The Papal visit has stirred up a lot of emotion. Many people object to much that the Pope stands for. The guys were talking about it today and I spotted a few people putting “I’m an atheist, and I’m a good person on Twitter” and read into those tweets that those people had felt they had been looked down upon in some way. I’m not Roman Catholic myself, but I am a Christian, and I just wanted to share my feelings on the matter. It breaks my heart sometimes how we as His representatives portray Jesus to people.
I am a pretty poor example of a Christian, I’ll be the first to admit, but for me, encountering Jesus Christ radically changes me inside, I cannot encounter Him and remain quite the same. Reading about Him, and spotting Him in prayer, conversation, meditation and full on “religious experience” all continue to fundamentally shape who I am.
Each of these encounters has humbled me. I’m not saying I’m a wonderfully humble person, but through these experiences I have realised my own weaknesses in such a way that makes me think twice about pointing the finger at others. Jesus’ teachings illustrate very clearly and beautifully the attitudes I have that are judgemental, hateful, spiteful and so on – I guess you could say He corrects me. How therefore, could I condemn someone else, when Jesus has treated me so patiently and kindly? He has built me up, given me hope and a future where I was a total mess on the inside. (If you’d like to know more, please read the rest of this blog or drop me a line!)
Maybe you’re reading this and I or other Christians have seemed to talk down to you. I’m truly sorry for this. We’re excited about Jesus and we want you to get to know Him, but we should never think we’re “better” than anybody else. The fact that we Christians are imperfect is the very reason we need Jesus!
That said, the Church does have a responsibility to uphold morality, and be a “light on a hill”, a good example. Facing outwards, we have a responsibility to come out and protest against injustice: the Church leads campaigns against poverty and corruption (e.g. Christian Aid) and many other wonderful causes. The Church should never act in a hateful way, but acting always, always, always in love and compassion. There is also stuff in the New Testament about church discipline – internal to the church, sorting out disputes and moral issues.
There are some greyish areas I feel. I don’t know where I stand with abortion for example; it’s something that’s not clear cut enough for me with so many edge cases. For others, it seems like a clearer cut issue. I know these are really hard issues and they create a lot of controversy. I’m sorry to sit on the fence!
I guess what I’d like to say is don’t throw the baby out with the bath water – the church of Jesus Christ is a massive, massive thing, with many denominations, styles of worship, and attitudes, and anything involving human beings is flawed. I truly believe, however, that when someone really meets Jesus, He puts something in that person’s heart making them want to live a lifestyle of love, sacrifice and compassion.
And finally, I’m so sorry if I’ve hurt you, or somehow made a bad impression of Christians. My theology probably isn’t perfect, this is just what I’m thinking and feeling right now.