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You keep using that word “Christian”. I do not think it means what you think it means.

I didn’t want to be Christian. Who would? Everybody that I saw who said they were Christian were jerks. They are rude, self-centered, self-assured. Sometimes they seem like zombies – they just do what they are told by their pastor. They all dress the same and talk the same. They get all twirly-eyed when they talk about their “Savior and Lord”. And worst of all – they read “safe” books and listen to “family-friendly” music.

Even now that I am a Christian, it is kind of embarrassing to admit that I am a follower of Jesus, because there are so many other people who wear the same badge who are flat out rude or crazy. Why would I want to be associated with them?

I don’t, really. I want to follow Jesus. I don’t follow the followers. When I read the New Testament, I’m careful to make sure who said what. The apostle Paul said a lot of really amazing things that help build up the early church, but he also said some pretty judgmental things about anybody who wasn’t a straight male. According to his letters, if you were female, you’d better be quiet in church and subservient to your husband. If you were gay, well, forget it. Pretty much, he excluded anybody who wasn’t him – and that seems to be the trend today. “If you don’t do things my way, you are doing it wrong”, seems to be the way a lot of Christians think.

But Jesus didn’t say anything like that. Jesus said a whole lot about loving (he was for it) and a whole lot about judging (he was against it).

Before I became a Christian, I’d read a lot of books about other faiths. I’d learned a lot about Buddhism, and Sikhism, and Taoism. If it was a world religion, I was there. But then I thought that I was not being fair. If I’m going to give equal time to all these other ways of understanding The Big Questions, then I need to see who this Jesus guy is and what he says.

I decided to give the Episcopal Church a try. My parents had raised me as an Episcopalian but they quit going when I was very young. The service was familiar, if a little confusing. Turns out I’d picked up the service bulletin for the week before in my desire to get there early and settled in. So I had the wrong readings, and the hymns were off, but the rest of the service was straight from the Book of Common Prayer and that was familiar enough. After the service I cornered a priest with this statement – “Buddha is awesome, Gandhi is with the program, and Lao-Tsu also has it figured out.” This was a make-it-or-break-it moment right here. I knew I’d found truth in their teachings. If he dismissed them, then I knew I was done with this foray. So he surprised me. He said “Cool!” with a huge smile. OK, now we were talking. He wasn’t part of a church that acted like it had a monopoly on the Divine.

I then decided to read the Bible. Well, let’s be honest. Very few people can wade through the entire Bible. There are a lot of “begats” that slow most folks down. And there is all that interior decorating micromanagement going on with building the first Temple. So I skipped to the Gospels.

The more I read of the Gospels, the more I wanted to quote from the movie Princess Bride to the folks who said they were Christians but didn’t act like it. “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.” They kept saying Jesus, but turning it into a dirty word. Their Jesus was hateful and judgmental. Their Jesus was all about getting a ticket to heaven and you were done. Their Jesus was closed-minded and thoughtless. This wasn’t the Jesus I was discovering. The Jesus I was discovering was about love, and more importantly, showing love through service to others.

What would Jesus do? I’d think he’d be totally down with the idea of having friends from all different religions. And I don’t mean having friends just so he can try to convert them. I think he’d learn how to say “thank you” in a bunch of different languages. I think he’d volunteer at a food bank. I think he’d carry around extra bottles of water so he could give them out to folks he saw. I think he’d encourage people and raise them up.

I think being a Christian is about service. It is about living the life of Jesus. It is about taking up the yoke. Sometimes people need a sandwich, not a sermon. I think “being Christian” means to be Christ in this world – to take up where he left off. Saint Theresa of Avila tells us “Christ has no body now on earth but yours.” Go forth. Be Jesus, and be the nice one. Be the one that heals and feeds and clothes.

(I have now turned off comments for this post, and updated my comment policy in my About section.)

25 thoughts on “You keep using that word “Christian”. I do not think it means what you think it means.

  1. Yep! It’s all that, and more.
    The problem I have, though, is that I’m not consistent in living out all the service and compassion side as I should.
    Yes, I get agitated by what I perceive to be the distortions and errors in others.
    I try, and mostly fail, to be as patient with them as I hope others will be with me. I know I also get defensive and obstinate when my mistakes are pointed out by well-meaning critics, so my question is, can we leave it to God to sort ‘them’ out, in the same way we trust that we will be guided by the Spirit to live our faith more consistently?

