I got up early this morning and when I opened facebook I saw all kinds of updates about people unfollowing each other in various places online because of political/religious beliefs. It doesn’t surprise me. Where else can we say so much while still being seen so little? We get a little Screen Courage. Kind of like Liquid Courage, only different.
Someone said something about how many people don’t say a word when maybe we should be courageous enough to be honest about our beliefs. Aside from many who maybe just don’t know exactly where they stand on all the things, there are also many of us who are quieter for another reason. That’s because I look around at all the debating and such and it almost always has a thread of religion or something about God or the assumption that conservative=Christian and liberal=non-Christian. These arguments and statements hardly ever leave out God, the Bible or religion in one way or another.
So I’m feeling protective, I guess. Like Jesus is my Homeboy (totally is) and other people are talking about him like they know him better than I do. You know that possessive feeling you can sometimes get when you have a dear friend and you know each other well? And then people start talking about that person like they know your person way better than you do?
Maybe they do and maybe they don’t, but you just love the person and so you feel weird. It’s a normal jealous human response, I suppose.
Maybe this is why people have such strong reactions and use the Jesus they know or don’t want to know mixed with their political views. They feel possessive of their ideas about things and friends and God, too. And maybe they forget, in the midst of that, that they might want to feel they know Jesus (or know why they don’t believe in him) best, but that’s a game we can’t possibly play. It’s too full of arrogance and self-righteousness and ego to be a good idea.
We play it anyway. So much of the time, for good reason. We want to stand up in confidence in what we firmly believe about Love. That can be really good.
One of the main problems though, is that it all depends on how we grew up and who we know and what we heard and what was placed in us by man and what was misunderstood and what was born of true connection to the Homeboy and what wasn’t, and that can be really hard to weed through. There isn’t one of us who has the same knowing, yet we try to stand on that personal knowledge and shout things about it. I’ve done it, too.
These things are just really hard. And we want to use him because it seems so obvious to us. On the one hand, LOVE IS LOVE AND SO IS CHRIST and SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE AND DUH.
And then, TRUTH IS TRUTH AND THE BIBLE SAYS ONE MAN AND ONE WOMAN AND THIS COUNTRY WAS FOUNDED ON THE CHRISTIAN FAITH AND DUH.
The thing is, I could go sky-diving with my friend Kate and we could go get high and watch old movies and I would think she’s so chill and fun and we’d laugh a lot and then have long talks about the meaning of life and God and Jesus. She would probably say things about how it’s all so much bigger than we are and nothing can be held down because it all changes and in the end, God is love, the End. (No, we don’t actually sky-dive or get high, I’m just making this up. Just saying.) Then someone else could know Kate only from church on Sunday where she’s quiet and focused on that Love and they would learn from her wisdom and hear her beautiful singing voice. They’d go to her Sunday School class where she teaches some good ideas about parenting and they would describe her differently. I would probably be confused by their description, even though I’ve experienced that part, too. I would wonder why they seem intimidated by her, and I would wonder why they can’t imagine her sky-diving. They would wonder why I’m not intimidated and they’d think it’s weird that I think of her as silly-fun and somewhat liberal and off-the-wall. I’d say something about parenting and how I think she’s pretty chill about that too and they would gasp and say NO, this is what she says and that’s that!
We could try to set aside our beliefs based on experience and then sit down to listen to Kate describe herself and still we could not strip ourselves of what our experiences are speaking. It would hover over her in our mind’s eye because our mind’s eye is never 20/20, not even in hindsight.
Dare I say that my point is that I wish we could just keep Jesus out of it? Because we cannot possibly get it right and to think so would have to mean we’re saying that we have a perfect PERFECT understanding of the Bible and God and Jesus and we can’t. We just can.not. People will tell me that we can, but not now, not here. Have you looked around you lately, at the way the Bible and God and Jesus are being used? It leaves something really really important out:
We’re all the same.
We’re all the same.
We’re screwing up and screwed up and broken and beautiful and messy and good and so ridiculous. We’re pride one second and humility the next. We are love walking around until we are not and then we’re hurting each other again. We know only what we know which we could pour out of our heads into a juice glass. The tiny kind, like at restaurants where your breakfast comes with a side of juice like a shot.
