Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Just as I am...

One of my favorite hymns (oh, I have many...) is Just as I Am, Without One Plea.  It has a simple, straight-forward melody and the harmony, also simple, is beautiful.  I have always felt this way.  This hymn can bring me to tears in a minute.

The third stanza is particularly meaningful for me
Just as I am, though tossed about
with many a conflict, many a doubt,
fightings and fears within, without,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.*

I was raised, intentionally or not, to question everything.  This part of my personality has served me well over the years but it has also caused me to be on a continual journey in my own spirituality.  I don't think this is a bad thing because through every trial, every question, every doubt, my faith has been reaffirmed.

Currently, my conflicts and doubts are not about my faith but about the actions of people and groups who should be my brothers & sisters in Christ.  As a Christian, I am lumped into the same category of "Christians" as groups like the Westboro Baptists who feel it's appropriate to picket at soldiers' funerals & bear signs that read such non-Christ-like messages as "God Hates Fags." Using Christianity to spew hate - and it is pure HATE that some of these Christians spew - is so incredibly painful for me to see. I have many friends who are not Christians, some are atheist, some agnostic, and some belong to other religions.  I hate feeling like I have to say "not all Christians are like that"  "no, I don't believe that's what Jesus would do."   The average, everyday Christian who goes to church, reads the bible, collects donations for the needy, helps rebuild communities after disasters, provides help & hope to families who are struggling is just not as newsworthy as the minority of people who give the rest of us a bad name.

I fully realize that many of my personal feelings about civil rights issues are considered controversial among many Christians and even other religious traditions.  I don't expect to change other people's interpretations of the scripture.  I do expect people to behave with civility and respect towards others.  I'm not a huge fan of the "hate the sin; love the sinner" phrase, but seriously, that's loads better than some of the actions I see & read about on  regular basis that are done in the name of Christ.  I don't recall learning that Jesus said, "let the heterosexual, married, sinless, perfectly blameless people who lack any vices come unto me."  I KNOW He didn't say, "Verily I say unto you, he who doth not stand on street corners waving 'God Hates Fags' signs shall not enter the Kingdom of Heaven."

If we're keeping a score card of things that will keep you out of Heaven, I've probably got a rap sheet a mile long.  I'm not in a position to throw stones and I know it.  I also know that God accepts me just as I am...if only we could accept others just as they are.

*Words: Charlotte Elliot, 1835; Music: William B. Bradbury, 1849
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