Stephanie here: Jesus claimed to be a door. No, wait, he claimed to be THE door. He’s not afraid to tell us that he isn’t going to accept any other entry point to heaven. And there’s a really good reason for this. It’s because he knows that it’s true. Isn’t that so simple and easy for Christians to see and believe? Yup!
(I’d like to introduce another perspective, so bear with me.)
This message is so clear, and so unapologetic, that it kind of sounds ugly. Doesn’t it? I mean, haven’t we heard that every religion is basically the same and leads to the same place? All dogs go to heaven, right?
In a world full of apparent crevices and footholds that seem to be able to take us deeper into the spiritual realm without using that antiquated, outdated door, why would anyone stop to look at Jesus? I mean, he’s the religious leader of the far right, isn’t he? He’s the one that all of them quote when they try to say that our friendly, kind-hearted gay neighbor is evil. They say that LGBTQ people are tainted and filthy, and that children shouldn’t be exposed to them. Yet they say all kinds of terrible things in front of children, especially bad things about gays.
But my neighbor, and just about every LGBTQ person I know is a gracious, sweet human being who wouldn’t hurt a fly, and the idiots who speak against them don’t even have the sense to know that mysogyny isn’t a good thing. They also don’t realize that making fun of people is unnecessary in this day and age. These guys all yell and scream, shaking their heads until loose neck skin jiggles around. Nope, the Jesus that people like this talk about doesn’t appeal to me at all.
But wait, there’s this series called “The Chosen,” where a very interesting, very unique guy appears and begins changing people’s lives. They spend time with him, and suddenly, they’re kinder, friendlier, and more open, accepting, and gentle. They embrace other people. I love this guy. I kind of wish I were there with him and that I could get to know him personally.
Darn, I just realized that they gave this character an unfortunate name, though. Jesus? Wow, what a bad idea. Who’s going to want to watch this, when it sounds like the guy who makes all these people say terrible things about my gay neighbor? I wish they’d named the character Ghandi, MLK or something inspirational. Naming him Jesus was a terrible choice!
Hi, there. This is Stephanie again. I wanted to take you into the mind of a random young kid on the street. A teenager, a college student, or just about everyone who has never set foot in a church. They like people, usually, but they don’t like the word “Christian” “Jesus” or “Judeo-Christian Values.” Those words don’t sound the same to them.
They don’t want to follow your Christ. They honestly don’t want to have anything to do with you right now. And you don’t even understand how much damage you’re doing to their spiritual lives while you boldly and rudely stand up against anything and everything, all while forgetting to share the love of Christ personally with these young people.
Of course, there are exceptions. There are people like my friend who will boycott companies and vote Republican, and who always has a smile and a hug for everyone around them. There are folks who vote independently of political party lines and who also strive to be informed about not just issues from a Christian point of view, but also try to understand what life looks like through the eyes of those on the other side. There are absolute liberals who believe that while Christ is at the center of their lives, their vote needs to be about social issues and not about religion. And they all love Jesus.
Does that scare you? Do you want everybody to be exactly alike? I would like that, too. But only if they were like me. See where I’m going with this? If we all tried to decide what everyone else should do and think, we’d all begin to look like jerks to one another. So let’s not. Please.
Today, I wrote all this to remind you that there’s a world that we’re supposed to impact. There are people who really need to know Jesus, if you believe like I do, that he’s THE door. And how can we reach them?
Let’s try a new way. Let’s stop shouting and start hugging, embracing, and involving ourselves in their lives in ways that don’t compromise our stand for Christ, but in ways that might actually make other Christians angry. Let’s do the stuff that Jesus really did. Let’s spend time with unbelievers at a barbecue in a park that we are hosting. Let’s listen to the lyrics of a young person’s song and choose to admire the musicality while gently explaining what we believe might be a bad idea in the message. Let’s try to help our friends by first making friends. It’s what Jesus did.
Of course, avoid triggers. You won’t find me watching porn, “Fifty Shades,” or “Magic Mike.” That type of stuff is a trigger for me. But you could have seen me listening to some pretty ratchet regaaeton lyrics in order to better understand what motivated my grown nephew and my son at the time. You might have heard me discuss Daoism and atheism with my cousin and actually admit that some of the thinking is logical, if misguided. You might see me standing close to my friend while she smokes her cigarette and talking to her about how the smell reminded me of my birth mom. (We weren’t all born in a church, you know.)
I don’t know how to end this. Usually, I’d find a really great way to encourage, uplift, or bring you back down from the fuming anger that my words might have ignited, but you know what? I’m not going to do it. Take that discomfort you feel, and do something with it. The ball is in your court. Tag! You’re it! What ya gonna do ’bout it?