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    • I’m terrible at being consistent about living out the service and compassion side as well. But I want to be sure I’m not going to go into the “If you don’t believe in Jesus as your Lord and Savior, you are going to Hell” side either. That is the version of “Christianity” that I think gives Jesus a bad name. That is the version that turns people away from a pretty awesome life. Plus, there are a lot of folks who think that Christians are all the same. That we do what our ministers tell us to do and we can’t or won’t think for ourselves. I wanted to point out that this isn’t the case. As for letting God sort them out, I think it is important to call attention to our own failures as a faith-family, in much the same way and for the same reason as Paul did to the early churches. We are in danger of becoming irrelevant because of our own actions. When you have “churches” that burn the Koran or wave signs saying “God Hates (fill in the blank)” then there is a real danger of the entire faith being painted with the same brush, and that simply isn’t acceptable to me.

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  2. I’m really enjoying your posts. (I laughed my butt off about the “interior decorating” comment, because I felt the same way.)

    I don’t have much meaningful to add here, just letting you know I enjoy following your essays on belief, meaning, religion, and philosophy.

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    • Thanks! This is all a work in progress, and a way for me to share my thoughts with folks who I’m not friends with on Facebook. It is interesting to me how this is developing. I’m often surprised by where the post goes! Thanks for the support, and for reading.

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  3. I too was embarrassed to say I am Christian. When I decided to go back after studying Buddhism for a while I also sought out the Episcopal church. I am not gay but I went online to see what denomination was friendly to gays, and bisexual. Episcopal’s were one of the only ones listed. I figured if they were accepting to them then they had to be a wonderful accepting church following Jesus’ example. They are and I am now confirmed.

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    • I was an Episcopalian for half my life, and I was a chalice bearer and an acolyte the last three years. Then I wrote a post called “My problem with church” which isn’t about that specific parish, but church in general. I think we are doing it wrong. The priest was less than cool with it. I was removed from my duties as a chalice bearer and I now no longer go to church. Buddhism has a lot of appeal, but I’m considering the Baha’i faith now. I need something more active. I wish you well on your journey.

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      • I am so sorry you had that experience. That is unfortunate and so wrong. Your last paragraph says it all and is wonderful and so true. People tend to forget there was no Christianity back then, they were all Jews, except for Paul. The last two people to post Leah and the one before her is a great example of your writings and what is wrong with the “church.”

        I just wanted add something to the homosexuality quote from the Bible, especially Paul’s. In the German translation in Luther’s Bible the meaning of the word is child molester or boy molester. It just goes to show that we cannot rely on everything that is printed and said to be ‘of Christ.’ I am an archaeologist and I always got a kick out of those that take this tiny ripped sheet of papyrus that has two words on it and match it to a Bible quote. LOL well I can go on and on, but not sure if you took EfM while in the Episcopal church but I took year one and it was AWESOME in regards to the OT.

        Hugs and best of luck on your endeavors.
        Cathy

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      • Thank you very much for your support and encouragement. I feel that the negative comments from a few people simply prove the point of my post. I’ve decided not to reply to them, because I don’t want to give them my energy. I pray for them, as I hope they will pray for me (I don’t recall them saying they were going to…) It is bold and scary to put ideas out into the world, and have total strangers attack them. If they don’t get it, they don’t get it. I doubt anything I could say would help. They just aren’t there yet – and they are afraid. Anger is a hallmark of fear.

        But it is heartening to see the number of people who do get it, and are encouraged. Over 4,500 views, and only a handful of negative comments? OK. I think we can now move on to rebuilding and growing.

