and you shall know them….
Twice in recent weeks, I have been told that I am “a very good Christian woman” by people I didn’t know who witnessed something I’d said or done. I just smiled and said thank you and wished them a pleasant day.
Now, I think most of you out there reading this know that I am not a Christian, and I haven’t been one for years. There are still parts of Christianity that ring true to me at times, and funny, but those are the parts that the “Public Face” of Christianity seems to be lacking these days.
I generally don’t like to put labels to what I believe and when pressed I will mumble something about being an eclectic shamanic witch with agnostic or panentheistic leanings (depending on how I’m feeling about the Divine at that moment)…but I can say whatever the label I put on what I believe, the driving impetus of that belief is love and kindness. (From that stems service and the sharing of self, but that isn’t my point for this post so I won’t bend your ear on it).
The love in my heart, in my being, drove me to leave behind a religion I had come to feel was hateful and hurtful and incapable of understanding what love, unconditional, sacred love, actually is. If I were to judge by the world I see around me today, that continues to be true.
If you believe that the Bible is the word of God, and the bible tells you in Matthew that “you will know them by their fruits” and in Galations that “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,”…even this Pagan can look at Pastors who preach from the pulpit how much they HATE another they have never met, or teaches their congregation to HATE homosexuals or Muslims, or prays that another would die a horrible death…I can look at that and tell you those are some pretty ugly fruits they’re dangling.
It scares me, the level of hatred I see in the world around me…the number of people claiming to know what God thinks, what he wants and inevitably the people screaming these things are wearing the label of Christian and all they seem to want to talk about is everyone else’s “sin” and how God hates.
Taking a step back from religion for a moment, I have to also say that, that kind of hate? It’s exhausting. It’s bad for you physically. It’s bad for you emotionally. It can interfere in your relationships, it can destroy marriages and parental bonds. It can affect your heart and your blood pressure.
Here’s how I look at things these days. When something comes up in politics or news or my daily life that others feel the need to have me judge in some way, I come at it like this: Does it immediately affect me or my family? If yes, in a good way or a bad way? Does it marginalize, demonize or demoralize any person or group? Is it any of my business? Does it promote absolute equality? Does it promote love and kindness? More often than not, these questions lead me to judge that it’s none of my concern.
If we look at current events, lets say the chaos in McKinney: Does a racist cop and/or teacher affect me or my family? Not directly. Does it marginalize, demonize or demoralize any person or group? Yes, it does. Is it any of my business? Not overtly, but in the general, societal me, it does. Does it promote equality, love and kindness? Not even. Judgment? Cop and Teacher need to be educated and invited to take jobs in positions less likely to cause them to cause harm to others.
How about Caitlyn Jenner? Does her coming out affect me or my family? Not particularly, though some may take more interest in it than others. Does it marginalize, demonize or demoralize any person or group? Nope. Is it any of my business? Nope. Does it promote equality, love and kindness? Well, in ways it does…or is a request for them. Either way, live and let live. Her life is her life.
Okay, I’ll climb down off this soap box now and return you to your regularly scheduled perusal of the interwebs and cat videos. I will continue to hope everyone finds a way past the hate in their hearts to find the love that they have buried so deeply within. Unconditional, life changing, unbelievable love. Religion optional.