I have a confession. I didn’t actually stop believing in God. Rather, I stopped believing in the God I was taught to believe in. I stopped believing in the God that people told me to believe in. Instead, I began to believe in the God that my soul so graciously led me to. I began to believe in the God of love, peace, and beauty. I must also add that this didn’t happen overnight. It has been a process; a process of occasional fear but more importantly, a process of redemption, freedom, and joy. That process will be available in my book. No, it’s not for sale yet as it is still being written. As a result, my post below does not delve into the details of my own journey however it does capture some of my thoughts that ultimately led me to that journey.
I recently ordered and received a copy of, “Unafraid: Moving Beyond Fear-Based Faith” by Benjamin L. Corey. (No, I don’t receive any “kickbacks” for book sales; I’m seriously just enjoying the book!) It’s almost as if I could have written the book myself and slightly mirrors my own in-progress book.
Like so many others, I suppose that I have been in a mourning of sorts. I haven’t lost a loved one recently; it’s more of a mourning of the ways in which some versions of Christianity have been twisted. In fact, it’s been twisted so much so that I barely recognize it anymore. Or maybe it’s always been this way yet, I failed or refused to see the signs. I’ve begun to witness the severity of fear and the destruction it can bring. It’s almost as this fear somehow permeates into the very soul, creating a binder that makes it difficult for some to be able to seemingly grasp the whole picture.
As a child, I was often taught that the Old Testament (Hebrew Bible) was primarily a book of laws. It really laid down the law and told of a very angry, jealous God; one who would gladly punish people at the drop of a hat. In fact, it seemed as if this angry deity wanted to punish people and was constantly seeking out ways in which to do so. It told of how it was okay to stone people to death, that we weren’t supposed to wear clothing of mixed fibers, forbidden to eat the fruit off of trees that hadn’t reached a certain age and on and on (most definitely things that most of us don’t practice in this present day). My Sunday school teacher warned about how those of other faiths were going straight to hell upon death. From the standpoint of a child during that time, I felt as if the world was a pretty bad place and that God was anything but loving.
Yet, this contradiction remained; the contradiction of Jesus. Fast forward to the New Testament and we’re told of this guy who comes along telling a completely different story and of what seemed to be a completely different God. Talk about a mind-altering whirlwind and a huge paradox. The words and teachings of Jesus completely contradict the angry God that was portrayed in the OT. I began to wonder which was right. Was God indeed the angry God of the OT or was it the God that Jesus spoke of? Traditional Christianity most often teaches that Jesus was God in the flesh. Based on that knowledge, wouldn’t it stand to reason that the words of Jesus supersede the cruel God of the OT? Are you also now beginning to see the confusion?
I’m not here to kid you. This topic is huge and could take days to discuss. For brevity sake, I’m going to skip right to it. My days within the traditional church taught me that Jesus entered the picture to not only teach us a better way but, to die for our sins. He also mentioned the command to “love one another” many times. I must also mention here that God promised to never again be the angry God that it (God was neither male nor female) was in the OT (click here and here for two examples). So why in the world would God expect for us to show hate and judgment to our fellow human beings? Jesus mentioned multiple times about how we should help the poor, the needy, the sick, etc. He didn’t say to do so only when we felt like it. It was a command.
I have often found myself in discussion with people who seem to use the Bible as a weapon of hate yet for reasons unknown to me, it is either often ignored or met with some kind of rebuttal scripture from the OT.
Enter the grand paradox again because isn’t Christianity based on Jesus and on the belief that he was indeed the Messiah? Seems to me that the teachings of such a person would supersede all else.
Allow me to jump ahead once more and ask the question I am begging to ask. Allow me to ask the question that this entire article has been leading me to ask. Let me also state that I ask this question to those who twist scripture in such a way that it makes it okay to hate fellow human beings who just happen to be born in countries outside of the United States, to hate those with a different color of skin, different religion, different gender (the list could very well be endless).
That question is, do you want to embody the teachings of Jesus, or not?
Also published on Medium.com.