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  4. Hi there. I think you’re touching on something really important here. The need to follow Christ’s example and teaching isn’t emphasised in the church enough, that’s for sure. And most of the problems from the church come from people who are disregarding his teaching. But…
    I wouldn’t dismiss Paul or the Old Testament. I find, for example, Paul’s teaching about the importance of the Cross and how to live in the Spirit to be essential to truly know the love of Christ, which is essential in living out Jesus’ teachings. I also think we have to acknowledge we don’t measure up to Jesus’ standards in his teachings, and so the need for the Cross is massive. For example, we judge other Christians a lot, and we might even judge Paul and his teachings – Jesus told us not to judge! As soon as we start criticising we’re on shaky ground, according to Jesus himself. In fact the more we try to obey Jesus’ commands, the more we discover the need for mercy and the need for a closer relationship with Him.
    When I first became a Christian I felt exactly the same as you. But I think I now see how Jesus’ teachings relate to the rest of the Bible much more, in a way that has calmed some of my anxieties about the other stuff. I’d call myself an evangelical Christian now, a term I’d have shuddered at a few years ago! But perhaps the problem with the church is that it focuses on the rest of the Bible MORE than Jesus’ teachings, which is a massive problem.
    I’d be interested in what you think about my blog here: http://jesusinthecoffeehouse.wordpress.com/
    Thanks for your post!

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  5. I live in a community where a great deal of people might benefit from the Princess Bride quote, and its disheartening to see the necessity of it so often.

    I really appreciate your blog post, asking people to stop viewing their beliefs as a means to an end, and instead as an inspiration for how to live their life. I think we all need to be reminded what salvation truly is: A sandwich to a starving person, to keep them from hunger pains and weakness, or disease and death. Very touching and lovely. Thank you for sharing.

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    • Thank you for your kind comments. There are many of us who think this way, and it is encouraging. Together we can rebuild the Church. Peace and blessings to you on your journey.

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  6. Well said. All I can add is don’t dismiss the Apostle Paul before studying some of the contemporary scholarship on his letters. It is not clear that Paul said women should be silent and subservient. It is entirely possible that got added by a redactor. I used to dislike Paul, too, for the same reasons you give, but the more I’ve studied the more open I am to what he got right. A couple of people with a view of Paul you might appreciate: Marcus Borg, Richard Rohr, John Dominic Crossan.

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    • Thank you for your thoughtful comments. There are parts to Paul that I like. I’m concerned though when words attributed to Paul (because redactors may have indeed been involved) are used to prevent women or gay people from fully participating in church, not only with membership, but ministry. It is a good idea to separate who said what, and if people can’t separate Paul from Jesus in their heads then I’m saying they are better off sticking with Jesus.

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  7. Hi, Betsy! ~

    I used to call myself a Christian. My close friends sometimes challenged my use of this label and were sometimes embarrassed about my referring to myself as such. Probably for similar reasons to the ones you list in your article.

    For myself, I spend a good deal of my time looking for similarities between world religions because I think there’s Truth to be found where they overlap. I find this more constructive than highlighting differences between religions as many people do.

    Right now my passion is studying Native American Spirituality in particular.

    This was an Interesting read — Thank you for sharing your ideas!

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    • Thank you for your kind comments.

      I get a lot from Buddhism – but I also like Sufism and Hinduism. I think there are many paths. I think all have something really good to offer.

      I think it is really radical for someone to say they like Jesus, and follow him. It is bold, and brave to really dig into the meat of the Gospels and try to live it out loud. It is countercultural, and counterintuitive, because our culture defines “Christian” in a way that is about as opposite as possible.

      I wish you peace on your journey!

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  8. Thank you Betsy. I found your blog posted on Facebook by my church’s administrator. I love your search for truth and embrace any church that allows me to do the same. I have found that church and a community of truth seekers. Love and blessings,
    Patty

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    • Thank you, Patty!

      I’m very pleased that your church administrator posted it – that is a sign of a good church in my opinion : ) Many churches are wary of any challenge, and yours sounds very comfortable with challenge. We have to keep pushing and growing as followers of Jesus, and checking ourselves to make sure we are still on the path. Blessings to you.

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  9. After reading this blog post I have to say that I find it ironic, among other things. But I’m getting ahead of myself. It might help to start with where I agree with what you said. You say that you didn’t want to be a Christian. I agree. You didn’t. No one does. The Bible says that there is no one who is righteous, none who seeks after God, none who does good (Psalm 14:1-3/Romans 3:10-12).