This is why I don’t mention my Homeboy that much here. Can I represent him well with my words? I’m scared that I can’t. I don’t know how to put into words what having him for a Homeboy is like for me without sounding trite or canned or something. And that quote resonates with me “Preach the gospel at all times, when necessary, use words.”
For me, that’s best because if we’ve all got different ideas about Christ, we most likely all have different ideas about the gospel story. It is so easy to misrepresent unless we are mostly sticking to a quiet love.
That isn’t to say that I don’t believe it. That isn’t to say that I don’t want people to know about it. That isn’t to say that I won’t use words if I’m having a conversation about it that is open and honest and holds respect and understanding in its midst. My Jewish, Atheist, Buddhist, Agnostic, ETC friends know what I believe and we can talk about it. But they also know that they are not projects in my life. I don’t look at them like they need to be changed by my views, politically or in any which way. I love them because I love them and that’s just the way it is. Sometimes they ask questions about what I think about Jesus because they feel safe. I’m happy to talk about him, how I feel like he’s a bridge to God in a way that I need. How I feel like his life represented something bigger than any of us can ever understand no matter what our experience. How stripping religion from my relationship with him, being the drunk that I am and even the hard things I’ve been taught are all wrapped up in how I try to live. Things like that.
But if I told my friends that aren’t Christians that they have to believe what I do to save their souls and that’s why I’m telling them and that’s why I’m friends with them, to teach them how to live, politically and otherwise, I would not blame them for being hurt and walking away. It would feel like ulterior motives and like they aren’t simply who they are and loved simply. My friends can trust that I love them for the sake of loving them. Because they are Ann and Vikki and Tracy and Galit and Laurie and Nicki and Kate and Leane and Ellie and Maggie and Riley and Matt and and and…..
I love them largely because of experiences I’ve had with them. The times that have told me the story of who they are and I have grinned and felt like the luckiest person on the planet, just to know them.
With social media as a part of our lives, we are constantly aware of the views of our “friends” and well, pretty much anyone anywhere. It’s dangerous and exhausting and really good and open and really annoying and hard. I know that people are not going to stop using the name of Jesus within political unrest, new rulings and new territory. I guess I’m just saying that I wish we could. That we could stop living in the fear that comes from believing something is being taken from us if the government’s rulings do not align with our personal beliefs. If we allowed the facts to be laid forth and kept them simply focused on the equal rights of all people, sure, many conservative ideals would not win, that’s true. But maybe that’s because they are not meant to be a part of the governing of others.
I believe Jesus is the sky-diving adventurous type, for the most part. I also think he’s surprising and radical with that whole unconditional love thing. But I also understand that these beliefs of mine don’t mean that all my friends need to go sky-diving and see the radical grace in everything, or they’re wrong.
Sure, that’s a terribly simple analogy that needs a lot of work and doesn’t at all cover the entire nature of Christ. It’s silly, focusing on just a couple of things…..
So I don’t change my profile pictures or my avatars and I don’t bluntly state my political or religious opinions on my various social media pages. Not often anyway. I’m mostly quiet and these are my reasons. It doesn’t mean I don’t stand for anything and it doesn’t mean I don’t know what I stand for. It doesn’t mean that I’m being quiet because I don’t like the Supreme Court’s decision or that I don’t care about the abortion laws in Texas. I would end up engaging in, triggering and escalating an already vehement argument occurring all over the everywhere online. Most of the time, these arguments only keep people further entrenched in their own views, making fun of each other and spouting hate.
Even if you’re not a Bible-reading person, I’m sure you’ve heard about the Pharisees and how they were loud. And then Jesus came along and he would say like one thing, or tell a short story, and then walk away. I really like that about him. Especially when he’d just draw something in the sand or smile or cry and there were no words but the Spirit of Love was like WHAM and like POW!
Not everyone has to be like that and yes, there were times Jesus was super loud and angry and stuff, especially about Pharisees. I’m just saying that I like that quiet part of my Homeboy a lot. I want to wear it, with my sky-diving suit.