Love. It’s Pretty Simple, Really.
I spent this morning running with two friends rambling about how angry I became yesterday reading the most recent ” Interpreter.” This is a bimonthly magazine published by the United Methodist Church and sent to members nationally. To be honest, it normally doesn’t reach the top of the reading pile before it reaches the recycling bin, but yesterday I found myself without other reading material and with an unexpected handful of free minutes.
The stories are a great reflection of what’s happening in congregations nationwide. They are exactly what you may expect — super successful bake sales, cookbook ideas, fundraisers for homeless outreach, book reviews, military ministry, etc. There is typically the foreign mission story too — where we pat ourselves on the backs for nets distributed in African malarial zones, clean wells dug in remote South American villages, hospitals built in Asia. These stories fill my spiritual sails. The idea of being a member of an international church that prides itself on works of God — building schools, wells, hospitals — versus going door to door trying to convert people with the Bible, perfectly suits me. Actions speak so much louder than words.
(See any of the recent anti-gay sex scandals involving male evangelical ministers and their lovely boy toys as exhibit A.)
It seems harder than ever to claim Christianity in this American life. As a Christian, I am under a microscope. I know my every word and action are examined for fault — for proof that I’m no better than anyone else and that my beliefs are silly. Let it be said loud and clear that I have many faults, many of my beliefs are silly (love me some Nacho Libre) and no, I am certainly not better than anyone else.
But apparently, I am more compassionate. Because when I got to the back of this copy of “Interpreter,” imagine my shock, anger and disgust at the letters to the editor that came from a handful of communities across the country denouncing: gay marriage, gay members in the church, helping illegal immigrants, and perhaps the most hysterical — how yoga is a pagan ritual Christians should not participate in.
I’m tempted to write letters back but instead I’ll just stand on this little blog pulpit and scream my loudest:
Hey Christians! If we don’t collectively figure out how to stop being such a bunch of judgmental, hypocritical assholes — we are going to end up the with the dinosaurs and dodos. (Yes, Peggy J. Norris of Bolton, North Carolina — I’m looking at you. Really? You don’t think God loves gay people? Pretty sure God said love everyone. Everyone, Peggy. Not just people like you. Everyone. All. Todo. Tout. Get it?)
And Alan Blackford of Shelbina, MO — as person who lives in Arizona I can tell you that taking water to illegal immigrants in the desert is something I would proudly be arrested for. Again, while you cite a handful of verses on how we as Christians are to obey the law, I’ll repeat what Jesus said was the most important commandment —love God and love your neighbors as yourselves. Next time you decide to escape the snow and fly south for the winter, to say, Tucson — I pray that you have enough water. Because God forbid you get a little too tan on that vacation and be parched. I’d hate for a Christians with your mindset to pass you by, citing federal immigration law as a reason we shouldn’t help our fellow man. I also pray that you take a good look around your own neighborhood and consider why, Mr. Blackford, your people were allowed to immigrate so freely. (I’ll take a huge leap here and say perhaps our people were on the same boat from Europe. The pasty white boat.) In other words, DUDE! Stop the hate. Think a bit bigger. Think how miserable it would be to roam a desert for, say, 40 days and nights without food and water.
And for you, Lafe Tolliver of Toledo, Ohio — I can only say namaste. May the Lord be with you and may Saint Peter meet you at the pearly gates in a full downward dog to show what an ass you’ve made of yourself to suggest yoga is an “occult novelty.” Really? You mean to tell me there isn’t some social justice issue a bit more important in Toledo you couldn’t get behind? Is this really the best use of your energy? I think not Lafe. In fact, I think you sound a little tense. Could I suggest some Bikram? It would do wonders for your energy and for your attitude. Stretching, learning to meditate and being at peace is not in opposition to our faith! In fact, I’m pretty sure Jesus was a fan of all three.
But most importantly, I am certain that this bickering of how to behave and who to love is pointless. It is a waste of our effort as United Methodists and as Christians. If you feel so strongly that someone is living in opposition to your faith — then lead your life the way you see fit. Show them through actions!
And again, the point of our faith, of our walk with Christ is clear: We are here to comfort each other. We are here to be the light. We are here to love and be love!
That’s right. Peggy, Alan, Lafe — I love you. You are numbskulls, but I love you.
Be well, amigos.