Lately, I’ve seen a whole lot of posts and heard even more stories of people who have been extremely hurt by the church or other religious institutions. Even if they do not tell the full tale, the way they speak of God and believers easily belies the pain behind their words. And it is gut-wrenching to say the least.
I also see many believers trying to write-off these experiences as – “those were people, not God.” Or belittle them by saying, “well, if you just believe enough…” Or even worse, try to convert those who have lost their faith back into whatever fold they represent through either fear or erroneously concocted witness.
Every time I either want to slap my palm to my forehead or give someone a good “Gibbs-smack” to the backside of their noggin.
You know, I actually have friends and family members who are both agnostic and atheist. And believe it or not, I do not panic about it. Nor do I worry about it. For several reasons.
One is that I was told to love everyone. Where they are. However they are. And especially people who are loving individuals who know they are loved – those are not humans that I am too concerned about from a safety standpoint.
From a faith standpoint, the God I serve is far bigger and more expansive than some pithy little tyrant who cannot handle a creation having questions and problems and shouting matches from time to time. My God is Love. One that seeks out and searches and pursues us even beyond the gates of death itself. And when that God became flesh, Jesus said that it was the faith of friends that can save, too. So again, why should I worry.
Lastly, it has never, ever been my job, or your job, or our job to save anyone – at least where eternity is concerned. It is our job to care and serve and save lives and bodies and broken souls that are fighting battles here and now. That’s what my Lord did. That’s what we’re meant to do. And that’s the very best witness we can ever give.
Love with tangible, reckless, profligate, radical intensity. With everything we have. Just like our God has loved us.
The rest will sort itself out. The rest is God’s job. Period.