    You profess to be a Christian, but I don’t think that the word means what you think it does. If I’m to go by what you wrote, it becomes clear that you don’t. You say that you are embarrassed to admit that you’re a Christian because there are others “out there” who profess to be Christians but are rude and crazy. What I find interesting is that there seems to be no indication that you can discern between a true Christian and someone who just says they are. Jesus said in Matthew 7 that there would be many who called Jesus Lord, but He would say “I never knew you.” Why would you think that it would be any different now? This leads me to another question, but I’ll hopefully remember to bring it up a little later.

    You say that you want to follow Jesus and not His followers. How exactly would this work? Isn’t it through His followers that we even know what things He said? Wasn’t it His disciples (later apostles) who wrote the New Testament; telling us many (but not all) of the things that He said and did? You talk about wanting to follow Jesus, but you deride the very people He appeared to and entrusted with His words. Those same people were then commanded by Jesus to go and spread this same word to all the ends of the earth. Paul, while not with the original 12, had a face to face encounter with Christ on the road to Damascus and heard the gospel straight from Him.

    You disagree with Paul because he called homosexuality a sin. The same as the Old Testament does. You talk about following Jesus, but you don’t seem to hold His Word in high regard. In 2 Timothy 3:16-17, Paul says that all scripture is “God breathed”. If this is true, then when Paul says “homosexuals will not inherit the kingdom of heaven”, shouldn’t this mean something? Shouldn’t it carry the very authority of God Himself considering its His Word?

    You say that you are careful when you deal with scripture, but you toss out very tired canards that have been refuted for decades concerning Paul and women. You say that Paul “excluded everyone who wasn’t him”. Do you have any actual proof of this? Paul was a “Pharisee of Pharisees, a Hebrew of Hebrews…” (Philippians 3:1-6). He was present at, and approved of, the stoning of Stephen. He was a Jew of the highest order, who saw himself as the protector of the truth of God. It was this zealousness for truth that caused him to persecute Christians in the first place. However, after his conversion, we see this same man dealing with a varied and interesting group of individuals. He talked with Lydia and saw her saved. He protected and argued for the release of Onesimus slave. He spent the majority of his time taking the gospel to the Gentiles; people that the Jews despised and saw as equal to pigs and dogs. Your caricature of Paul does a disservice to both the Apostle and the scriptures and doesn’t shine a favorable light on your understanding of scripture.

    You say that many Christians seem to think “If you’re not doing it my way, you’re doing it wrong”. I would agree, but I would be more specific and fair in my assessment than you were. There is more than one reason that people may think this way. The first is because they don’t understand the faith they profess to believe. This too brings two different reasons. One, they’re very new in the faith and haven’t been taught much. Two, they aren’t really saved and would rather put together an idolatrous and legalistic religion masquerading under the guise of Christianity. The other reason that people may think this way is because, ultimately, it’s true. This constitutes a problem for many people nowadays. Jesus said that no one comes to the Father except through Him (John 14:6). This means that all other religions (including those masquerading as Christianity), regardless of the wonderful things they may do, are wrong. Even if that religion claims to believe in Jesus, if they have the wrong Jesus they are wrong. You cannot come to the Father except through Christ and that Christ must be the Christ as revealed in the Bible. If it’s not, it doesn’t matter how loudly they proclaim Jesus as Lord, they will not see heaven…

    You say that Jesus was “a whole lot about loving (He was for it) and a whole lot about judging (He was against it)”. Really? Where do you get the support for this? From scripture? Would you say that Jesus was only for love and not for justice? Would you say that He was completely against judging (I suspect you would…)?

    Sadly, this is the default position for many who profess Christ today. Many of them follow their own ideas of what God is. He’s the loving, doting “daddy” who would never do anything “mean” like send people to hell. This is not God as He has revealed Himself in scripture. God has shown Himself to be holy, just, righteous, jealous, and angry at sin. He is also forgiving, loving, merciful, gracious, and patient with wicked sinners. He is all of these things. None of His attributes overshadows or eliminates any of the others. You say that Jesus was all about love. He is loving for sure. He gave up His place in heaven, humbled Himself to become flesh and live among His creation, suffered the vicious words and beatings of those who hated Him, and then allowed Himself to be crucified on the cross, even though He was sinless. And He did so while we were still sinners (Romans 5:8).

