So many non-churchgoers will see a story like this and say, “See? This is why I’d rather explore my spirituality in a non-Christian or non-church environment.” If you are such a non-churchgoer and would agree with that statement, here’s my rebuttal: I have no rebuttal. I agree with you that the actions of this school are a disgusting and hypocritical display of the highest order – it sickens to me to the core, not only because it treats this young lady in such an unloving way, but also because it’s being justified by saying the decision was “first and foremost in her best interest.”
To those of my friends and neighbors who are not active in a church, and who refrain from exploring faith because you continue to see stories like this, please briefly hear me out.
All over this country there are Christians and Christian churches whose stomachs, along with yours, are turning over these types of stories – we are as disgusted by it, if not more so, as you are. We are so tired of being associated with and identified with people like this as this is not the type of Christianity we believe in or promote. We are tired of being lumped in with people who think it’s their job to be God’s enforcers on planet earth and who are more concerned about their “image” than they are the people they hurt.
If you’re interested, let me give you a quick manifesto of what following Christ means to me. I am a man who has been enthralled with the idea of God and His greatness since I was a kid. I mean, how can you look at the beauty of the outdoors, the passion of being in love, and the goodness that’s in so many people, without thinking of how great the Creator must be?
And as a kid, I grew up being taught all about right and wrong. I knew the difference, but the older I got, the less right I did and the more wrong I did. Enter Jesus. The guilt I experienced over my mistakes, failures and shortcomings (aka “sin”) threatened to derail every part of my life. I hated myself and felt like a complete loser most of the time. But Jesus, and His message, taught me that I am worth more than the sum of my mistakes, and that my future is based on His goodness rather than my own.
That’s why I believe in Him – because He believes in me and has proven it over and again. And even though I’ve been burned and mistreated for years – and continue to be – by those in the religious community who still believe they are God’s enforcers, I still worship God and I still go to church. Why? Because the truth of God and the purity of what He offers my family and our world has no logical connection to the self-appointed religious elite who have been misrepresenting Him for centuries and taking advantage of others in His Name. Neither do they have anything to do with the wonderful and grace-filled church-goers I share my life with every day – you know, the ones whose virtues are almost never extolled by the media because such love isn’t “juicy” enough.
My faith is in a Father who continues to pick me up and give me second chances even when I screw up and have “off days” from my commitment to Him – off days that will continue to happen regardless of how hard I try or how “moral” I become.
My faith in a Christ who is patient with me. He knows I love Him, but He also knows that life is a process and that it takes most of us, myself included, a while to tweak what we believe and how we live.
My faith is also in a Holy Spirit who gives me the power to tell people like you – those who may not yet be ready for the “God thing” – that regardless of the religious nonsense you see in this country – nonsense that masquerades as a mere form of godliness while denying the power thereof – and regardless of who you are, what you believe and how you live – God still loves you, likes you, believes in you….and calls to you, beckons you, and even obsesses over you. Yeah – He’s that interested in you.
Don’t let the kind of thing you read about in this story distract you from the quiet whisper in your soul that invites you to know and experience a power so unimaginable that it’s beyond human language to describe. The voice behind the whisper is His.
And one more thing – always remember that there are those of us who would welcome you to the journey of faith regardless of where you are in your own process. We are not God’s enforcers – and we have no wish to be (as if a human being ever could be). We’re just people who realize that even though life is a struggle, as are our efforts to live morally, the struggle is more bearable with the grace of God and the grace of each other. If you’ll promise to accept and not judge us, we’ll promise to accept and not judge you.