20070728

what are you?

i was talking with a person not to long ago that seemed rather "upset" - actually, they were very upset - with my refusing to take on words like "christian" or "evangelical" or "saved" or "whatever" in connection with my faith walk. while they seemed to be upset with a great many things about me, that was one of the biggest - the "other biggest" later in the week - so they asked me, "well, what are you?" as if i needed to "be something" they could define to be me; to be someone. i was rather insulted, and asked for them to "go deeper" with the request - well, this upset them even more and they pulled the "it depends on your definition of it" line from the clinton slap-down; as if that was going to make me back down in fear. so i said, "ok, you know more about these things then i seem to know, so then what am i?"

they did not seem to have an answer; what they wanted was to "direct" the conversation and have me "admit" i was a lost puppy in need of their guidance "back to the lord" this way they could make me think that i saw my path was wrong - so they asked me again, "what are you? if you are not christian, what are you?" so i said, "humm, let me see, how about 'a follower of jesus.'" they said, "so that makes you a christian." not sure it does, in fact i am pretty sure it does not. let me explain -

being a follower of jesus means i place the words of jesus above all others - now, we can debate over what jesus did and did not say - but all in all, i take the worlds of jesus over paul and others; most "christian" while claiming they do, truly don't. in fact, i take the words of james and jude [brothers of jesus] over the words of paul - after all, they lived with jesus and paul never met the guy. so, who knows jesus better then jesus and his brothers and sisters?

i also think being a follower of jesus means i am willing to follow in jesus' foot steps, and not in the foot steps of preachers and pastors who think their shit doesn't stink. i care less what robertson, hybell, or any other preacher has to say - i look to jesus as an example of how i am to live and how i am to interact with others. i look at most preachers and pastors and i see how i do not desire to act, or how i do not desire to be - if looking at them means i believe i should be doing what they are not doing, then following them seems all out stupid.

another thing i think shows a difference is that being a follower of jesus means i do not care about the church, because it is not a place where support, comfort or grace can be found - if the church is just like every other place, filled with "people who are lost" then what value is the church? if they are just as lost as i am, why would i follow them? why would i want to be a member of such a club? if they treat me just like everyone else, why join their club? heck, if i join the loin' i at least get a lunch out of the deal.

over the past years, i, and my family, have been abused by the church and used by the church and hurt by the church too many times to count. the "church" always uses the same excuse to justify what they do and how they act, that say, "we are imperfect humans and sometimes that means we hurt each other" - may i suggest they read scripture and find out we are suppose to be changed! we are not suppose to hurt each other, and we are never to hurt another to the point of them walking away from the church - and in reality, when i interview those who have left the church most of the time it is because they were treated poorly.

what am i? simple, i am me; a follower of jesus - nothing more and nothing less. i care for others, love others and strive to do what is right each and every day by others. i am willing to do what it takes to help others and to love those who walk with me as jesus loved me, and those who are walking in different paths, i love as i love myself. i have no idea where this faith walk will lead, but i can assure you i am not evangelical - because i just don't like the uniform and the commitment is lose; i am not a "christian" because that carries with it some big bags that mean nothing and simply cause a great deal of pain to others. i like where God has brought me, and i am comfortable with my faith walk - i can only hope others are also.

10 comments:

Mike Todd said...

Preach it man. I too am a follower of Jesus, or at least I'm trying to be. It ain't easy. Come to think of it, that's another point of differentiation. It's easy to be a Christian. You just tick a box and you're in. No following of Jesus--as in actually trying to do what the guy told us to do--required.

In our little community we also differentiate between being believers and apprentices. Being a believer only requires us to think a certain way, while being an apprentice means we must try to live differently. As we like to say, we've tried being believers but we no longer thing that's what God had in mind.

Joy said...

John,

When I stepped out into this path, two years ago... with fear and trepidation... Your voice gave me hope that I was not alone. You reminded that there was a Jesus that I had forgotten about, but that He had not forgotten about me.

I am still following Jesus out here in NC. I just want you to know that you touched my life. You and Tina, though I didn't get to know either of you well, were like sweet water to a parched soul.

The attempt in Hickory, I don't know what happened, was awesome! I am just guessing that Hickory was not ready. Too bad, really.

Don't be squeezed into the holes and squares! You are awesome, that is what you are!!

Will Young said...

Well versed John, I wish others understood what it means to do things, or say things "In the name of Jesus."

If they did, like you, I feel the world would be a much better place.

I've never commented, but I enjoy your blog immensely.

Mike L. said...

Thanks for this post John. I'm right there with you. I bet there are many more people who accept the message of Jesus but are ready to shed the labels and the lingo of traditional Christianity.

Peter Attwood said...

I like it fine, except that the putdown of Paul's knowledge of Paul is rather silly. He actually did meet the guy, according to his claim, and Peter, James, and others were satisfied that that was true.

If you have problems with what he said, it would be better to make sure you've understood him correctly - maybe he had problems with you think he said too.

It might be that your own understanding of who Jesus was and taught is no more reliable than that of Paul. It's a danger worth looking out for.

Gary said...

In the immortal words of Beck...

"I'm a loser baby, so why don't ya kill me."

Gary said...

All joking aside, I have actually been pondering and praying about this question for a few days. The best answer that I have been able to come up with is I am "sometimes" a...
follower...
disciple...
doer...
thinker about...
teacher about...
evangelist of...
etc...

the best I really think I, or anyone else can say (regardless if you call yourself a "Christian" or "Follower" or "fillintheblank") is that whatever you call yourself, you are only it...sometimes.

Brent said...

I've always considered myself a follower of Jesus and a student of the Bible - even before my "awakening" a couple years ago.
I've never been comfortable with labels, because when you accept a label you effectively let others define you in ways that do not truly reflect who and what you are.
Since my "awakening" I continue to trust Jesus and the Bible - its our church culture with all its unbiblical beliefs, attitudes and practices that I no longer accept.

I am convinced that the church itself - not its current cultural and institutional incarnation, but as a spiritual family and gathering of brothers and sisters is a natural expression of the Kingdom of God that Jesus preached. I know you have expressed distrust in Paul's writings, but much of the pain and abuse that occur in churches today would not occur if we followed Paul’s teachings about how to behave together as a church, just as so much of our suffering in this life would melt away if we followed Jesus’ teaching about the Kingdom of God.

Gary said...

I never got the impression here, or anywhere else that John writes, that there is distrust of, or dismissal of, Paul. But rather that the lens through which we read and understand Paul should be the words and actions of Jesus.

Br. Jay said...

Beautifully put. As one who has been bashed, beaten, and rejected by "churchianity", I too had to shed the Christian label. I look forward to more of your posts.