God is not a Christian, God is not a Jew, or a Muslim, or a Hindu, or a Buddhist. All of those are human systems which human beings have created to try to help us walk into the mystery of God. I honor my tradition, I walk through my tradition, but I don’t think my tradition defines God, I think it only points me to God.―Bishop John Shelby Spong
The year 2015 is the year when everything flipped for me spiritually. Church and Christianity are all that I had known my entire life. 2015 is the year everything about those, once intimately acquainted spaces stopped making sense to me. I became alienated from everything and everyone. Was God even real? Because suddenly, for me, the church no longer resembled the beautiful bride of Christ that I had come to know. I couldn’t wait to complete the term of my leadership responsibilities and be done with that place, once and for all. I couldn’t stand the pretentiousness and hypocrisy. I couldn’t believe the passivity and silence of the church on social injustices. I simply could not get myself to stand by this institution any minute longer. This is when I began the journey to Breaking the Cage of Religion.
Five years later, here I am. Gradually having made my way back to God and Christianity. Although I have never really turned my back on God because deep down, I am a deeply spiritual person and I could never turn my back on God nor even dare denounce His existence. It is in my separation from the church that I learned that God is not Christianity nor is Christianity the founder of God.
God’s people are not God. Theologically, Christians ought to be Christ in this world. However, because we are far from being a finished work, we are rarely ever perfect representations of God even despite all claims of that.
It is when I began to grasp that, that I lowered my expectations of Christians as a group. It was not fair for me to use flawed human beings as stand-in’s for God and who He is. How often do we do that? Christians treat us badly and we find ourselves not only cancelling Christians but cancelling God altogether in the process. (Albeit a perfectly valid reaction and response to abuse). However, I think we forget that just because Christians are saved, it does not make them incapable of being hurtful, flawed and evil-spirited like all other people.
…it was not fair on God to project ill-heartedness on to Him because of Christians who didn’t act right or lovingly. It was not fair on God to describe Him as someone complicit in the face of injustices perpetuated and propagated by the church because of deeply flawed man-made doctrines.
Redemption is a lifetime process, and some only get to truly see God and His transformative work in them at the end of their lives even though they spent all their life in the church. We are all on a redemptive journey and more times than not, we will be victims of being hurt by people in the church. And I believe that these are people who have not yet fully actualized into their Christ-like identity because I believe that when one intimately encounters God, love will govern every interaction they have with other people.
I had to do the work of coming to a place of understanding that my relationship with God is just that—just me and Him. It was never meant to include a whole community, albeit that community may play a crucial role in providing some sort of anchoring for that relationship. But at the end of the day, it was not fair on God to project ill-heartedness on to Him because of Christians who didn’t act right or lovingly. It was not fair on God to describe Him as someone complicit in the face of injustices perpetuated and propagated by the church because of deeply flawed man-made doctrines.
This post is me reclaiming God and Christianity. When I first started this blog four years ago, I always felt unworthy to speak on God because I was not your picture-perfect believer. If I were to be a character of the Bible, I’d probably be a Rahab (a harlot). But guess what? That harlot is one of Jesus’ ancestors. One of the most important insights that I am gaining in this current season of my life is that God is not looking for people who are convinced of their perfection. He is always looking for real. The ones who know that they are messy [and with messy hearts], but still have the courage to go before the feet of Jesus.
May we take up Christianity, if we so wish, even when the world points to us all the ways we are unworthy of it.
So, this post is me boldly reclaiming God and Christianity. Christianity has always been the primary way that I’ve come to know and understand God. It is the only foundation I have and know, and it is the only thing I can ever go back to when I am seeking God.
And as I begin this new journey with The Fertile Wound®, I will write my heart out about who God continues to be in my life. So that when I look back, I’ll see the fine woman that God made out of the woman whose life was imbued with a myriad of flaws, downfalls and weaknesses.
And I hope sometime in the foreseeable future, the church will hold space for individuals to figure God out for themselves. I hope the church will hold space for individuals to be undone and find their feet, no matter how long it may take. And above all, I hope the church will be the kind of space that radiates the unconditional and unrelenting love, patience and understanding that God shows to His children who seem to never get things [right] the first time around.
I’m also sorry to every person who has been hurt by the church or religious folk. I’m sorry for the fact that their hurt left a bitter taste in your mouth and now you don’t want anything to do with Christians and maybe even God. I’m sorry if the ill-treatment of Christians got you questioning God and His acceptance of you.
But my prayer for you, for us, is that God may give us the wisdom to differentiate between God’s people and God Himself. That God may reveal Himself to us afresh, and in ways that reaffirm us and our existence. May we take up Christianity, if we so wish, even when the world points to us all the ways we are unworthy of it. May we ultimately remember that it is God, never flawed human beings, who can draw lines in the sand.