    You say that Jesus was against judging. Again I have to ask you where you see this? I’m assuming that you get it from Matthew 7? Jesus says “Do not judged unless you wish to be judged…” For someone who professes to be careful to understand what is said, you don’t seem to realize that when Jesus talked about judging, He wasn’t against it completely. Matthew 7 is the last chapter in the Sermon on the Mount. In the entire sermon, Jesus makes a differentiation between what the Pharisees and Gentiles do (judging by their own standard) and what those who follow Him do (judging by righteous judgment – John 7:24). Not only that, but what do you do with the times where Jesus flat out judges others (as He has the right to do)? When he tells the crowds that unless they repent they too will perish, isn’t that judging them? When He calls the Pharisees a “brood of vipers”, “hypocrites”, “sons of hell”, “blind guides”, “fools”, and “whitewashed tombs”; wouldn’t this be a little judgmental? If it’s wrong by His own words, wouldn’t that make Jesus a liar and a hypocrite? How, then, can He be Lord?

    You say that you’re a Christian and that your desire is to follow Christ and not His followers. You then say that Christ is against judging. Would He then approve of your judging of other people who profess to be Christians? You call them “rude”, “crazy”, “jerks” and mock their attitudes toward music and movies. Isn’t that a little hypocritical of you if Jesus is against all judging?

    I have also studied other religions and none of them come close to Christianity in regards to truth and authority. You say that “Buddha is awesome”, “Ghandhi is with the program”, and “Lao-Tsu has it figured out”. Does this mean that you’re saying that Buddhism, Hinduism, and other religions are all valid ways to get to heaven? If Ghandhi is with the program, wouldn’t he have proclaimed the same things that Peter, Paul, John and other Christians throughout the ages have? He didn’t do that. He has a few well-known quotes, but there are other things about Ghandhi that make it clear that he wasn’t a believer and didn’t hold to those things found in scripture. The idea that you can find a truthful statement in the writings of other religions isn’t the same as the religion being true. If Shintoism says that the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, does that make the religion true? Of course not!

    If a church acts like it has “a monopoly on the ‘Divine’” then, like I said before, it might just be because they hold to the truth that is found in scripture the way that it’s revealed there.

    You read the Bible but only the parts that you seem to think are worthy of reading. You skipped the begats, even though they show a direct link between Adam and Noah, Noah and Abraham, and all the way to Christ. Did you skip the genealogies in the beginnings of Matthew and Luke too? You also skipped the building of the Temple (the tabernacle or the temple?). The building shows that God has specific ways that things are to be done. His measurements, material lists, and methods are what He desires and the way that He desires it. If God were to give you the instructions to build something and what it should be built with, why wouldn’t you do it that way? Would God, who is perfect in knowledge, know what is best? The point of the Temple was to glorify God. It was also a shadow of Christ to come. He was the High Priest who would atone for sins. He was the temple where the veil of His flesh was torn so that Christians could come before God (Hebrews 10:20). There are numerous other instances in the Old Testament that are types or shadows of Christ. Why skip them?

    I have to ask, why do you keep using the word Christian when you don’t seem to know what it means to be one? You say that Christians (at least those who disagree with you) take Jesus and turn His name into a “dirty word”. Their Jesus is hateful and judgmental. Why the ‘us vs. them’ attitude? Doesn’t the scripture say that all Christians are one body, one faith, one baptism (Ephesians 4:4-6)? If that’s true, and you have a different Jesus than I do, then either you’re wrong, I’m wrong, or we’re both wrong. How do we determine which Jesus is the correct one? Wouldn’t it be scripture, His very revelation? If so, whose Jesus fits with the revelation of scripture, yours or mine? They are not the same…

