I am thinking about my Pastor’s sermon yesterday. He spoke about overcoming theological differences to work together. I couldn’t help but think about two things: first, why focusing on being right does more harm than good, and, second, the story of the Samaritan Woman, in the Gospels.
His sermon was spot on; he spoke the truth. Denominationally, Christians spend too much time working against each other. This is sad, because we are all, well, most of us, working toward the same goal—working out God’s will. Pastor Bill used the example of the apostles rebuking a stranger casting out demons, in Jesus’s name. Because they didn’t know him, and didn’t think he, this man, believed like they did, so they didn’t want him teaching in Christ’s name. Sound familiar? Jesus disagreed.
It was a great sermon.
Jesus rebuked his apostles for their actions with this stranger. In addition, however, I wanted to bring up my favorite bible story, which I think is a great example of seeing each other how-God-sees-us, and not how we see each other.
Everyone knows her story—the Samaritan woman. Samaritans were enemies of Israel. The two races hated each other. Yet, this woman’s encounter at the well is the de-facto, perfect example of God’s grace. See, she was the black sheep in her community. She had lived a life of immorality—per her community’s standards. Yet, when she confessed her sins, Jesus did not shame her, he did not rebuke her, and he did not tell her she was unworthy. See, her community found her lifestyle disgusting, and, yet, Jesus only considered how much he loved her. The world condemned her, but Jesus loved her. The world told her to change, but Jesus asked her to follow him. She saw the world different than all the “holy ones who were right,” and Jesus took no issue, I repeat: no issue, with her. He did not point fingers, and he did not shame her. He did not condemn her. In fact, he empowered her to be his messenger to her community.
Think about that for one-minute. Today, in America, and around the world, Christians marginalize those who don’t fit their pharisee-lifestyle. All Are Welcome unless you are LGBTQ+ or a progressive; all are welcome as they are, as long as they change. They call out to Jesus, and beg him to pay their bills, and give them promotions, but he is busy counseling and loving the damaged and broken. God could care less who a person sleeps with or identifies as, because, if he did, Jesus would have said something about it. The American Evangelical Church runs rampant with cognitive dissonance.
Fortunately, I am an Episcopalian and we are LGBTQ+ affirming, and we have openly gay clergy, etcetera. However, when I think back to my conservative, bible thumping days, I can’t help but regret the hurts I believed and spread. My pastor’s sermon yesterday, was a good reminder, though, that my bitterness, my memories of hurt, aren’t helping anyone, collectively, work together and do God’s Will. I must love my enemies.
I’m not saying Christianity is relative. That would be far from the truth. No, what I am saying is: God’s love and grace is not extended to a Church in-the-right, but to all who call on his name, and live his will—loving one another as they love theirselves, and loving God with all their heart, mind, body, and soul. God doesn’t care about your sexuality, race, gender, correct beliefs, etcetera. You are loved, as you are, and the only change you need to make is to remember to take Jesus with you in your everyday. Who you are is how he made you, and that is how he wants you. The world broke you. Let Jesus heal you. Because Love is Love, and nobody loves you more than Christ.
If you have been pushed out-of-the-faith by mainstream, Americanized Christianity and their putrid hatred towards those who do not believe exactly like them, I want you to know you can always email me, and we can heal together. God loves you. His word was never meant to be a weapon against you. Come join us progressive christians if God’s love, mercy, and grace is enough for you.