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