Stop Pretending You're a Christian

Christianity is the world's largest religion, and its most identifying characteristic is a belief in the divinity of Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ.  So why don't Christians actually pay attention to what he told us to do?  I can't say for certain, but my guess is it's because most people are assholes ... I mean, sinners.  That's probably a harsh statement to make, because humans have the most amazing capacity for love and kindness, and I have witnessed some of the most remarkable behaviors from my fellow man; but I just cannot reconcile how literally billions of people consider Christianity to be the root of their religious identity and yet totally ignore the teachings of Jesus.

Canon Jesus is Better Than Fanon Jesus

So what does Jesus teach us to do?  Many things, if you listen to his words and learn from his actions, but in Matthew 22:36-40, he literally tells us in response to a Pharisee's inquiry.  

Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.  This is the first and great commandment.  And the second is like unto it: thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.  On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

That's it.  That's the list.

1) Love God

2) Love your neighbor as yourself

It's not complicated, and yet it's incredibly difficult to do in practice.  I'm not here to judge anyone, as I'm fully aware of the massive log in my own eye, but I am so incredibly disheartened by how many Christians refuse to even try.  Jesus calls us to love, and not the kind of fake, judgmental, in-name-only "love" many people practice, where they love someone enough to try to completely change them into something more palatable -- the "love the sinner; hate the sin" mentality that is really just thinly veiled way to justify judging others and often hating them as well.  Jesus didn't say, "pretend to love people, because it makes you feel good about yourself, but mock them in private and invest time and money crusading against their rights as humans."

Love your neighbor as yourself.  It's not easy.  I struggle with it myself, as witnessed by the snarky tone of this post.  Earlier, I categorized the bulk of humanity as assholes.  But I truly do mean that educationally, and to grab your attention, not judgmentally.  I too can be an asshole, but I'm trying, Ringo -- I'm trying real hard to be the shepherd.  Or at least to follow the teachings of the shepherd.  And if you're using comments in the Bible from people not named Jesus to justify not loving others, then you're not following the clear instructions from the founder of the Christian church: love God and love your neighbor.

Stop Pretending

My call to you is not to stop being a Christian or to stop calling yourself a Christian.  On the contrary, my call to you is to stop pretending and start being.  Start being the person God created you to be.  Start being the person Jesus taught you to be.  If you genuinely believe that Jesus was the divine son of the almighty God, if you further believe that he died on the cross to save you, and if you further believe that he was resurrected for eternal life, then it seems like an incredibly small step to actually pay attention to his clear commandments on how to live.  Start loving and serving those who act differently than you, those who look different from you, those who believe differently than you.  Start loving those on the fringes of common society, those who make you a little uncomfortable, those who need your love more than the rest.  Don't "love" them by trying to teach them what you think is wrong with them.  Love them through humble service.  Love them by voting for their rights.  Love them by giving your time and your energy and your money to make their lives better.  That's what Jesus did.  That's what Jesus wants us to do.  And here's the real shocker of it all: loving people with the love of Jesus feels really, really good.  If you just want to do it selfishly for now until it becomes more natural, I'm cool with that.  But stop pretending to be a Christian and start living like one.

Love God. Love your neighbor. If you can't do the first, at least do the second.

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