I have been thinking about the way Christians, gays and atheists treat each other. Certainly talking about this can easily upset a lot of people. Obviously this does not apply to everyone but for the many in my world it seems to fit.
I write from a Christian perspective and I have many Christian friends both gay and straight, along with non-Christian LGBTQI+ and atheist friends. I do not want to sound like I am taking sides or condemning anyone.
But what bothers me is the way many Christian people seemingly have so much animosity toward, and disregard for, atheists and the LGBTQ community. When speaking to Christian people it seems that many have feelings towards "the homosexuals" and atheists that are not very Christ-like. There are times I can hardly believe the words and actions of Christian people toward them.
More than a religion
Christianity is not just a religion, but more than that it is people who believe in and follow Jesus. As followers of Jesus we want to live like him and he was loving and kind to all people. So many people who call themselves Christian are so far from following his example, especially when it comes to the LGBTQI+ community and atheists. Rather than being known for our love, some Christians seem more like the pharisees of Jesus' day.
Pharisees were the religious leaders who Jesus would continually reprehend because they thought they were so much better than everyone else and had more claim to God's favor. Many Christians nowadays see the LGBTQI+ community and atheists as their enemy or far from God's blessing, which is certainly not the case.
The fact is God loves all of us, and as his followers we are to do the same. Even though people do not all believe the same or act the same, we all still deserve to be loved and accepted as we are. God loves us as we are, even before we came to follow him. A lot of Christian people tend to forget this fact.
A deeper expression of faith
If we could get past the labels we put on one another and see the human being - the person who wants the same things: acceptance, happiness and love - I think we would do much better at getting along even in our differences.
I know we are not all going to agree on things, yet as Christians we have the power through the Spirit to love and accept all people no matter who they are or what they believe. As people of God, we are to be known for our love for one another. Many of us have a hard time loving not only those who believe and live differently, but also fellow Christians who have different interpretations of the bible. Showing love is the way of Christ yet we so often choose to fight, argue and condemn instead.
We know that many will not change their mind and believe in God as we do. And as Christians, we want everyone to know and enjoy the love and acceptance of God. Yet we need to remember it is the Spirit, not us, who draws people to God, and through love rather than rule keeping and condemnation.
Fear or love?
Those who choose not to follow a Christian belief still deserve our love and understanding even though we do not agree. I think many times Christian people are afraid to accept others who hold different beliefs because they feel they would be denying the legitimacy of their own faith's sole ownership on salvation, thereby putting their own salvation in jeopardy. They feel that accepting others in love means that we do not yet have to be in agreement on everything, but that we still have a duty to point out what our differences are that will lead others to accept our understanding of a "saving faith".
My viewpoint is we should love and accept others as Christ did and leave any convicting or changing to the Spirit. Those decisions will be between God and the individual. Rather than condemning and avoiding those who are different than us, we should be willing to spend time getting to know, accept and understand them. We can talk and discuss our differences and learn from each other without the expectation or desire to change anyone else besides ourselves.
Jesus told us to love God, love one another, love our neighbor and to love our enemies. He did not say we had to agree with everyone. He did not say we had to change everyone else's beliefs. We can all maintain our personal beliefs and still accept one another as human beings without judgment and condemnation. This is what it means to be a disciple of the God of Love.
Jim was raised in the Methodist church and spent nearly sixty years in the organized church. He and his wife became dissatisfied with the way things were going and became very disillusioned the weekly service format. After several years of looking for answers and trying different churches, they left the religious system and have been living for God outside the walls of religion and traditional church. Jim believes that God loves all people and that everyone should be loved and accepted as is. Jim started writing a blog called Done with Religion where he talks about various topics of Christian living in non-religious ways. Jim and his wife live in the Columbus, Ohio area of the USA. They enjoy their family, traveling and meeting people from all walks of life.
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