The Jesuses I Reject

Sometimes, I feel like I have more in common with my athiest, “non-believing” or “other-believing” friends than I do with my Christian community. I find myself being so incredibly angry with so many organizations, theologies and attitudes held by so many “Jesus loving”, “God-fearing” know it alls.

I am currently reading Love Wins  by Rob Bell (yes, the author and pastor that has been called by so many conservative Christians as the anti-christ…geeeez) for the second time around. It basically kicks the views that Heaven is some shiny, golden plated mansion in the sky and Hell is a smoldering pit of doom in the ass (pardon the french).

To sum it up, he presents the theory (or rather, he says he is just joining the ongoing conversation discussed and debated for centuries) that Heaven is not some distant place with a bouncer at the front gate letting some in and sending other straight to the gates of Hell. Rather, Heaven is right here and now. “In Matthew 20 the mother of two of Jesus’ disciples says to Jesus, “Grant that one of these two sons of mine may sit at your right and the other at your left in your kingdom.” She doesn’t want bigger mansions or larger piles of gold for them, because static images of wealth and prosperity were not what filled the people’s heads when they thought of heaven in her day. She understood heaven to be about partnering with God to make a better world, one with increasingly complex and expansive expressions and dimensions of shalom, creativity, beauty, and design.  So when people ask, “What will we do in heaven?” one possible answer is to simply ask: “What do you love to do now that will go on in the world to come?” (47)

What? 

No mansions? 

No streets of gold? 

This is when most of my conservative Christian friends ask for a brown paper bag and either throw up or try to calm their hyperventilation. 

Oh, but let us not forget the ever burning Hell.

“Of all the billions of people who have ever lived, will only a select number “make it to a better place” and every single other person suffer in torment and punishment forever? Is this acceptable to God? Has God created millions of people over tens of thousands of years who are going to spend eternity in anguish? Can God do this, or even allow this, and still claim to be a loving God?”  Does God punish people for thousands of years with infinite, eternal torment for thing they did in their few finite tears of life?” 

Rob Bell, thank-you for asking the same questions I have asked since I was eight years old! The eight year old who did not know how to reconcile how to believe and love the God who said that God would love every child of God’s creation always but at the same time can send that same child to the pit of doom for eternity if they didn’t believe the way they ought to. I knew in my heart as I still do that something in the story being told by millions of Christians is not just right.

“Often times when I meet with atheists and we talk about the god they don’t believe in, we quickly discover that I don’t believe in that God either. So when we hear that a certain person has “rejected Christ,” we should first ask, “Which Christ?”. (9)

These are the Jesuses I reject:

The Jesus who condemns.

The Jesus who tells a gay person that he/she is a sinner who has no place in his world.

The Jesus who tells women they have no place in leadership and that they are below men.

The Jesus who tells minorities they are unwelcomed.

The Jesus who says I’m right, your wrong!

The Jesus who says going to church is the only way.

The Jesus who accuses, guilts and punishes those who do not know him.

The Jesus who stands on a street corner yelling “Turn or Burn!”

The Jesus who believes in an eternal hell.

The Jesus who doesn’t believe in redemption.

Now, for the Jesus I DO believe in: 

The Jesus who has room in his arms for every person, no matter how big their imperfections.

The Jesus who uplifts the outcast, the lonely and the misfits.

The Jesus who views man and woman EQUALLY.

The Jesus that says “I love you just the way you are”

The Jesus that proclaims the joy and proudness he has for every human being.

The Jesus that says “Your Forgiven!”

The Jesus that walks beside you through the darkest times.

The Jesus that whispers “You are loved, you are worthy, you are enough,  you are always welcome in my home”

The Jesus that chooses love over religion.

The Jesus who throws “rules”  AND “judgment” away and uplifts pure hearts and intentions.

The Jesus that LOVES ALL.

I know a lot of my friends and possibly some of my family will disagree and cast me aside as some misguided hippy girl who is most certainly doomed to the fiery pits of Hell. So, if you are worried, please gather your “prayer warriors” and pray your little hearts out for me.

But with less sassiness, may your hearts and minds be opened to a different way of thinking or at least some tolerance and respect for those who do not believe the way you do.

Share love in which ever way you wish!

Sydney

Oh, and watch this and may your soul be stirred!

