I tripped across this blog post by Rachel Held Evans (author of Evolving in Monkey Town and A Year of Biblical Womanhood), and it really struck me — to the point that I decided to sign up for a second Lenten blog entry in a week when I would already be posting (I have other things to say on Maundy Thursday). It’s a fairly long piece, but well worth reading in its entirety if you have some time.
Here’s an excerpt from the blog post:
I am ashamed.
I am ashamed that the Church has become the scariest place to come out instead of the safest, that it routinely shuts out the most vulnerable, the most hurting, the most despised, when those were the people Jesus started with, the people he loved most.
I am ashamed that we are so quick to speak and so slow to listen.
I am ashamed by our lack of imagination, ashamed by our hypocrisy, ashamed by the heavy loads we bind up to place on people’s backs, ashamed by the logs in our eyes and the stones in our hands.
I am ashamed by our failure to love.
She goes on to say, however,
But I am not ashamed of the gospel.
I am not ashamed that when God strapped on sandals and walked among us, God fed the hungry, wept with the mourning, touched the untouchable, turned water into wine, cracked jokes about religion, obeyed his mom, defended the defenseless, bantered with children, forgave his enemies, and reminded us that the whole point of it all is to love God and love our neighbors well. That’s it.
I am not ashamed that when God strapped on sandals and walked among us, God rode a donkey instead of a war horse.
I am not ashamed of the good news that we don’t have to wait around for the right leader or the right government because there’s a new and better kingdom growing in us and around us, a kingdom that welcomes all to the table.
I am not ashamed of the good news that Jesus is Lord and Caesar is not.
You can read the rest over on Rachel’s blog.
This post speaks to me at a deep level. Sometimes I don’t want people to know I’m a Christian, simply because some very vocal (and far off of main-stream) Christians have given the rest of us a bad reputation. But this isn’t just about the far-off-mainstream. This is about our everyday actions. This is about our thoughts, words, and deeds, the things we have done, and the things we have left undone. This is about not loving God with our whole hearts, and not loving our neighbours as ourselves. This is a radical confession that we do not always live our lives according to Jesus’ example. However, it is also a radical confession of our faith in God and the gospel — the good news for the poor and for those in need. It is a call to hold up our heads and unashamedly follow Christ’s example, and to remember that we are citizens of God’s kingdom. It is a call to be more Christ-like.
I, too, am ashamed of how the church is perceived — and the basis for those perceptions. I am ashamed that the church is not a leader in welcoming the marginalized and working for equality for all people. Ghandi reportedly said, “I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. They are so unlike your Christ.” I am ashamed of the truth in that statement. I am ashamed that I too often stay silent in the face of injustice, afraid to speak out lest I offend someone. However, I am not ashamed to follow one of the greatest revolutionaries in recorded history, one who ate with the outcasts, and called for radical changes to the status-quo. I am not ashamed to follow one who loved others unconditionally, and didn’t change his behaviour just because people didn’t like it. I am not ashamed to follow Christ.