    I would agree that Christians should have no problem having friends from all different religions. I don’t see anywhere in the Bible where it says that they are to isolate themselves from the rest of the world. However, the implication is that the “hateful, judgmental Christians” (whom you happen to be judging) don’t believe that to be the case while the “loving, understanding Christians” (such as yourself and those who agree with you) do. I have many friends who don’t believe in Christ. And they know that I do. And, because they know that I am concerned that they will go to hell if they die without Christ, they know that they will hear the gospel from me. How can I say that I love or care about them if I don’t? All of the things that you listed are works. Those are things that Christians do all the time, but they’re not measurements of whether or not Christianity is true. It’s also not necessarily an indication that someone isn’t a Christian. To impose rules or criteria as to what a Christian is that are not found in scripture would make you much more like the Pharisees and the “Christians” you don’t like than you seem to realize…

    Being a Christian is not about service, first and foremost. Being a Christian is about recognizing you’re a sinful, wretched person who is not good in the eyes of God and needs a Savior to rescue them from the wrath of a holy, just, and righteous God. It is then believing that Jesus is the only one who can save you. You can’t save yourself through works and no other “god” exists to save you. You mock those who are “twirly-eyed” about Jesus being their Lord and Savior. You’re right. I’m absolutely awed by the fact that the perfect, sinless, Lamb of God would come to earth, living among His creation for 33 ½ years, and then die a bloody and humiliating death on a Roman cross so that wicked, wretched, God-hating people like me could be born-again in spite of ourselves. If everything that I’ve said makes me one of those “hateful, judgmental Christians” because I happen to believe that the scriptures are the Word of God, that God’s wrath abides on sinners (homosexuals, adulterers, liars, thieves, idolaters, and others) then I’m ok with that.

    The Christianity that you portray is not the one found in the scriptures. The actions you seem to find repulsive are those that are (many times, but not all the time) due to what the scriptures say. The things that you say would lead me to believe that you don’t share in the same faith that I do and that concerns me. If you do not believe in the Jesus found in the scriptures and instead have made a Jesus to suit yourself and your lifestyle, then the Bible says that you are believing in a false Jesus and a false gospel. If that is true, then you are not a Christian, even though you profess to be. If you’re not a Christian, then God’s wrath still abides on you and your sins are not forgiven. If this remains until you die, scripture says that you will not inherit heaven.

    I understand that many reading this will probably read malice or anger into what I’ve written. I don’t say this with any malice, only with sadness that you don’t understand the faith that you profess to believe and you don’t seem to be concerned that the life you write about doesn’t line up with the life of a Christian as found in the scriptures…It is my hope that you will give this much thought and that you will repent and be saved….

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  10. What about truth and do you know what sin and the gospel are, Betsy?

    Second, what good is moralism if someone is still dead in their sins, is under God’s wrath, and on his or her way to hell?

    Finally, Jesus confronted sin and told whomever He talked to that He alone is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, that no one can come to the Father except through Him and unless you trust Him, you cannot be saved. What do you suppose He meant by all of that and do you think that’s important? Why or why not?

    Truth and love are inseperable and it very much seems like you’ve separated them and have labled it Christianity.

    The greatest way to show someone you love them is to tell them the truth about sin, righteousness, judgement, and the gospel of Jesus Christ.

    Christians love people not only with good works, but also with truth. And it is written in John 17:3 that eternal life is to know God and His Son, Jesus Christ, whom He has sent. Why? To save call sinners to repentance and save them, so that God and God alone would be glorified.

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  11. Btw, Christianity is not about living by the rules, but it’s about saving faith in Jesus Christ and having a change of heart which, in turn, affects how we live. That is the big difference between a moralist and a christian.

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  12. Betsy, please consider what has been said to you and give it some serious thought. I’m concerned for you because your belief about Jesus and Christianity is contrary to what the bible teaches. You’ve made a God to suit yourself and that is called idolatry and 2 John says that if you, or anyone who has the same beliefs as you, don’t abide in the teaching of Christ, you don’t have the Father and are not saved. As it is with your article, you are actually blaspheming God and reviling His word.

    Please, repent and believe the gospel.

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  13. Unfortunately, this is not an uncommon attitude in the visible church. This is why I write about it so much on this blog. The infiltration of liberal/emergent professing Christian influence in the church is devastating. The world is flooding in and even the visible church is hostile toward Christ’s sheep. Those who hate God and His children are within our very doors and they are imposing their brand of legalism on the church. Tolerance is king. Unity at the cost of truth is ruler. Anything goes except for truth.

