Tag Archives: Free Will

I Love Jesus, But Sometimes I am an Atheist

26 Mar

The most terrible acts in the world happen when human beings treat each other as less than human.

A Chinese orphanage where special needs children had their limbs tied to hard kitchen chairs and left alone all day to stare at the walls.

A dirty room on the top of a brothel in India, where girls lay sleeping, fragile and exhausted from another night of abuse.

The cries of a young girl as she was taken down the stairs to a basement, by a man who was supposed to be caring for her while her parents were away.

Many look and say, “How could God let this happen?”

And even more deadly, religion says, “Everything happens for a reason.”

If I had a communion shot glass of wine for every time someone carelessly attached the phrase “God’s Will” to someone terrible, I’d be slurring my words right now.

I used to believe suffering made us better, so God must cause it. It was not for us to understand, only embrace. God wants to “break” us, and He will do whatever it took to get us to rely on him.

I imagine a mother or father using similar phrases as they abuse their children, all in the name of “love.”

This is not love.

I don’t believe in this god anymore.

I can’t.

I don’t believe in a god who would orchestrate horrific pain, destruction, and death.

Light and dark can’t mix.

I don’t believe in a god that picks and chooses whom he loves and whom he disregards.

Love is not true if it has conditions.

I don’t believe in a god who controls your fate, who is nothing more than a cruel puppet master putting on a show.

Love does not force its will or manipulate, but allows freedom of choice.

I don’t believe in a god who is looking for ways that we don’t measure up, who is constantly pushing us to try harder and be better.

Love doesn’t force or condemn or have an agenda to change someone.

People usually have a valid reason for not believing in god.

I don’t blame them.

But my God is pure love, acceptance, grace and beauty.

My God, in his love has given us control over the earth and our lives. Even though He risked us screwing everything up, it was the only way to offer freedom.

My God always gives good gifts, always redeems, always makes things new.

My God is found in the eyes of the abused prostitute, in the compassionate activist who rescues her, in the bread she is given to nourish her frail body.

He is in the laugh of a special needs orphan tied to a chair as the sunlight pours through the cracks in the walls.

He is in the words of the little girl who is restored and redeemed and telling her story.

My God writes the book of our lives with us, bringing adventure, romance, and surprise endings.

godwrites

So, sometimes I am an atheist.
Because I refuse to believe in the god religion has created.

But Jesus—I can’t help but believe in and love him.

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In Your Head

26 Aug

life and death are strung between the choices
words, touch, feelings, what he’s fighting for
he’s teeming with possibility:
whether world domination or world peace,
he’s anything but a pacifist
neutral is no ground to camp on
give him rocks or water
destruction lies in the hands that make art
in his speech
he can pull together or tear apart
strength pours into weapons of mass chaos
or lifting up the weak ones
passion rings with love or hate
living inside greed or gifts
balance is a place to fall
with no circus net to catch him
all of heaven and hell live between his ears
today, he choices one

Live Free or Die

1 Jul

This quote sits on the background of my desktop. The more I read it, the more it feels like my own holy mantra. I love the idea of my existence being a rebellion in an un-free world. Not rebellion in a sense of fighting against what is good and true, actually the very opposite.

When I was a kid, I was sort of paranoid. I used to lie awake at night, imagining enemies. They normally weren’t monsters or goblins, these enemies were real people. Burglars, kidnappers, rapist. I was afraid of people. I was also afraid of God, in a sense. I knew He “loved” me because that is what I was told. But, I never thought I was good enough for that love.

I looked in the mirror and found myself achingly different from the girl I wished I was. I remember as young as six making a mental list of the (major) things that would have to change in my life for me to be “normal.” I thought that was all I wanted. Really, I wanted to be free. Free from the nightmares. Free from the unspoken thing that paralyzed my mouth shut when it came to communicating with anyone older then me besides my immediate family. I didn’t know why I was afraid, I just was. I was in bondage to silence.

When I began to get free from my past, it was like I transitioned straight into another sort of bondage- the religious kind. I thought it was my job to decide whether I was a holy person or not, depending on how much time I spent on my knees, what movies or music I would or would not subject myself too. In my harsh judgment of myself, I couldn’t help but judge other people. I couldn’t see their motives, know their full story, or read their heart intent, but I stuck with the idea that “You will know them by their fruit.” I entered into a new kind of paranoia. Instead of writing a list of the things that needed to change in order for me to be normal, I wrote a mental list of things that needed to happen in order for me to be a “Jesus-freak. World-Changer. Not-of-this-world.” I was quick to point out those “hypocrites” who talked about celebrity gossip instead of reaching Muslims for Christ, the ones who claimed to love God and yet spend more money on worldly things like their purebred puppy and nice furniture, while there were starving children dying of AIDS  and worldly teenagers having sex who were going to burn in hell.

How foolish can you be? After starting your Christian lives in the Spirit, why are you now trying to become perfect by your own human effort? (Gal. 1:4 NLT)

As Jesus began to gently lead me into the realm of his grace, at times I have felt my former self back-lashing.

“Do you realize how heretical the things your saying sound right now?”

“People are going to get offended…”

“Are you SURE, you are not just trying to rebel?”

As time goes on, condemnation has gone from being my master to becoming obsolete. It’s scary, almost, because I was so used to it.  I was comfortable seeing morality so stark black and white, I was comfortable being one of the few select, being able to judge the world instead of the condition of my own heart. I was safe in my cage.

Christ has set us free to live a free life. So take your stand! Never again let anyone put a harness of slavery on you. (Gal 5:1 MSG)

As we are taught through our history, freedom cost something. It is risky, it is rebellious.

But the cost for our freedom was paid for, fully. We get to grab it, walk in it, make it our reality.

We don’t need to live with one foot in the cage and one out of it. We don’t celebrate Independence Day because you are sort of free. Yes, people may be in fear that our nation is losing it’s freedom, but the state of our physical freedom simply cannot touch the freedom that is on the inside of us.

Fear, condemnation, guilt, those things are no longer your masters. If you walk with Jesus, His Spirit is in you, that means FREEDOM.

(Those that say in their hearts “Yes, but that means people think they can do whatever they want, they will use their freedom as an excuse to be selfish and SIN,” don’t really get it anyway. That is not the point.)
Your response to an unfree world doesn’t need to be anger, endless political discussions, great planned-out “battle plans.” It doesn’t have to  mean working in ministry until you are half dead, constant suffering and sorrow for a cause, or playing the martyr.  Sometimes it simply means to live free.

So make every day Independence day.

Enjoy life. Take a risk. Love someone who will never love you back. Make friends with those the church rejects. Go on an adventure. Have a beer, light some fireworks, jump in a lake, laugh.

Live Free.

(I may be biased, but New Hampshire has the best state slogan EVER.)

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