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25 thoughts on “The Jesuses I Reject

  1. Back when I was a religious scholar, I learned an interesting fact that for a time placated my curiosity. The word “hell” or “hades” in the Christian tradition translates to mean: “The absence of God”. It seemed to le that the prophets of old, even Christ himself was trying to tell me that this planet, this existence, was hell. This world was absent of God. We, of course, know I found more in my studies, but this little translation helped me to understand some of the hard questions. Hopefully it will help some of your readers that aren’t ready for my interpretations.

    1. Yes, we also know that the word Hell in the NT is also translated and equates to what we would call a landfill. The whole “where fire burns and there is gnashing of teeth” thing could easily refer to burning of the trash and wild dogs chowing out on scrap food. Love digging into the many layers and mysteries of the bible. May my curiosity never be satisfied. Thanks for sharing Juh.

    1. Thank you Sydney! I very much agree and I can totally relate to the family members who think if I’m not in church every Sunday and Wednesday that I’m not the Christian they are ….

      1. Thank-you for sharing. It is wonderful to hear from others who relate-how refreshing it is to join together and celebrate unity rather than adversity!

  2. I completely agree with you outlook on this. I myself am in the process of reading Love Wins. He has honestly opened my eyes to a lot of questions that i haven’t quite thought that much about.. I am very proud of you. You have no reason to be ashamed of the questions anyone has cause we’re only human.. we have millions of questions i’ve learned this.. I am very excited about finishing up this book. && i believe people like him are the kind of people that we need in this world.. That is truly out to try understand what we dont..

  3. Sydney,
    I’m leaving you this comment to ask you if we can meet up soon and discuss this. I have read this blog post at least five time now and I am so scared. You coming into my life as a sister has been such an Awsome experience and getting to know you and see how much you love my brother makes me so happy! As your sister in Christ and sister in general I feel it is my obligation to talk to you in person about some of the things you believe. I believe in a sovereign God who forgives and will always be here for me no matter how many times I mess up and do not do my duty as a Christian. HE IS ALWAYS HERE FOR ME. With all my heart, and all my soul, with all that I am I will follow him, because without him I am nothing. My faith has grown in the last two years tremendously. One because I have given the Lord my whole life and said “do what you want with me Lord, it’s your will not mine.” and two because he has placed my helper right in front of me guiding me and leading me how a best friend and spouse should lead. I just want you to know out of all of this that I love you with all of my heart and I will never give up on you. Please let me know when we can meet and talk. Love you! -Alli

    1. Sweet Alli,
      I appreciate your concern and I know it is from the best intentions which I appreciate. However, you need not to be scared but have joy that we share the same love for God! We may articulate it differently but we can stand together unified with the God we serve together. I would love to sit down with you and chat and share our experiences of our faith and how we see it differently and how we share common ground because that is what this whole faith is about- opening dialouqe with diverse beliefs and respecting everyone’s differences! Love you sister.

  4. I think the strange part about this post is that I agree where you conclude, but I disagree with the means by which you get there.

    For example, Rob Bell uses really bad method in his book, which is unfortunate because I think he had such a good opportunity. He kind of blew it with speculative leaps with little reliable hermeneutical method backing those leaps. He also made some very incorrect assertions. I think we could have a productive conversation on this one day when I visit Nashville 🙂

    Additionally, I found it interesting how you described Jesus subjectively. I think we liberals can accurately depict the Jesus you say you choose within biblical limits, and that makes a more effective argument–especially against our more conservative counterparts–because it is a *biblical* argument. The language you use actually makes your case weaker, because it clutches to the postmodern caricaturistic ideal that Jesus is whoever we believe Jesus to be–and that’s not what true postmodern biblical scholarship is about. It almost seems like you’ve made Jesus into an empty puppet that you can stick your hand up in him to create whatever Jesus you wish existed. I think this occurs because of the language above. (I don’t think this was your intention, but I was trying to read this as a conservative to provide the critiques s/he might have.)

    I would love to see you address the “difficult” points of the Bible. Even in the NT, we see a judgmental God (such as when he opens the earth in acts to swallow up that man and his wife.) We see Jesus use parables that clearly split folks into “us” and “them” language…and kinda what you’ve done here with your blog post is create a personal Jesus that supposedly does not do that, and then placed yourself in his circle. If there’s one thing that we see evident in any of Jesus’s parables about the kingdom, as soon as a person thinks s/he is in it, Jesus makes it clear that person is most definitely not. So what does it mean for some people to NOT be in the kingdom, when we don’t believe in hell or exclusion? (I struggle with this daily).

