giving them a political meaning so that we fight for justice for the oppressed without putting a party’s stamp on it. I truly hope that our country takes the next four years with grace and unity, while also standing up with respect. I truly hope that in the midst of disagreement, respect overrides hatred. 

 

Transformed: No Longer a Christian

I am sitting here, completely humbled by the Lord. I sit here wallowing in my sin of creating God in my image, rather than letting His image create and shape me. He is not my God. He is God and I am His creation. He is not what or who I want Him to be. He is who He is, and I am who He says I am. Christians, I beg of you. Take a breath and realize that our limited and restrictive understanding and creation of God has resulted in the huge gap that separates the God of Christianity and the God of the Bible. I ask you, if the God of Christianity looked in a mirror, would He see the God of the Bible in the reflection?

I would argue that my religion has grossly ruined God for me. I have come to the realization that the limited, controlled vision of who God is has caused me to misunderstand His character to the point of unbeliefs and deep anger. We take the attributes of God that we like and forget the rest because we care more about our pride than our transformation. We want a ticket to heaven, not a journey of reformation. I do not believe in the God of Christianity. For the God of Christianity has been used to support malicious acts of hatred, murderous crusades, racism and sexism, bible thumping, hypocrisy, and a disgusting order of priorities in the name of the “truth”. Yet, the God of the Bible continuously rebuked the religious, and He would do the same today. The church would probably kick Jesus out of their service today if He walked in. He would be too revolutionary, too forgiving, and too humbling.

God is not on the side of conventional Christianity today, I would argue. He does not care what you do if your heart is not transformed. For if your heart is transformed, Christians, you would not do what you’ve been doing. Let me pause and confess that if my heart was transformed the way God desired it to be, I would not be the person I am either. Transformed hearts naturally do the things God has called us to, but putting the law of God above the heart of God is a form of idolatry that I refuse to continue to fall into. Go to church. Take communion. Read your Bible. Follow the Sabbath. But do so because your changed heart hungers to follow God, not because you’re supposed to.

Now, I believe if God was sitting across from me right now drinking black coffee with a sprinkle of cinnamon (because that’s just the way coffee should be), He would be commanding me to do things much different than the church has taught me. He would tell me to love people His way, not the church’s way. He would tell me to stop being God and deciding who is good enough and who is not. He would tell me to open the door to all people, because I myself am so undeserving of His forgiveness. He would tell me to greet the poor, the oppressed, the immigrant, the woman, the minority with open arms and a sacrificed heart. He would tell me to give up all my posessions for those who have nothing. He would tell me to be an agent of reconciliation for those who have been beaten down by the church and by Christianity. He would tell me to kill off my pride, realize how much I do not deserve grace, and extend grace to others. He would tell me to get over myself, and get out there in the battlefield to be a vessel of healing rather than a vessel of hatred.

In the process of writing my exegesis paper on Luke 13:10-17 (when Jesus heals the crippled woman on the Sabbath), I realized that Christians are more like the rebuked Pharisee leaders today than like Christ Himself. He does not want us to just see His life as Christmas and Easter, He wants us to look at the life He lived, the ministry He created, and the footsteps He left for us to actually figure out what it means to follow Him. He did not just come to die for our sins, He came to serve the sick and the marginalized, free people from all types of bondage, and show us that actions mean nothing if your heart isn’t right. He called the religious hypocrites and said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves in the sight of others; but God knows your hearts; for what is prized by human beings is an abomination in the sight of God” (Luke 16:15). 

And if Christians out there are angry about the words I’m saying, it’s honestly just the words of Christ coming true. He said that the biggest source of persecution for His followers would be from the religious (Luke 12). Why? Because He ignored cultural barriers and religious customs. He did not care that the religious hated Him because He did what was actually right in the sight of God. He wasn’t killed for being a good guy, He was killed for His revolutionary redefinition of faith, after all. Christ was not safe. He was not simple. So why is Christianity so easy? Why it is cushy and comfortable?

This season has shown so much division. I see people fighting for their needs with their whole heart, and then other denying that their needs even exist. I see a group of people claiming the name of God, but too selfish to love other sacrificially. We are supposed to be living a life of great sacrifice, righteous rebellion, and selfless service. Yet we care more about our checkbooks than our neighbor’s starvation. We should be reaching out to today’s marginalized. Christ reached out to women, the sick, the disabled, the adulterers, the sinners, the tax collectors. So why won’t we do the same? Stop preaching “love your neighbor” if you care more about your cushy lifestyle than the well-being of others. Get off your butt and help people. Help those who are being persecuted for immigrating to escape poverty and war. Help those who are following other religions and being harassed for it–they won’t know Christ if you ignore them, will they? Help the disabled. Help racial minorities get treated as one of God’s children. I mean, for crying out loud, no one chooses the body they’re born in. Stop perpetuating cycles of violent racism and incorrect preconceived notions. This ridiculous hierarchy we’ve created is damaging and beyond out of God’s desire for His children.

