No Longer a True Christian
I can now say I have reached a new milestone that I wish I had never reached. For the first time, I have been blatantly told that I am no longer a true Christian (or a true Anabaptist) by somebody I know/knew personally in real life. I’ve gotten it in blog comments, on Twitter, on Google+, but from strangers. I’ve gotten that I’m not a true evangelical, which I wouldn’t argue depending on the definition. I’ve gotten it jokingly from friends who made it clear that they didn’t really believe it.
It hurts. I can’t deny that. This guy baptized me. His church was a big part of my spiritual growth in my first couple of years at Queen’s, albeit more in my case because of the youth pastor than because of him directly. I definitely respected him. I’m writing this fighting back tears.
I probably wouldn’t be kept afloat right now if I weren’t able to think of so many counter-examples, in Christianity in general and Anabaptism in particular. I can’t fully imagine what many feel who only have experiences with judgement and division. So many have been told that they can’t be a real Christian because they believe such and such a theology or disagree on some ethical issue, but without ever experiencing the opportunity to question, to challenge, to disagree. Some keep searching for Jesus regardless and those people are truly amazing, but most just give up on the beautiful faith that has been hidden from them. I probably would have given up.
So here’s what I have decided to do. I’ll do a short semi-autobiographical series on communities I have been a part of that exemplified safe spaces. Some had more conservative statements of faith, others didn’t really have statements of faith or just had fairly generic ones. I want to thank them, and I want to make sure people know that loving people more than doctrine really can work, that it really can save people’s faith and sometimes even their lives (would I ever have considered suicide, maybe not, but I do think my life would be much more of a mess).
It wasn’t the people that told me I had to repent or I’d burn in Hell, or the people that told me that I wasn’t really a Christian so I should stop pretending and just leave that got me so passionate about following Jesus. It was these people that showed Jesus to me in the way they treated me: with grace, with love (tough love sometimes, but unmistakably love), with acceptance that all Christians aren’t the same and we shouldn’t be, and with encouragement to keep stumbling forward following Jesus no matter what tries to cut me down.