    And for my last (hopefully constructive) comment, we have to remember when we say Jesus loves and accepts us all, it even means the most fundamentalist, Bible beating, hellfire and brimstone Christians. I wish we were discussing this in person! I really enjoyed reading your post and loved your points. Yay, hippie liberals!! 🙂

    1. Hey Jess!
      Thanks for the critiques- very informative. Honestly, this post came straight from my heart (which is how I usually write). There was no rough draft. ha! Honestly, my intention and motivation for this post was more for the people who have turned away from Christianity, who hate religion and who do not believe. This was in no way, shape or form a post towards hypocrytic Christians, hence, why I didn’t go Bibically. I wanted this post to purely be a stepping stone to more conversation and it has done just that! I actually already have a blog planned up for today to deal with the scriptural approach. I do not claim to be a great or even good writer and this blog was meant to be more a place for my ramblings and the things that have been on my heart. I am not as anayltical as you- I just have a different approach! 🙂 I loved Rob Bell’s approach and find that it is a great way to open up conversation for those who have been so turned off by most Christian writers.

      Thank-you for your input!

  5. I completely agree as well. One thing that really gets to me these days, and Ive seen this at the “Christian” school we went to. We have a situation where a young girl enrolled in a Christian school gets pregnant, obviously out of wedlock… The school goes on then to expel her from the school… How on earth are we supposed to vouch for such a loving and forgiving God, when we cant even love and forgive each other… Its crazy to me how people like this, teaching at a christian school, are supposed to be setting good examples and following Christ in all his actions. Yet as soon as something like this happens, the girl is shunned, and pushed away. Aren’t we supposed to love her, support her, and forgive her?? That is worse, I think, than what the girl did to get pregnant.

    I want to read this book!

    1. Thank-you so much for reading and then sharing! You are so correct and what an unfortunate example of the Hell that Christians create for others right here in earth. What a chance the school missed to serve and love that girl who probably needs support and love more than anything! I wonder if Jesus would have asked her to leave one of his lessons? I’m guessing he wouldn’t, I would even go as far to say that he would have welcomed her in his arms! I strongly recommend Love Wins, I hope you have the chance to read it!

  6. Girl I do not know you that well…..but I saw this pop up on my facebook and had to read it. I am so overwhelmed with happiness that someone our age knows the truth! THANK YOU! My mother and I are on this same page (and sometimes feel like the only ones) and we literally just talked about this three days ago and I so much appreciate hearing it from someone else. It’s very difficult & brave to go out and tell the world these things because not everyone wants to hear these things and it can really stir people up. Its very apparent that you listen to the voice of God and that is all he wants from any of us. I kinda gave up on church a while back, because I would sit there and here them talking about God and Heaven and Hell as a distant thing, and something so untouchable. I am so with you on that being here and now. People live in Hell every day and I have seen it with my own eyes. People choose to walk in Heaven every day. We have a God who came to take away the separation (HELL) and bring us into being one with Him (HEAVEN). I know lots of people will disagree, and that is totally their opinion and that is fine, but I want you to know that my Jesus sounds like yours and I appreciate your honesty. I would love to meet with you and talk more. Its so rare to find people on this same page.

    This is an incredible book that made me realize this truth so much more.
    http://www.amazon.com/When-Heaven-Invades-Earth-Johnson/dp/0768429528

    thanks Sydney!
    Kelsey

    1. oh also for you….

      John 15:18
      “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you.”

      John 1:11
      “He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him.”

      Psalm 118:22
      “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.”

      thank you again!

      1. last one sorry!

        Luke 17

        20 Once, on being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, “The coming of the kingdom of God is not something that can be observed, 21 nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is in your midst.”

    2. Hello Kelsey, I am so glad you stumbled upon my post. It continually surprises me how many there of “us” just dying to be a part of this dialogue . Many have shared this way of thinking but not many churches open the floor for this kind of conversation leaving many frustrated and bitter. My hope is to change this or at least be a part of that change. I would absolutely love to meet up with you and talk more! My husband and I were just talking about starting a group at our house to meet casually to discuss and share issues like these that are often scrutinized or ignored by the Churches as a whole.
      Also, thank-you so much for the scriptural notes- so beautiful and encouraging. I think these will have to go on sticky notes around my mirror!
      Thank-you Kelsey!
      Sydney

    1. Girl- we must be on the same wave length- I used this video on my last blog entry and in my sermon at church this morning. I absolutely love his message. I will have to follow your blog too!

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