Stop trying to play God. It’s only going to create more problems. Stop trying to be in control. Be a servant. Anaylze whether you’re following the God of the Bible or the God of Christianity. Stop being so afraid to be like Christ. Stop being restricted by your religion that you’re blind to who you’re following. Stop following a political party more than the God who died for you. Stop this mission of greed and be a leader in community, healing, and truth. Stop being a barrier for God’s ministry and be a part of it.

 

I believe with my whole heart that, when I prayed for God to break my heart for what breaks His, He called me to a life of sacrifice. I believe that you cannot be a follower of the God of the Bible by living the way that I have. You cannot sit in silence. Your blessings are not for you, they’re supposed to be allocated sacrificially to those who have less. You cannot live comfortably when other are suffering. There will be no justice, no peace, no reconciliation, no life, no abundance if a small percentage of God’s people are comfortable and the rest are fighting to survive or fighting for equality. Why won’t we create the world that God desires for us? Why can’t we just stop trying to climb the ladder to “success”, and lift people up instead?

If you are curious where all of this passionate, really kind of crazy theology is coming from, it’s not from me. It’s honestly from God. This spewed out, imperfect blog is just the result of how God has been changing me and what He has been teaching me for the last year. On November 13, I had an anxiety attack (which is a fairly common occurance for me) in my boyfriend’s truck in the parking lot in front of my building. I broke down in tears and began yelling at God. I was mad that He hadn’t protected me from sexual harassment at different times in my life. I was mad about the way I have been treated by different authority figures in the past few months. I was mad that my anxiety was controlling me no matter how hard I fought against it. I was mad about how much I care about things that Christians are too prideful to do something about. I was mad that people were sinning in the name of God, and bringing Hell to earth instead of Heaven to earth. And I let it all out. And I realized that I wasn’t angry with God, I was angry with my terrible view of who God was. My wonderful boyfriend (okay, roll your eyes) prayed for me. He talked with me. He sat with me. And I realized how God has used him in my life already by showing me patience, by sitting with me in the muck, and by caring about me as I am instead of as I hope to be someday. With his help and God’s help I was able to re-commit my life to Christ, declaring myself as a clean slate. I told God that I wanted to start over. Forget the Christianese and the customs, and just study the character of God. I told Him that I wanted to actually discover who He is instead of follow a religion. I told Him that I truly want to go through the messy process of changing my heart and actually follow Christ instead of my created version of God.

I hope you do the same. I hope that we all realize that we’re just a tiny part in God’s will. We are not creators, we are created. We are not religious, we are children. My true hope every time I write a blog is to make people think, not make people agree. So, whether you’re mad about what I’ve said or convicted or in agreement or think that this was all heresy, let me know your thoughts.

But Let God’s light and truth shine, not yours.

 

Don’t Leave The Box of Christian Basics

I recently overheard a conversation in which someone said that a Christian woman who took an unpopular stance on a controversial topic should get back to the basics of Christianity. This got me thinking about the Church, about Christ Himself, and about the ultimate question of our religion: What does it mean to be a Christian? I recently sat down with my Biblical Theology of Reconciliation professor to discuss my exegesis paper, which is focused on Luke 13:10-17, in which Jesus “breaks” Sabbath to heal a crippled woman. My professor and I discussed how I plan to use the passage to question this: Why did Jesus break a “law”? What it gets down to is this: Was Jesus’ mission to display following the Law or to display the heart and soul of God the Father?

Christ’s Character

I think the thing I admire the most about the man of Jesus Christ in the gospels is that He was extremely revolutionary, controversial, and challenging. I mean, He didn’t get killed because He was too religious, He was killed because He spoke the truth that made people feel uncomfortable. He redefined our faith, and people didn’t like it, so they crucified Him. He aligned His entire ministry with the hearts of the marginalized, the sinners, and the poor. He “broke” Sabbath to heal a woman who had been in bondage for 18 years, while telling the religious that they were hypocritical and too focused on the law. He declared His deity, angering the entire government. He forgave adulterers, tax collectors, and murderers while standing in the complete authority of His Father. He blessed the poor, the meek, the suffering while speaking against the rich and greedy. He walked in love, not in law.

His character was focused on getting people to focus on walking completely in the sacrificial love of God rather than the rigid law. He showed us that it doesn’t matter if you follow the Old Testament laws to a T if your heart is not fully surrendered to His mission of caring for those who need it. The gospel isn’t about redeeming sinners, it’s about restoring the relationship God first intended in the Garden. He came to re-establish a way to walk with Him, to be unashamed with Him, and to be in paradise with Him.

Our Mission

Our mission is not to stick to the story of birth, death, and resurrection. Our mission is to walk the steps of Jesus Christ that He left for us during His ministry. Our mission is to eat with sinners, bless the marginalized, and sacrifice for others. Our mission is not to go to church on Sundays, live comfortably, and try to tell less white lies. Our mission is to let go of everything so that those who have nothing are blessed.

Application to Today

Don’t stick to the basics. Read scripture. Find truth. Find the love of God. Speak for those whose voices have been smothered. Practice sacrificial love. Find something you’re passionate about and throw yourself into it. Be controversial. Live outside the box. Follow in the steps of our revolutionary Jesus. Align your heart with the heart of Christ, not the law. Be a disciple, not a pharisee.