I wanted to write you a letter, you who hate religion, you who think the Christians are responsible for so much hatred in the world, you who is tired of hearing about Jesus from people who don’t seem to even know him. You, who wants nothing to do with this organized religion called Christianity which you suspect is just a code word for hypocrite.
You, shaking your fists watching televangelists tell hurricane and earthquake victims that the gays are responsible for God’s wrath. You, whose stomach turned when you drove past the street corner where the guy with the bullhorn and the poster board condemned passersby straight to the fires of hell. You, who rolls your eyes when your friend posts another Bible verse to your Facebook news feed. You, who is angry that your personal life and your future are threatened by people who don’t know you and don’t understand you and don’t even want to.
You wonder if God is so good and so powerful, and if He helped that team win the football game, then why doesn’t He do something about all those starving children or rape victims. You wonder what all the mega-churches full of believers could accomplish in the world, together, if they acted on the principles they preach instead of holding another Bible study or spiritual retreat. You wonder what the world would be like if there really was a movement of the love and grace Jesus taught about and if faith was more than a buzz word.
You are so sick of hearing from the Christians because after all these years you only seem to hear about what they’re against… politically, relationally, religiously, and morally. Because faith, hope, and love doesn’t seem to go any farther or any deeper than the cute little sign on their wall that holds the words. Because the only thing in your life they seem to care about is your sin. Because deep down you believe that if Jesus really does come back to this planet, he’ll be horrified about much of what is being done in His name and by those who claim that He is their God while they worship power and money.
I wanted to tell you…
It was never meant to be this way.
Jesus gives us a life of freedom, a freedom we Christians so often use to hold others captive. Jesus gives us infinite grace, a gift we maim and distort into judgment and condemnation. Jesus taught us to live a life of love, an instruction we’ve misunderstood and mismanaged and turned into a method of self-service.
I’m sorry for the Christians who have judged you and condemned you and cared only about your sin instead of extending grace and understanding and a hand of fellowship. I’m sorry that following Jesus has so often become a pursuit of religion and favor and that we have failed to do what our namesake requires of us, and act, always, in love.
Because we are the answer for the starving children and the rape victims, the solution God gave to a hurting world…His people. We are the hands to apply balm to the hurting bodies and hurting hearts. We have been given the kind of transcendent love that allows us to carry out supernatural miracles in the power of the Spirit.
But we don’t.
We fiddle with our iPhones and get bent up about politics and pray for vacations and sports victories. We imagine Jesus in our own image, with blue eyes and blue jeans, in a rage against all the things we hate. We play at church and turn it into a social club for the in-crowd, far removed from marginalized society, tithing for the benefit of flavored coffee and softer chairs while we look at the photos of the starving and the sick and the addicted and the lost and we say it, again and again…
We are, so often, a poor representation of Jesus.
We fail at all those things we’re supposed to be. We’re selfish and overwhelmed by the needs of the world and scared of what we don’t understand, so we waltz around and through our days like we don’t know the answers, like there’s nothing we can do, like we don’t have hope, and like we don’t really care about those neighbors we’re supposed to love like ourselves.
He isn’t like us.
We’re fallen and broken and making a mess of things. We’re sinful and selfish and so off-track. We’re human, and even when we try our hardest to emulate Him, to be Him in a hurting world, we miss the mark and get tangled up in our humanity, in our very nature as not-gods. We have let you down. He won’t. He isn’t like us.