The days are many when I question the foundational principles learned in youth, when I retire to bed at night more uncertain than certain, when I, like a child, want to hide under the bed covers to escape from the world.
Those stories I read as a young boy – the miracles, the healings, the parables, the inspiration and hope, the guidance and correction, the ancient shared wisdom – I remember all that.
I think of numerous personal crises endured and conquered, unmentionable forays into darkness, the return from the far land, a prodigal son reunited with his inheritance, testimony of a life resurrected, forgiveness extended – I think of all that.
And yet, tonight, the term Christian confuses me. Don’t all Christians honor and revere the same Jesus? Or is it possible there were two homeless vagabonds roaming the lands of 1st century Israel? Both named Jesus? Both from Nazareth?
Is there another version of ancient writings telling of a hateful and vengeful Jesus? Have I somehow not read the Gospel of Exclusion, the one that tells white Americans they are better than the other children of God?
And all the verses that I know by heart, maybe I should not believe that “Love thy neighbor as thyself” is truth straight from our Lord. Or maybe “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life” was intended only for white folks, not brown and black skins.
Some of you tell me that white Christians are God’s chosen people, that only those who congregate in certain churches will get to heaven, that it is okay to persecute others who follow a different path or those who name their God differently.
Is it really okay? Some of you say that caging children is acceptable under Christian principle, that denying those seeking safety, security and hope is biblical, that the man and woman who happen to be brown-skinned are not part of your Kingdom.
Others say that destroying our earth’s ecosystem in the name of profit will be justified in the end times because Jesus will rebuild our earth, that those who know the true God will be saved from annihilation.
Are we reading the same scriptures or do you have a different version? Did the other Jesus speak privately to you and not to me? Tell me what verse gives you the right to judge and condemn men who are not exactly like you? I must know.
My Jesus heals the sick, how about yours? My Jesus mends the broken, how about yours? My Jesus feeds the poor and hungry, shelters the homeless, welcomes the refugee, how about yours?
“For many will come in my name….and lead many astray.” Matthew 24:5
“Watch out for false prophets. They will come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.” Matthew 7:15