Saturday, January 14, 2012

An Open Letter to All Christians

but if I do it might not get written.
So please bear with me, because we have been battling an unusually bad flu here at our house and feeling pretty lousy. And emotionally, I am a bit fragile... like most people, because there seems to be so much tension in the world. There's a lot of suffering, and I'm not talking about not being able to afford the newest iPhone kind of self pity- I am talking real life and death suffering. Nearly everyone running in the political arena seems to have left decency behind somewhere, and no one seems to be able to get along on the small decisions let alone the big ones. This week personally I have run into more assumption making personalities than I have ever before encountered. And truthfully, it's worn me out. But that's not what really got to me this week. What really got to me was perhaps the single most saddest conversation I have ever had in my life. In 41 years, I have had a lot of conversations. I knew the conversation would happen someday- and it shocked the hell out of me when it occurred last night. It's very important that I stress that it's not the conversation itself that saddened me. The content of the conversation was something I had long suspected but never had real evidence or proof that what I thought was happening was, in fact, happening. To preface, I am having a lot of personal conflict with my religion of Christianity. This has been going on with me for far more of my life than not. My Faith, however, has never ever been stronger. But this is a tough place to be. To say I feel isolated is an understatement. I should feel anything but isolation amongst my fellow Christians, right? But I do feel isolated. I used to think, it's just me. Now I know beyond a shadow of a doubt, it's not just me. In what seemed to be a statement out of left field my friend said someone she loves recently converted from Christianity to Islam. In what has been months upon months of watching the people I love in Christian faith speak so violently against another faith, I had about a million questions that had been swimming in my mind ready to be asked. But two were the most important, and I was almost sure I already knew the answers.
I began with a simple Why? Why leave Christianity for Islam? Because he felt like he was lacking something in his spiritual life he began to look at other faiths in hope of finding peace. "When his Christian friends and the churches in his community couldn't provide what he needed, the Muslim community of his town was very welcoming." I put that in quotes because it is a near direct quote, and it's a statement that hurt my very soul. Not because the Muslim community was so supportive, but because my fellow Christians had no idea how to reach out to one of their own. "While churches here are having seminars about "What is Islam?" and other things that focus on breeding fear and anger, the classes he has attended at the Mosque...and Friday night Halaqa... focus on you and your relationship with God. He may have been able to find this somewhere, in a Christian setting...and he doesn't deny that fact...but, through a series of events he was drawn down a spiritual path that led to Islam." I wanted to rewrite that last quote because, in a sense, I feel that I am openly sharing a conversation that was very personal. But I think this is a message every single person of the Christian faith must hear- and hear it loud and clear. When we cannot show the love of Christ to our very own people of faith, how on earth do we suppose we can show that love to someone struggling to find faith? Too many times I see these messages of hate being broadcast publicly, with rallying support of every Christian in the room- literal or virtual- and all the while driving the division between Christianity and the rest of the world they seek to save so much deeper than before they opened their mouth, and not their heart. Do
I get his conversion? Without a question, Yes. But that didn't answer the question that burned within me like a fire. What about Christ? What about Jesus? How could He fit into this Islam? Was there any way this man turned his back on Christ? The answer was this.
"He always felt like his question of Jesus' divinity wasn't ever fully "answered"... he couldn't accept the "just because" of it. Islam's Jesus answered that question for him. Jesus as a were Muhammad, Moses, Abraham. In Islam "there is no God but God."
For me, that was a lot to take in. And I took a few deep breaths. If there is any major stumbling block in faith it is the acceptance of something you have no earthly means of proving. Am I lucky because I believe the miracle of the Jesus birth to be true? I don't know. But I believe it with all my heart. Is that in itself a gift from God, or is it just blind faith? I don't have those answers.
What I do know is that a person searching their soul for truth should not feel an outcast amongst those of his own faith. I also know that a faith that holds Jesus on the highest pillar for the world to see is having a very difficult time showing anyone outside their church walls the love of Christ. I also know that you change no heart by attacking violently, through words, or deed, that which your so-called enemy holds dearest. Jesus came quietly, in Love.
So I ask you, Are you coming to the world in Love, or are you coming to the world in anger and fear? ...Things that look an awful lot like hate. As a Christian, you represent Him. Are you representing Him and what He asked of you, or are you boastful in your knowledge of how wrong the other faiths are?
In the end, our faith is between us and God. Jesus showed us the best way we could care for others. If you are a Christian, or a human who loves and has taken to heart His teachings, I beg you to think with your heart before you open your lips. I beg you to change your sermons, your classes, your efforts- back to the efforts of Jesus Christ Himself. In so many ways when you spread this hate of the Islam faith and its Muslim people, you are preaching to the choir of haters just like yourself. You are not reaching the hearts of the people you most mean to. But make no mistake, those people among you that see the discord of what Jesus said to do, and what you actually do- they will seek to fulfill that need to be near to God. Where they find that faith may stun you.
"For God so Loved the World...." The World, in case you missed the definition, is All of Us.