Good Jesus, Bad Jesus

What is the heart and soul of Christianity in America?

If you pay attention to most of the news related to Christianity, what you see is hatred and intolerance, militarism and fascism, a lockjawed embrace of ignorance, and a blind adherence to principles which seem to actually fly in the face of those presented by Christ himself.

Last week I was fortunate (blessed?) to have the opportunity to see the two extremes of Christian behavior, and while the first was disheartening, the second was wonderful.

First, the suck.

One of my friends on Facebook recommended a new friend named Sandy to me, and being the generally agreeable guy I am, I clicked to invite her. Some time later, I received this message from the woman in question:

I received your friend request but have to refuse. I am conservative Christian. It is too much that you are liberal but when I saw you were into the occult that was just way to much.I have no tolerance for liberals and much less for anyone who gets involved in evil. Hope you find your way out of that because you are heading for hell.

My goodness. Aside from the fact that she blows my rather unformed and informal interest in paganistic spirituality (i.e., I see the sacred in the natural world) into occult evil, she has “no tolerance for liberals.” No tolerance.

Just like Jesus.

For rhetorical effect, and the joy of irony, I embraced the tolerance of actual pagan religion to reply to her:

Go with love, Sandy. My faith encourages me to have compassion and understanding toward people even if they are different from me, so I regret we cannot be friends, but harbor no ill feelings toward you for it.

She responded:

You don’t have a faith you have an invitation to hell. The one giving you the encouragement is none other but ole Beezlebub himself.What a horrid tragic choice you have made for your life. Your future is burning in hell and I can’t help but wonder where mentally you got your self so messed up that you would choose eternity in hell. Of course I have compassion for you, who wouldn’t but it is pretty hard to understand how a mind can become so mixed up with demons. There is nothing grand about saying you are involved in evil but your choice and I know the ending and for you it isn’t going to be pleasant.

Speaking the truth is not being judgmental. It is called speaking the truth.. Your liberal wording reminds me of when a liberal says an area of water is a delicate wetland.. No it isn’t, it’s called a swamp. or liberals call it same sex marriage, It is called legal perversion. Lets tell it like it is. You are involved in a horrible evil entity that is going to take to straight to the pits of hell itself if you stay in it. That is not being judgmental that is the truth. You tack your words on if you want but I am being up front and totally honest.

The warmth of her Christian love makes me feel all toasty and safe, how about you?

That’s enough about Sandy. Let’s move on to someone who Sandy would despise as much as, or possibly even more than, she does me:  a true Christian.

Lisa Bertolini blogs about her own spiritual journey at her blog Soul Liberty Faith:

Soul Liberty Faith is a place where I share my personal journey, my walkabout with Agape, exploring all that grace is. To live with soul liberty is to have freedom to follow Agape, as Agape guides us. This journey might look different than your own and yours might look different than mine. My walkabout is a journey in the wilderness of grace being led by faith. There are times when I step out where there is nothing visible to stand on and that’s why faith is so important to me. I believe in the sovereignty of God to do as He wills in my life on this journey and while that which many might call evil, falls upon me, or crosses my path, I rest in His unchanging grace that there is a purpose for those times. May we uplift one another to walk by faith in this glorious grace, for that is where we are the safest.

On August 2nd, in a post titled “Pagan Kinfolk,” she shared her experiences with pagans online and in a Lughnasadh ritual she attended and participated in:

About a month ago, I was inspired to volunteer for a work day with some local Pagans. The thing that inspired me? Seeing Christian mom bloggers bashing Pagan mom bloggers and watching the Pagans have more grace than many Christians did. The kindness they expressed while suffering from the cyber ‘witch hunt’ stopped me dead in my tracks. I had the most wonderful opportunity to get to know these bloggers better and they have been quite gracious to me and all my questions about their faith. The more I read their blogs the more I realized we had something really incredible in common. So I spread my wings and ventured out to the local park work day with the local group of Pagans in my town. After spending a few hours having a fantastic discussion with my new friend, Stella, I became more intrigued with their spirituality. I decided to go to their Lughnasadh High Day Ritual.

Who is more Christlike? Sandy, who won’t “tolerate” those who are different, or Lisa, who goes lovingly to learn and share spiritual common ground with those of different faith?

Some may be in fear for me and my family as we have taken this incredible journey, but I can assure you that my friendship with Pagans has solidified my faith in Christ more than I could have imagined. Yes, their own spiritual journey has deepened my own. But not because they are ‘opposite of Christ’ or ‘of the devil’ like many Christians claim. In fact, I have seen more Christ (Anointing) in their spirituality than I see in many churches today.

I know which I want to hang out with.

Lisa’s account is a beautiful read, very moving and thoughtful and wise. I encourage you to read it and see the face of a Christianity that exists all too often in the shadow of the politically crusading and hate-filled “faith” we see in America these days, as well as the loving face of modern paganism.

Go read it here. Really. Go.

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4 comments on “Good Jesus, Bad Jesus

  1. This is something I think on often. I’m Jewish, which doesn’t prevent me from believing that Jesus was quite an inspiring man. When I hear hate spewed by people who claim to walk in his footsteps, I feel an ache of sadness as I wonder, “But how are you following him? Following in name alone means so little.”

    I perceive a huge divide between Jesus’s teachings and the words and actions of some of the most public “Christians” I know. And I wonder, how can this be lost to them?

    Jesus’s message seems so simple to me: Love. The judgment stuff? That’s up to G-d, who has both superior knowledge and insight.

  2. Madison Woods says:

    I’m glad I found your blog. If you visit mine, on the surface it appears to be a writer’s blog…maybe. But I think you’d feel at home there and on my homesteading blog.

  3. kaysydney says:

    “I have nothing to offer anyone except my own confusion.” Jack Kerouac. As for me I prefer Lisa’s Christianity to Sandy’s. Fanatics always leave me a bit puzzled. To be a kind person is most congruent with my philosophy of life. I must admit I did pray that you would be ok when you had your health scare. I was pleased it all turned out ok.

  4. Steve says:

    He spoke also this parable to certain people who were convinced of their own righteousness, and who despised all others. “Two men went up into the temple to pray; one was a Pharisee, and the other was a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed to himself like this: ‘God, I thank you, that I am not like the rest of men, extortioners, unrighteous, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week. I give tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing far away, wouldn’t even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
    — Luke 18:9-14

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