“Keep your chin up as you untangle God from cold blood and bruises.” –Sleeping at Last, Careful Hands
I don’t know if any of you went to my site yesterday, but it didn’t exactly look like this. While I was at motorcycle class all day (which by the way, I passed with an A, amazingly enough!) my site was black and creepy with a picture of someones eye, random Arabic writing and a message in English saying I had been defaced by a Sudanese Islamic group. It just made me laugh to be honest.
I don’t know whether or not it was random or targeted. The same group hit a lot of sites, including all the ones on the missions group server this blog is on.
The family that lives above me are Muslims from Pakistan. When I met them, one of the first things the husband, Mozam said was,
“I am a Muslim, but I like Christians.”
I told him I was a Christian, but I like Muslims.
I have heard many Christians who still think all Muslims are terrorists, and are afraid of or even hate them. But it seems to me that there are terrorists in “Christianity” as well. A terrorist is someone who uses threats of violence to manipulate people. It may not be always be as extreme as kidnappings and suicide bombers, but it’s the same root- using fear and manipulation to control people to do what you want them to do, often in the name of a higher power.
Last night I watched a 20/20 special on a sect called the Independent Fundamental Baptists. I watched it because my friend text me and said a church we knew from New Hampshire was being profiled for covering up rape of a minor and encouraging child abuse, among other things. (One of my favorite bloggers, Matthew Paul Turner of “Jesus Needs New PR” grew up in that cult wrote about it here.)
I didn’t know the pastor personally or anything, but I had heard of him. I passed his church every day on my way to my High School. Sadly, it wasn’t shocking: the story of the fifteen year old getting raped by a man in the church, taking the blame for it from the pastor, having to confess in front of the whole church for her “sin,” being isolated and brainwashed, never reporting it until years later.
It is more common then shocking. What was uncommon, was this girl’s (now a woman) response to all this-
She still loves Jesus. She has not abandoned her faith.
What a brave thing, to choose to untangle God from the mess of broken people who claim to represent Him.
So many people can’t seem to unravel the ropes of religion that have been tied around them…It’s too much for one person. How do you when your thinking is entrenched in the idea that if you loosen those chords, you will be lost, burning forever with the rest of the unchosen?
Motivating by fear and guilt works for a reason. If you can keep people controlled, especially in the name of the Almighty God, they will do whatever you want them to do.
I, like everyone, have had some untangling to do. Splits, accusations, scandal, sexual abuse, emotional manipulation, I’ve seen plenty of it, and have experienced more of it from the Church then “the real world.” It’s a miracle I still consider myself a Christian, really.
I am so thankful for the unending, undying, pursuing love of Jesus.
I am so thankful that while people use fear, guilt and condemnation to motivate, He uses love and grace.
I am so thankful for people in my life that showed me God is love, for honest friends, for leaders that have cared about me and not just what they can get from me.
I am so thankful for forgiveness and time, which heals all wounds.
Jesus used strong imagery when speaking up against people in religious authority who caused others to turn from a God that is love.
“On the other hand, if you give one of these simple, childlike believers a hard time, bullying or taking advantage of their simple trust, you’ll soon wish you hadn’t. You’d be better off dropped in the middle of the lake with a millstone around your neck.” (Mark 9:42-MSG)
Ultimately, those responsible for tying the knots inevitably get caught up in them as well, and end up drowning in their own hate and indifference, all the while still disguised in pious religiosity.
It’s hard not to condemn people like that, but that would mean stooping to their level.
The beautiful thing about grace, is that is it fully offered to those who work so adamantly against it.
Acting in the Spirit of Jesus; love, truth and grace, means taking scissors and cutting those strangling bonds.
And so, my hope is that my words will always be like a thread or two cut, that they would begin to untangle this mess of mixed up doctrine, spiritual abuse, misconceptions and wrong definitions. I don’t claim to know much, but I do know God is love and Amazing Grace has set me free. I know that no matter where you are or how confused or angry you are because of what Christian terrorists have done to you, Jesus offers life to the fullest and He desires to bring you into a deep peace.
Another song by Sleeping at Last, Naive.
religion is a breeding ground
where the devil’s work is deeply found,
with teeth as sharp as cathedral spires,
slowly sinking in.
God knows that i’ve been naive
but i think it makes him proud of me.
now it’s so hard to separate
my disappointments from his name.
because shadows stretch behind the truth,
where stained glass offers broken clues
and fear ties knots and pulls them tight.
it leaves us paralyzed.
but in the end such tired words will rest.
the truth will reroute the narrow things they’ve said.
the marionette strings will lower and untie
and out of the ashes, love will be realized.
God knows that we’ve been naive
and a bit
nearsighted to say the least.
it’s broken glass at children’s feet
that gets swept aside unexpectedly.