“Christianity” (Intentional Quotation Marks)

I follow a number of bloggers, content writers, and authors on social media. Before, I would follow ones I related to most, funny ones, ones with good parenting perspectives. Now, though, I tend to follow them as more of a case study. What is their writing style? Tone? Vibe? How does their following respond, engage, interact? I want to observe and learn to help improve my own blog, assess my own writings, and grab a few pointers (hopefully) on writing a book of my own.

But this morning, I unfollowed one. A “Christian” one. Eek!

Initially, she was bubbly and spirited. Her writings seemed genuine, and maybe they were (are). She was every bit the messy mom, wife, and woman that I am. I giggled. I was entertained. I often related to her life, full of the mundane yet littered with twisty-turny events, mental health challenges, and typical parenting woes. Good stuff.

Then she got political coupled with using her “Christianity” (intentional quotation marks) as a means to justify her world view. Yikes. I had to bail, and I’ll tell you why.

You know, Christians already get a bad wrap sometimes. We get labeled as preachy and judgey. Folks perceive us as rigid and conservative to our detriment…and to the detriment of society. It’s almost anticipated that a Christian woman is going to be a pushy, high-horse, Bible-Quoting Betty even before she speaks. The stereotype is legit. And don’t get me started on how The World negatively propagandizes Christian men these days. Geez.

Think about it, though. A lot of people are out there angrily quoting random Bible verses out of context to support their positions. Mega churches have more money coming in than some state lotteries. Goofy evangelists are on TV making people fall over and lurch on the floor in the name of some nonsensical sanctification practice or other. We know of a Memphis-based HVAC company that plasters Bible verses on its service vans, yet its techs are the loudest, vilest voices heard at the parts house. Even some our own social media friends and relatives are quick to hop on a Facebook post and offer their lopsided, brimstoney scripture citations to put a heathen in his place. Lordy. It’s no wonder Christians aren’t always viewed favorably.

So this lady…I’m not ripping her. We share the love of words and she, probably just like I do, hopes to impact people in a positive way, writes for therapy, and wants to encourage others. I’m just not keen on being beaten over the head with the “Christian” perspective from ANYBODY clearly not well-versed in Biblical history, proper translation, or context. It’s not ok with me for ANYBODY to take a Bible verse and make it fit ones agenda. It feels greasy when ANYBODY shouts “love” and “light” and “Jesus” as a Christian person as the basis for the faith, for justifying our own life choices, and to make any social justice issue ok or not ok. It’s not cool when ANYBODY allows their “Christian” cronies to gang up on any person, marginalize them, and attack them if the person begs to differ in even a small way. And that was my experience on her page.

This made me question everything. Do we NEVER proclaim to be Christians then? Of course not. Do we never quote the Bible? Sure, we do. Do we not use the Word of God as a guide for our lives? Yes, Ma’am. Do we not share the gospel with others? Oh, we better. Do we never make efforts to correct any misunderstandings, errors in translation, or out-of-context blunders? We might, if we know what we’re doing.

I just think to do that well and accurately, we must get into it ourselves first. We need to be familiar enough with it to quote it accurately and within the proper context. We need to understand as best we can what Jesus preached to the people or what God intended for the Isrealites before we throw our Biblical weight around in a Facebook comment or a blog post. I think that working on our personal relationship with God will allow that “love” and “light” of Jesus to shine through us naturally and without our making any effort to put the spotlight on ourselves or force anybody else into the “light” with our lectures. I think that praying for how we can each be used as vessels the way God would have us used is key, and I think that His goodness and mercy and grace has to start in us first before we can go around condemning folks and ordering them towards heaven. God can even sort out context and give us the right words. We just need to ask Him for that guidance first, instead of blindly asserting ourselves as experts on scripture and how it applies to anybody’s life. Is that even any of our business?

I probably won’t get into any LGBTQ issues on my blog. I feel like it’s my responsibility and duty as a Christian to love people. Period. I won’t tell anybody they are going to hell for getting an abortion, because I feel like it’s my responsibility and duty as a Christian to seek God with my own heart and not question another person’s heart since I’m not inside them and can’t possibly know what is. I probably won’t get preachy about legislation, since I feel like it’s my responsibility and duty as a Christian to walk the walk. I’ll be active in my community, help people, give, live my values, and vote accordingly. And I sure won’t allow my followers to bash other folks who have an opposing opinion, nor will I join them in a virtual gang attack, as I believe it is my responsibility and duty as a Christian to be kind, exercise some humility, and work to bridge any gaps in a thoughtful, cooperative, inclusive way. It can be done.

Bless this lady. I didn’t dislike her. I disliked the vibe. The “Christian” platform was there, but it was way off, distorted, inaccurate. In my never-so-humble opinion, it made Christians look bad. The gentleness, the humility, the seek-first-to-understand…they were all missing. I saw more passive-aggressive “let me tell you what to believe and why you’re wrong” than anything else. Wasn’t my bag.

It helped me learn, though. It made me take a look at my own Christianity, how I express it and apply it, how I come across to people, how God uses me, and how I might be used. It helped me examine my writing, my voice, and my intentions for my words. I learned that having supporters, followers, and encouragers is wonderful, but mob mentality is real and can spread like wildfire. It gets ugly.

The bottom line is that I’m not a Biblical scholar. I know enough to confidently share God’s Word and His promises to anybody who wants to listen, and I will share it in an elementary, easy-to-follow, loving way as I believe that’s what God asks of me. I might ask myself “what would Jesus do”, but I’m not Jesus. He is bigger, more tolerant, more gracious, more loving, more understanding, more helpful, more everything than I will ever be. I’m not sure how much Bible commentary you’ll get with me, and you certainly won’t find me jumping your butt about your lifestyle or your choices while I hit you over the head with a scripture that speck-of-dust-sinner me thinks justifies my opinion.

I want to be the Christian God wants me to be. I am constantly working to figure that out every day. I want to love people and help. I want people to feel warm in my presence and be filled by my words. I hope I’m love and light and joy and all good things for my kids, for my husband, for readers. I want to be surrounded by kind, beautiful souls who share my joy and my desire to love big regardless of religion or personal relationship with God. I want to influence that if I can, but respect others’ journeys and give people space to spiritually be.

I guess I am glad I found that lady after all. I won’t follow her. She’s not my people. I don’t want to question her Christianity, but I don’t want to stick around and be a part of it either. But she did teach me a lot. I’m grateful for that. Maybe God used her to reach me in His mysterious way. That’s how he works, right?

Published by Amanda Herring, Writer

Practical wisdom, joys and pains, motivation and tough love, from the perspective of a Mississippi mom, traveler, business owner, goal crusher, substance seeker, and full-time dreamer

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