Between all of the recent gobbly-goop media coverage of presidential candidates, a county clerk who refused to do her civic job, and the heated debate over which lives matters, I’ve come to the conclusion that as a Christian, I’m not ashamed of Jesus. I’m ashamed of other Christians – they, not the religious leader I choose to follow, are the reason I don’t like to tell people I am a Christian.
The last time I checked (and that was today, by the way), every definition of Christian that I could find reads something like this: someone who adheres to the teaching of Jesus Christ. Some definitions get a bit more verbose, but that’s it at the core – a Christian believes in Jesus Christ. And lets face it, like any good myth, fairy tale, legend, or fable, Christ’s story has it all – love, hate, feasts, fighting, mystery, gold, good guys, bad guys, stories with in stories, murder, and redemption.
I realize that a number of Christians will be offended by me referring to Christianity as a fairy tale or fable. But isn’t that how Christians characterize the tales of the Hindu gods? The oral traditions of Judaism? Paganism -Why that’s just a bunch of fairy tales, right? In the opening scene of one of the “Lord of the Rings” movies, Galadriel is heard saying, “And some things that should not have been forgotten were lost. History became legend. Legend became myth.”.
The myth I’ve come to believe in is the myth of Jesus Christ and my belief includes an attempt to love humanity as Jesus did. While that’s pretty simple on paper, in action, it’s much more difficult. All this other nonsense about what a Christian should believe, how they should behave, who they should deal with, and how they should treat people is somewhat arbitrary, and varies drastically based on a person’s personal and religious history, generations of interpretation, and sacred texts, basically, the denomination with which they’ve chosen to align themselves.
And that brings me to religious freedom. I’m thankful that I live in a country where it is legal, and even accepted, for me to attend church with fellow Christians. Basically, it’s ok to worship and share your beliefs with others, that’s freedom. It’s quite another to impose those beliefs on others through your actions. For example, if a vegetarian shows up at my BBQ, I’m not going to force them to eat the chicken. That’s not expressing my freedom, that’s tyranny; or to use a hot word these days, that’s bullying.
Sure, that’s a silly scenario, but no one want to apologize for their religion; and I’m including people of all faiths here – including atheists, non-traditional religions, and the more “traditional” religions. Sometimes I feel like the stereotypes presented by the media are so far from the truth, that on a whole, we need to apologize for a few “bad apples”. We are all striving for a better world. To get there, we need to work together and we all need to be better representative of our chosen faith then the representatives presented to us through the media. And quite frankly, that can’t be that hard, can it?