Christian Bloggers Who Bash The Church As A Platform: You’re Not Cool or Relevant or Interesting

[Angry post. Sorry.]

I know too many Christians who are yelling, “Don’t guilt-trip me bro, you can’t judge my faith, don’t be a hater, Jesus loves me no matter what” — and this is really a pseudo-grace that doesn’t even begin to address the complex reality of our messed-up beat-up hearts.

If we continually hijack beautiful words like “freedom” and “grace” to become hipster relevant rebellious Christians who are “not like those uptight religious people,” then we turn Christianity into a popularity contest of appealing to the burnt-out prodigals.  We make phrases like “everyone struggles” into an excuse to be supposedly helpless out-of-control morons, which also diminishes people who genuinely struggle.

Without a very real cross, we turn grace into an abstract fuzzy feeling like a Hallmark card from the dollar-store.  It works for about two seconds until you have to confront the ugliness of our human condition.

I’ve met some of your favorite Christian pastors and authors and bloggers: and at least half of them are insufferable intolerable jerks who can’t handle ideas like rebuke and discipline and self-control.  They feel threatened by the very possibility of becoming a Pharisee, so they cuss and drink and bash megachurches: not for any legit reasons, but to prove a point.  Many of them live in a reactionary counter-culture of “me” versus “the church,” as if they’re wearing a cape to save you from the Pope.  They’ve been burnt by a bad legalism, but in response, there is a new type of legalism: to be cool hyper-grace Christians that only talk about God’s warm winter-blanket love.

I’m not okay with this because I’ve been burnt by both extremes.  I’ve been blasted by Reformed Neo-Calvinists AND emergent hipster “grace-only” Christians.  I’ve been cussed out for showing too much grace AND upholding the law.  I’ve been blasted by doctrine nerds and megachurches and parachurches and those bloggers who preach a good blog but are actually self-important snobs.

I know I’m probably doing the same thing I’m accusing everyone of doing: but I seriously hurt so bad for my fellow brothers and sisters.  I do love them, regardless of the damage.  We could be so great in the world, if we weren’t trying so hard to out-great each other.

It doesn’t matter how much we flaunt grace in our sermons and blogs and podcasts: because when I see you behind closed doors and you’re still bad-mouthing everyone in black-and-white categories, no one is impressed by that, including you.  I don’t care about your fancy words.  I care if you love me and you love Jesus.  Not perfectly, but with sincere passion.  Jesus didn’t die for your platform.  He died on a dirty Roman cross for your very real sin.  And that grace is just as much for you as for me as for the Pharisee next to you.

— J.S.

Today I Wanted To Forget About Jesus and Kick Someone’s Face In

The truth is: I can write a whole lot of inspirational Christianese pick-me-up platitudes on my blog, but in a heated moment of confrontation I can suddenly enter into a horrible rage that’s downright embarrassing.  In a second, all my pretty plastic theology can go out the window and there’s no spiritual photoshopped phrase on an ocean wallpaper that will hold me back from kicking someone’s face in.

This is ugly.  It is sad.  It is me.

Maybe I’m being too candid here, and I absolutely understand if this turns you off and drives you away.  But I am capable of the worst kind of evils, the most despicable acts of violence at the flip of a switch.

Earlier today I was with my fiancé and our families looking at houses, and a large white man outside his home yelled, “Your car is parked in an unacceptable position.”  When I say large white man, I mean to say that he looked like he was on the cheese-puffs-only diet and was an esteemed clan leader of League of Legends.

I replied, “We’re just looking at the house for a few minutes.”  He yelled back even louder about my bad parking job.  Of course, it wasn’t a really big deal and I could’ve let this go.  But I said, “No, I think you’ll be fine.”  And he yelled some more.

And right then, I had that thought I always do in moments like this.  He’s only yelling at me really loud because I’m Asian, and Asians are supposed to be passive and quiet and submissive.  If I was black or white or Latino or an attractive woman, he wouldn’t have started nothing.

Then, in a flash, I thought of killing this guy.  I mean literally walking over there, roundhouse-kicking his left knee, elbowing him in the nose, and then kicking his face in until he stopped moving.  I’m a fifth degree black belt, by the way, and I know how to kill someone with three of my fingers.  I didn’t think this guy was worthy of my fingers.

It was a terrible, disgusting, humiliating sort of rage that rushed through my throat — and I took a few steps forward, loading my leg, only to be pulled back by my fiancé.

Later I was so guilty about everything that I asked all those questions: Am I even a Christian?  Am I making spiritual progress?  Am I really growing up?  How could I be so ugly inside?  How could I think these things?  What if my church saw this?  What if my fellow bloggers saw it too?

Because really: This was a dumb situation in the midst of real suffering in the world, and I didn’t deserve to feel this angry.  I felt stupid, then stupid about feeling so stupid, and just plain bad.  I got a headache, like one of those hot feverish night sweats when your blanket feels like a coffin.  I wanted to throw up and die.  I wanted to crawl in a hole of shame and choke in my self-pity.  I thought, My blog, my ministry — it’s all over.

I wish I could wrap this up with a bowtie and say, “It’s all okay now.”  It’s not.  I’m still in a daze about it, to be honest, and I can’t say I would’ve had the resolve to hold myself back if my wonderful lady hadn’t stopped me.

I can only say that I need grace, more than ever, because self-condemnation is so unbearable.  I need to know I’m still a human being, who fails, a lot.  I need to know I am fully known and still fully loved, and that even in these disturbing fractures in my carefully crafted facade, I can find the humility to move forward and do better next time.

— J.S.

Originally posted here.

Question: Tired of Serving and Sacrificing

 foreverin asked:

Do you ever get tired of serving and sacrificing? I get that we can’t earn salvation, and that our faith and worth isn’t even defined by how much we give, but don’t you sometimes feel like you’re working so hard compared to others, and it’s not fair? the bible says that the harvest is plentiful, and the workers are few…I feel like those few faithful workers will have a tendency to burn out! thoughts? 🙂

You know, I think this is one of those things that everyone is afraid to say: and you said it.  We all want to look like willing ready servants that are faithful to jump into the furnace, and I would even say: some of our hard work is actually people-pleasing and comparison and trying to earn salvation.  Or, people are just afraid to say no because they don’t want to look lazy.  After all, half of our generation lives in the Over-Productive Neurotically Over-Achieving Mega-Success era.

But like you said: Yes, we get tired.  Mostly I get weary of serving those who eventually drop out of their race of faith anyway.  I’ve poured sweat and tears and prayers into dozens of people who ended up going prodigal, and I always blame myself.  I know that I shouldn’t.  Other times, everyone expects Christian leaders and pastors to be superhuman, and we don’t find a comfortable rhythm of rest and work.  This is especially true in my Asian Culture, when taking a break means you’ve dishonored your family lineage and a vacation means you’ve declared feudal war.

Burning out can also be a case of “wrong seat on the bus.”  If you’re doing something you’re not called to do, then of course it’ll feel joyless.  I don’t think all serving needs to be glamorous or laughs-a-minute, but I see tons of people who are gritting their teeth at church because they’re not maximizing their gifts in the right setting.  Some are too prideful to let go, or they can’t imagine someone else taking over, or they’re just used to it.  But you can work magic if you just switch a few spots.  I’ve seen friends bloom in the right circumstances.

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