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Christianity is based on fear; preys on the innocent; is based on dishonesty; is anti-intellectual and anti-scientific; has an unhealthy preoccupation with sex; has a narrow view of morality; and pirate’s myths and ceremonies from other ancient religions. These are examples of just a few offences that opponents identify in their analysis of the Christian faith.
A quick search through facebook leads to anti-Christian pages like ‘Anti-Christianity: Making it A Mission Possible’ and ‘F*** Your F****** God, You Ignorant Blinded Dumb F***’. These aren’t the only ‘anti’ pages that can be found on the site. However, Christians are a group of people that aren’t likely to rally the support of others who don’t share their lifestyle. Some feel that there is a politically correct tolerance of hate speech against Christians in our post-secondary institutions, workplace and community, that would incite an onslaught of indignant correction if directed towards other minority groups.
Susan and Rich are born again Christians. They hope that by sharing their story that they can dispel some of the misconceptions about their faith and way of life.
In 2009, Susan and Rich moved to the Sault. Rich had landed a job locally. They spent a couple of year’s church hopping until they settled at their current place of worship. Susan spent the first few years adjusting to the new community and trying to build new relationships with people in her church. Recently, feeling more at home Susan has begun engaging herself in the community, taking on various volunteer positions and serving on different committees.
Through her community involvement Susan has begun developing new relationships and has become more familiar with the local culture. It was during a social gathering after a committee meeting that she found herself in an awkward situation.
“They were standing around talking about how they hate born again Christians and they didn’t know that I was one. One girl was particularly verbal and talked about how her daughter wanted to be baptized. She said she told her daughter that she didn’t approve because God hates gays. They all kind of talked about their background and how they hated organized religion and how born agains hate everything.”
Becoming more uncomfortable by the moment Susan spoke up. “I just said ‘you know guys I’m going to tell you this- I’m a born again Christian.’ Their jaws dropped and they said ‘no you’re not. You’re not like them.’ And I just thought well what do they expect me to be like?”
But the next night the very same group met back up at Susan’s house for a social visit. “They came back. I was very thankful that they didn’t judge me. They are still very open. In fact I hate to say it but they are even a little bit more open than some of the church people I know. They just welcomed me with open arms.”
Susan hopes to dispel the misconceptions the world tends to have about Christians. “When we come out and tell people we are born again Christians they associate us with organized religion and the crazy factions- the fringe groups.”
Such fringe groups like the Westboro Baptist Church espouse Christian beliefs. The group is best known for celebrating and picketing the funerals of soldiers, saying that their death is a punishment from God against America for their acceptance of the gay lifestyle.
Rich who is quiet through most of the interview speaks up on this matter. “They’re fraudulent. They think they’re Christian but they’re not. They may go to church a lot, they may follow as many rules in the Bible that they can find but they’re missing one important thing. Jesus says that if you don’t have love in your heart or that you hate your brother when you say you’re a Christian then you’re a liar. It is impossible to harbour that kind of hate in your heart when you’re a Christian.”
Susan adds, “It turns my stomach when I see this on TV because to me it is just a tactic of the enemy to have the world’s focus hate us even more.”
The universal blurring of Christians and organized religion as one entity is a fallacy. Over the centuries organized religions have evolved pagan rituals into their own tradition.
In A.D. 313 the Roman Emperor, Constantine, was inspired by his own conversion to legalize Christianity. He envisioned Christianity as a religion that would unify the entire Roman Empire- a great step for the Christian Church but a bit lofty. Like Constantine himself, nobody was prepared to completely surrender their pagan beliefs and practices. Constantine’s solution was to create a Christian Church that was a combination of Christianity and pagan practices.
As a Christian, Susan has had to explain the difference between her faith and the practices of organized religion. Susan shared a bit of her conversation with a new friend on the matter.
“I was speaking with him and he asked me what the difference was between calling on the dead in a séance and a vision of Mary. I told him that we couldn’t equate Christianity with Catholicism. As far as I’m concerned necromancy is necromancy whether you’re calling on Mary or calling on Uncle Joe. And he was right when he said Jesus wasn’t born on December 25th. It’s all paganism.”
Organized religions also have a tendency to put much emphasis on the ‘rules’ in the Bible and living a ‘good’ life. Susan continued. “Christ went to the Cross so that we could bring down the old way or the checklist of things and usher in a new covenant of grace. Moralism is a false religion. We can’t tell people to do this good thing or that good thing. It doesn’t work that way. We are not an isolated community of Christians. We’re not against the world. We don’t follow organized religion. We want to be in our community and we want to love people, not judge people. We let God do that. We let God take care of their own convictions about who they are like He did for me. Because we don’t follow moralism what we realize is that we are not wanting people to be ‘Christianized’, we want them to love Christ.”
When Susan was asked if she ever feared rejection from others because of her faith she became thoughtful. “Jesus said to remember that if we are hated he was hated first. What I want to make sure is that if somebody is going to hate me it’s going to be because of the Gospel itself. Not for anything else. To me we are all equal opportunity offenders I’m no different than anyone else. The only difference is that I’ve been redeemed just like everyone else can.
What I want to be known for myself is what I am for, not what I’m against. I’m for every person that I come across. I want them to see Christ in me. And then I want them to want that too. And then to be redeemed and saved from this horrid life and to know that God hasn’t abandoned us and to understand why Christ went to the Cross.”
But for the reader at home what is a Christian? What does it mean to be one?
Rich speaks up on this one. “I don’t use the term Christian anymore because Christians have given Christianity a bad name. I just say that I’m a Bible follower. I follow what’s in the Bible. But in terms of what a Christian is or what Christian looks like or what a Christian does or doesn’t do or has to do- I look at the crucifixion, the three crosses. What did the thief who believed -what kind of Christian was he? He didn’t do anything, he didn’t save anybody, he didn’t go to church or anything. He believed only for minutes. It’s about repentance and forgiveness. It’s not about functionality. It’s about what Jesus did. It’s mercy and grace.
Susan added her thoughts to her husband’s remark. “It means that I’m no different than anybody else. I’m a sinner and they all have to see that eventually. I’m not a good person. What makes me a Christian is realizing that God is on the throne. I want Him to be my shepherd. I want Him to be my God. How do I do that? The only way to do that is through Christ. Because of what He did on that Cross, He was Holy and He was the sacrifice. He has taken my sin on the cross so that it is no longer my sin or me that God looks at. Jesus has imparted His holiness onto me and now I am able to be in God’s presence. I don’t have to do things now. I don’t have to go to church every week, I don’t have to do the Eucharist or I don’t have to do anything that any organized religion tells me I should do.”
She paused. Chuckling she said, “I don’t even have to have to sacrifice a turtle dove or whatever.”
Quiet for a moment she offered her final comment. “God didn’t murder His son on the Cross. Christ is alive. He did it for us. He said no one takes my life unless I give it. So that’s what being Christian means to me. And that’s what I want other people to know.”