    In 1 John, there are some indicators of what a new creation in Christ possesses and indications of what a false Christian possesses.

    One of those things that a new creation in Christ possesses is love for other Christians. Love for the church. On the other side of that, a false Christian possesses hatred for other Christians and the church.

    We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death. Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. 1 John 3:14-15

    …and whatever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him. And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us. John 3:22-23

    If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother. 1 John 4:20-21

    And what is love?

    Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us. 1 John 4:7-12

    And so, we have the article.

    You keep using that word “Christian”. I do not think it means what you think it means.

    Posted on February 16, 2013 by betsybeadhead

    I didn’t want to be Christian. Who would? Everybody that I saw who said they were Christian were jerks. They are rude, self-centered, self-assured. Sometimes they seem like zombies – they just do what they are told by their pastor. They all dress the same and talk the same. They get all twirly-eyed when they talk about their “Savior and Lord”. And worst of all – they read “safe” books and listen to “family-friendly” music.

    [Now that’s not very nice. How judgmental of her. This paragraph sounds an awful lot like what I’ve seen atheists say over and over again. Interesting. Does this paragraph seem like she loves Christians or hates them?]

    Even now that I am a Christian, it is kind of embarrassing to admit that I am a follower of Jesus, because there are so many other people who wear the same badge who are flat out rude or crazy. Why would I want to be associated with them?

    [I wonder if she thinks this article is not rude. Or crazy. You know what? I discovered that I can’t live up to other people’s standards, so I have stopped trying to. The whole point of Christianity is that I can’t live up to God’s perfect standard, so Christ did it for me and paid for my sins. Jesus is perfectly living up to God’s standard on my behalf. That’s grace. That’s the whole point. If I can’t live up to God’s perfect standard, why on earth would I try to live up to this lady’s standard? I’m not going to even try.]

    I don’t, really. I want to follow Jesus. I don’t follow the followers. When I read the New Testament, I’m careful to make sure who said what. The apostle Paul said a lot of really amazing things that help build up the early church, but he also said some pretty judgmental things about anybody who wasn’t a straight male. According to his letters, if you were female, you’d better be quiet in church and subservient to your husband. If you were gay, well, forget it. Pretty much, he excluded anybody who wasn’t him – and that seems to be the trend today. “If you don’t do things my way, you are doing it wrong”, seems to be the way a lot of Christians think.

    [You can’t claim to follow the groom while hating the bride. That is not acceptable to Jesus to say you follow Him but hate His church. If you are looking for a bunch of people to be perfect in your eyes, you will never find that church. Never. You know what? This lady is not perfect. She is a hypocrite. She thinks that Christians say ‘if you don’t do things my way, you are doing it wrong.’ when this article is all about her saying how Christians and/or the church is doing it wrong. She is also attributing things to Jesus that are incorrect while dismissing much of Scripture. This is not a true follower of Christ. You can’t separate Jesus from His Word. All of the Bible is His Word. If it’s in there, even if written by Paul, it is the Word of Jesus. She is revealing her terrible ignorance of the Word of God.]

    But Jesus didn’t say anything like that. Jesus said a whole lot about loving (he was for it) and a whole lot about judging (he was against it).

    [What does the Bible say love is? It is not the love she has made up. It is not the same as she thinks it is. Love is not tolerance of evil or wrong. Love does not do wrong or cause others to do wrong. Love is putting others before oneself. Love does right no matter the cost. Love and tolerance are not synonymous. Jesus was against hypocritical judgment but was completely for righteous judgment in light of Scripture. This article is hypocritical judgment. The kind Jesus was against. Another exposition of her utter ignorance of Scripture and who Jesus is.]

    Before I became a Christian, I’d read a lot of books about other faiths. I’d learned a lot about Buddhism, and Sikhism, and Taoism. If it was a world religion, I was there. But then I thought that I was not being fair. If I’m going to give equal time to all these other ways of understanding The Big Questions, then I need to see who this Jesus guy is and what he says.

