In the words of the great philosopher, Tom Petty: I won’t back down

It’s been an interesting week. I launched this little blog thinking maybe (maybe!) ten people would be interested in reading it. Well, turns out a lot more than that read it, and it seems to have touched a nerve. Either you loved it or hated it. For what it’s worth, I think that’s true about me in real life, too, and I’ve never been sure if that’s good or bad.

I took a little bit of heat for admitting that I have a potty mouth, but those that loved my post and shared it with others got A LOT of heat. I didn’t even know that profanity was such a controversial topic, but apparently it is to some. After a little anxiety, a lot of conversation, some prayer and reflection, here’s where I’ve landed.

I believe the reason this post appealed to so many is this: many of us are tired of the judgment, criticism and hypocrisy of the church establishment. Those that shared the post felt as if a fresh breeze had just blown in and wanted to share that feeling with others, especially those they know and love who have been deeply hurt by the church. They wanted to say, “See, we Christians are just regular people like everyone else. We are willing to admit our faults, our problems, let you see that we aren’t perfect. And Jesus is still madly in love with us just like he is with you.”

That felt threatening to some. I have no doubt that these are well-intentioned people, but I nonetheless am sickened by the effort. I don’t think the argument had anything to do with bad words. The difference between the two sides comes down to a disagreement about our fundamental role as Christians. Is it our job to establish ourselves as the moral authority for all? Is it our role to police those around us and point out one another’s failings? Is it our foremost priority simply to be right?

Much of the church believes that we have to be good to get to God. And because so many believe that, we as a whole work really, really hard to be good, pretend we’re good or have other people believe we’re good. And when we feel insecure about our good-ness, we point to others’ bad-ness to make us feel better.

And those of us that have been told that our sins are worse than the next guy’s stay away from church because we feel the hatred seeping out. We believe Jesus can’t love us because the people who say they love Jesus don’t love us. Well, you know what? Those are lies, and I’m tired of the voice of the judgmental Christian speaking for the whole group. They don’t speak for me.

I think our understanding of God is a little bit like looking through a pair of cracked, broken eyeglasses. If I’m lucky, on a good day when I’m standing in just the right position where my eye lines up with a clear unbroken section of spectacle, then I can see clearly some of the truths about who God is and what he wants from my life. Even what I can see clearly still isn’t the whole picture, though. But most of the time, I’m peering through the cracks of broken lenses trying to make sense of it all. And we’re all peering through our own version of cracked lenses.

I think the problem with Christians is that we forget that each and every one of us is looking through broken lenses- lenses that have been shaped by hurt and disappointment, lies and failure. No one has the moral authority of God himself, and it’s not our place to dictate it to others. What would it look like if instead of being wrapped up in other people’s ideas of Jesus, we just looked to Jesus himself?

I’m not going to apologize for admitting I have a potty mouth. I won’t back down and pretend that I am perfect or striving for perfection so that your Christian worldview is set aright. It’s okay to be flawed and broken and even wrong. You don’t have to be good to get to God. I’m no theologian or Biblical scholar, but here’s what I think is important: Jesus loves me and he loves you. He never said for us to judge the lifestyles, sins or sanctification of others. He simply said to love one another as he loves us.

I’ll be the first to admit, I’m not good at love. I’m selfish, rude, unkind and a whole host of ugly things. But, you know what? Jesus still loves me just the way I am- right smack in the middle of a life-long journey to get closer to him. The journey isn’t easy, and I don’t have a roadmap. I fall and get back up. Sometimes I just lay down in the middle of the road because it just feels like too much to keep going. But, that’s where I am, and I’m okay with that.

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