Friday, May 20, 2011

LOVE, an apology, and the end of the world

I’m trying to wrap my brain around my feelings about the hub-bub around the idea that the rapture will occur tomorrow (5/21). Admittedly, I’m kind of a news snob and tend to get my news from NPR, which hasn’t been giving the whole thing a lot of airtime. I am also (admittedly) a Facebook junkie and all of the sudden, I’m seeing this whole notion all over my newsfeed. And it makes me sad.

Sad, not because people are making jokes about the second coming of Jesus. Rather, I’m sad because of what our culture thinks of Christians. Hear me loud & clear, I’m NOT blaming the culture. I’m blaming the Christians, of which I am one.

Let me clarify again... I’m not blaming individual Christians, or ALL Christians, but I can’t help but look at this little circus around “May 21st” and feel like something is horribly amiss.

I find myself wanting to apologize to people who are not Christians. I want to apologize for the ways that Christianity has let our culture down. I want to apologize that the idea of Jesus coming again gets translated into billboards and condemning speeches, instead of an opportunity to show people God’s love. I want to apologize that so many people who are “Christians” have done such a poor job of following Jesus’ two most important directives: to love God with everything they are and to love other people.

I find myself wondering if tomorrow really WAS to be the rapture, why aren’t people running around trying to love each other like crazy? (And since Jesus says He doesn’t actually even know when then end of the world will be (Matt 24:36), I just don’t buy that some preacher-man has the inside scoop). Shouldn’t we, as followers of Christ, be loving people *every day* with an intensity as though tomorrow was the end? Shouldn’t we be loving people with everything we’ve got every day, like it is our opportunity to show how much we (and God) love them? Isn’t loving people the very root of what Jesus came to do and called us to follow Him into?

I know some really wonderful Christians who show the love of Christ to the people around them. I know people who take the call to follow Jesus with a sincerity of heart that brings me to tears. I’ve experienced the love of a community of Christ-followers in the darkest days of my life. I believe with everything that I am that there are pockets where people are living out love in every way God intends for it to work.

I also know that there are so many people out there for whom the word “Christian” brings an instant sense of nausea. And I concede that, for many reasons, that reaction can be so well deserved. I also freely acknowledge that I used to be a person who rolled their eyes and was disgusted when I heard that someone was a Christian. Because here’s what I thought that would mean: I felt it would mean that person thought they were better than me, that they would judge me for my behavior, that they would not approve of who I was, that they were closed-minded, elitist, and conservative, that they were a hypocrite, and frankly, that they were

Never in my assessment did I think that this person was in my world to show me, in practical, tangible ways, that God loved me.

Maybe you are reading this and you are thinking, “yep, that is what I think about Christians.” Maybe you have other icky qualities you’d like to add to the list. And, in so many cases, you’d be absolutely right.

What I’d like to think is that you are reading this and thinking, “Wait a minute, I have Christian friends/family, and nobody in the world loves me better than them!” How I pray that is the case.

And that is why I’m sad about this end-of-the-world business. Because I’m seeing anew that Christians, as a whole, have done a pretty poor job of representing the main point of Jesus, that point being LOVE.

I don’t sit here pretending, at all, that I represent Jesus well, every day, all the time. I don’t always love you like I wish I did. I don’t always make loving choices. I don’t always engage with other people’s needs. But what I can tell you, is that because of the way that I’ve encountered the love of Jesus and people who love Him, I am a different person that I used to be. And that change drives me to WANT to be more loving to the people in my world, whether they follow Jesus or not. It is because I’ve received great love that I’m learning to share great love.

And so, friends, I just want to say I’m sorry. I’m sorry for the ways that the whole of Christianity has failed and I am sorry for the ways that I, personally, have failed in love. But I do hope you will continue to give me the opportunity to show you what I believe Jesus is really all about--a deep, deep love for YOU.

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