    I decided to give the Episcopal Church a try. My parents had raised me as an Episcopalian but they quit going when I was very young. The service was familiar, if a little confusing. Turns out I’d picked up the service bulletin for the week before in my desire to get there early and settled in. So I had the wrong readings, and the hymns were off, but the rest of the service was straight from the Book of Common Prayer and that was familiar enough. After the service I cornered a priest with this statement – “Buddha is awesome, Gandhi is with the program, and Lao-Tsu also has it figured out.” This was a make-it-or-break-it moment right here. I knew I’d found truth in their teachings. If he dismissed them, then I knew I was done with this foray. So he surprised me. He said “Cool!” with a huge smile. OK, now we were talking. He wasn’t part of a church that acted like it had a monopoly on the Divine.

    [She thinks the Episcopal church is biblical. They are not, and it is shown in her anecdote right here. Truth is exclusive. Following Christ is exclusive. It isn’t the wide road that leads to salvation, but the narrow road and few find it. She is on the wide road, unfortunately, and being led further down by ‘priests’ like this fellow in counterfeit churches. It’s not that we have a monopoly on God, it’s that truth is exclusive. Christ is the only way. If you do not believe the truth, you are not a part of it. It’s as simple and logical as that. If you do not trust in the Christ of Scripture, you are not in Him. Simple, logical.]

    I then decided to read the Bible. Well, let’s be honest. Very few people can wade through the entire Bible. There are a lot of “begats” that slow most folks down. And there is all that interior decorating micromanagement going on with building the first Temple. So I skipped to the Gospels.

    [Flippant view of Scripture. Not surprising considering her previous remarks about it above.]

    The more I read of the Gospels, the more I wanted to quote from the movie Princess Bride to the folks who said they were Christians but didn’t act like it. “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.” They kept saying Jesus, but turning it into a dirty word. Their Jesus was hateful and judgmental. Their Jesus was all about getting a ticket to heaven and you were done. Their Jesus was closed-minded and thoughtless. This wasn’t the Jesus I was discovering. The Jesus I was discovering was about love, and more importantly, showing love through service to others.

    [Love. She keeps using that word. I don’t think it means what she thinks it means. It’s ironic how she wrote this hate filled article and then has the audacity to tell us who Jesus is and what love is.]

    What would Jesus do? I’d think he’d be totally down with the idea of having friends from all different religions. And I don’t mean having friends just so he can try to convert them. I think he’d learn how to say “thank you” in a bunch of different languages. I think he’d volunteer at a food bank. I think he’d carry around extra bottles of water so he could give them out to folks he saw. I think he’d encourage people and raise them up.

    [Jesus came the first time to seek and save the lost. He didn’t come to start social programs. When people demanded more food from Him, He told them that the food they really needed was the imperishable water and bread from heaven that feeds the soul. When one partakes of this living water and bread of life, they will never hunger or thirst again. He is the living water and bread of life. He didn’t come to work in a food bank. When the people asked what works they could do to earn eternal life, He told them that they can’t do anything, but to believe in the work of God to save them. This is what the plain reading of the gospels she claims to understand teaches. (see John chapter 6 for the specific account that I gave). This lady has fashioned an idol in her mind and called it Jesus. How very tragic.]

    I think being a Christian is about service. It is about living the life of Jesus. It is about taking up the yoke. Sometimes people need a sandwich, not a sermon. I think “being Christian” means to be Christ in this world – to take up where he left off. Saint Theresa of Avila tells us “Christ has no body now on earth but yours.” Go forth. Be Jesus, and be the nice one. Be the one that heals and feeds and clothes.

    [A new creation in Christ does bear good fruit. We do good works. Our works do not save, however. If our good works do not save ourselves, how can we expect them to save others? They don’t. Works are not the gospel. They are the fruit of a new creation in Christ and they support the Word, the gospel that we are to preach to all people. The gospel is God’s work to save sinners. Jesus is perfect. He took God’s wrath on the cross and died to pay the price for our sin and rose again from the dead so that all who would repent of sin and trust in Him alone for salvation would receive eternal life. We are not perfect. You will not find a perfect person if you searched for a million years on this earth. Only God is perfect and good. I go out and try and proclaim Christ and His work, not my own.]

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