by Kayla Raymond
This post is for those of you struggling with religion. Struggling with the modern church and all of its issues. Struggling to see the gospel, while “Christians” blur and distort the real gospel.
This post is also a rant against the American church. Church, put down your pro-life and same-sex marriage debate signs for a minute. Let’s stop judging and criticizing for just a minute. I have some issues and I need to get them off my chest.
First off, to the struggling and hurt, I am sorry.
I’m sorry for any hurt the church may have caused on your fragile heart. I’m sorry when we didn’t love you or help you while you were down. I am sorry for all the times you have felt ignored, alone or abandoned. We “Christians” are called to love and help and I really believe we have failed you. Immensely.
By no means is this an excuse, but you must understand that Satan has a way of sneaking into our lives when we aren’t on guard. We mean good. We want to love and help. When we give our lives to Christ, we give up our selfish desires. We are suppose to die to our selves and pick up the cross.
Picking up the cross can mean a lot of things. For myself, it means living in a third world country, raising three children who are not biologically mine and answering to the plight of the poor. For others it means adopting, forgiving, selling their cars and homes, volunteering, donating, making hot meals, mentoring, sending notes of encouragement, fasting, or praying recklessly.
Picking up the cross is never selfish. But, Satan does a good job sneaking in to make us realize all of our selfish desires. He distracts us. He sits on that left shoulder and feeds lies into our weak selves.
When we give our lives to Christ, we also welcome the Holy Spirit into our lives. For a long time, I pictured the Holy Spirit as a wind passing through that gave me goose bumps, but He is so much more than that. He’s living and working in us every day. As a Christian, we are called to follow the Holy Spirit. He’s the good guy that sits on our right shoulders speaking truth.
This can sound magical, but it is really far from magical or comfortable. Paul describes accepting the Holy Spirit like crucifying the flesh with its passions and desires. Again, we are to deny our sinful nature, which is naturally full of greed, immorality, and selfishness.
A life lived following the Holy Spirit should represent the opposite and bear fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. (Galatians 6:22)
Maybe this is a new concept to you, as the church has done such an awful job offering you the above traits. Again, I am sorry.
To the church, before we go about boasting about being Christians, can we do an inventory on the fruit we produce in our lives? How many lies are we telling? How many people are we hurting? How many people do we push away? How many hours are spent serving? Where are our dollars being spent? How many of our words are filled with gossip? What are our true intentions?
Before we tell people how to live, why don’t we check out ourselves first.
“…If any of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” – John 8:7
Today, I write with such a heavy heart. I have been burdened by the lies told by so-called Christians over the past few months in my personal life. I am troubled because I see people misrepresenting Jesus so poorly, using Him as a cover to live a life full of lies. I see so many of you. You are seeking the truth, trying to find authentic believers and you come up empty handed. Again, I am sorry.
It’s ironic, isn’t it? I am here in Haiti and my heart is more troubled by the state of the American church than the poor in Haiti. In this moment, the poor actually give me more hope than the American church or society. I’m worried about my friends thousands of miles away, knowing they are not being reached or loved by the church.
My husband’s only complaint from his trip to America, in fact, came from his American church experience. He asked me, “How can they sit there like that? They have everything and they don’t worship!”
He expected to walk into our million-dollar sanctuary and have an amazing worship experience, but left empty and confused.
Every Sunday, millions of Americans pull into their church parking lots with their nice vehicles. We paint pictures that we have it all together with our designer bags, name brand clothing on our children and bright smiles. We sit in our pews, put in our time and consider it good.
Every Sunday, Haitians gather under tin roofs, with worn shoes and torn Bibles. We sit on hard, wooden pews and wave our hands high in worship. Some get on their knees, with their heads on the pews. Others pace back and forth, while another turns his face outwards towards the heaven. Worship can last for hours and we leave filled.
The Bible mentions how hard it will be for the rich to enter heaven’s gates.
“I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” – Matthew 19:23
And I see the hard reality of this truth as America fights over red Starbucks cups.
We are so far from the gospel.
We are turning people away from the gospel as we debate over these damn cups. People who are considering Jesus are now running away. Better yet, people are over here dying from starvation and preventable diseases, while we spend our time arguing about the real reason for Christmas.
The real reason is the gospel. And the gospel is simple. Serve one another in love. (Galations 5:13)
To my friends who aren’t religious, don’t know what to believe, have yet to hear the truth, and are looking for more; my only advice to you is to not turn to America. Her society is full of lies and materialistic priorities. She worries about her self and her dreams will not lead to satisfaction. America offers opportunity, but none of these opportunities promise eternal life or freedom.
Jesus, on the other hand, sought out the broken, sick and poor. Jesus loved the forgotten. He welcomed the outcast. He challenged the authorities and religious leaders. He didn’t have time for Starbucks red cups, because he was out performing miracles.
Jesus represents love. And love is selfless. With Jesus, love becomes our purpose and our hope. We come alive when our life is lived out loving and serving.
Jesus offers opportunities to witness miracles, to live in freedom and to have the promise of eternal life.
And while the American church consumes itself with controversy and red cups, I am here to tell you that you have not been forgotten. If I could, I would fly across the ocean to hug you, because, it’s obvious the church has no time to hug you dearly.
American church, please step up your game. Your girl down here in Haiti is distracted by your madness. And, it’s embarrassing.
The phrase WWJD keeps coming to mind as I write this, while it may be cliche and very elementary, it is provoking….and, all I have to say is, He would not be worried about those damn red cups. He’s filled this world with hurting people; it’s our job to serve them. That’s what Jesus would do: serve and love them.
End of rant.
“You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love. The entire law is summed up in a single command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.”
“You were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified
in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the spirit of God.”
1 Corinthians 6:11
(This rant was particularly inspired by the book Forgotten God (chapter 4) by Francis Chan, which I am studying right now; lies told by people I thought were representing Christ well and the red Starbucks controversy)