Today I stopped Calling Myself a Christian

“I’m Sorry,” is a blended emotion. This means that you have to feel two emotions simultaneously in order to produce the emotion we call, remorse. The two emotions necessary to create remorse are disgust and sadness. A lot of times people will tell you they are sorry but you can tell that they are not disgusted with themselves. They are merely sad. There is a distinct difference.

I opened my computer before class this morning and read this email from a student whom I adore. I have him in my speech class, and he has allowed me share this email publicly, with his name. He said he wants others to know his feelings right now.

Mrs Day
I really hope you understand, but I cannot come to class today. I’m not even going to lie, the results of last night’s election are horrifying to me as a member of the LGBTQA+ community. I have felt sick to my stomach since the results came in. I would never use this as an excuse to not come to class, please understand. I also understand if I lose points on my speech because I’m not coming in today. But I legitimately fear for my well-being in this country, and for the well-being of so many of my friends.

Another part of this email is asking you a question. How, in times of stress and despair like these, do you find your faith? I have been struggling with this for a few years and this doesn’t help me. I find it so hard to believe that there is a God watching over me and taking care of me when He lets this happen. How do you find the strength to believe that God is in control? That he will make things alright?

I hope you understand and I hope you and your family are all safe and happy. Thank you for taking the time to read this and hopefully answer my question. It means a lot.
Nathaniel Neidlinger

& so now I have realized that I am both saddened and disgusted with myself, and I have some apologies to make…

To the boy who left church in the middle of the message because he was told that God loves everyone, EXCEPT homosexuals. To you, I am sorry.

Through whispers and feelings of confusion and separation you believed the lies we fed you that God couldn’t want you. As if whatever struggles you were facing needed to be handled before you stepped  inside our steeple walls. God has heard your questions, felt your heart ache, and doesn’t want you staring at Him from the parking lot. He wants you. We have robbed you of knowing that love and for that, I am so, so sorry.

To the girl who lost her virginity at 14 and was told that her lack of ‘purity’ no longer made her fit for a church pew. Maybe once she got her act together, confessed her sins, went to sexual immorality seminars, and could explain to others why sex before marriage was wrong and how it separated her from Christ, maybe then, God would want her. To you, I am so sorry. We are wrong. The gift of salvation is not so you can earn it, or fix yourself up enough to deserve it. We stole a relationship from you that wasn’t ours to control. I promise you, no matter what you have done, regardless of the mistakes you have made, regardless of the sex you traded to feel wanted, God wants you. We lied. God is not a finger pointing in your face, He is the hand that brushes your hair back while you sob.

To those battling addiction, to you I am sorry. We scooted away from you in our seats and we didn’t try to hide our distaste with your presence. We felt uncomfortable with your thinking that God had room in His heart for you because it made us feel less special. We want to earn Him, because earning someone’s love makes sense to us, but just giving love away?

We have claimed for so long to know Him and with pride in our hearts we announce to the world that we are His ambassadors. We can quote to you our belief system, or our understanding of Scripture, but perhaps what we should have done, perhaps the first thing on our agenda, should have been to reflect His actual image. Kind of feels like a huge step to miss? What you have most likely been seeing displayed is a counterfeit. God always scoots closer, while Christians scoot away.
To all those I have missed in this apology, I am sorry. I know what it feels like to be told that God loves everyone, except you. I know what it feels like to feel the emptiness and loneliness of a world that totes a God they don’t even know, like wearing Jerseys for a sports team they’ve never seen play. We are impostors.

We hand out love, but just in pieces, and with strings attached, to those who deserve it. As if God comes with qualifiers. We lied.
We have to stop labeling ourselves as Christians. The disciples were first called Christians at Antioch, and not because they labeled themselves, but because the world saw their movement, heard their rhetoric, saw their service, and labeled them followers of the WAY.
So I am sorry.  I am sorry that I was self-righteous enough to label myself a Christian. If my actions, my heart, my service, don’t have other people connecting me to Christ, than my own words and labels mean nothing. I’m just wearing a jersey for a team I’ve never seen play.  
As Paul said to the church at Corinth, If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.” 1 Corinthians 13:1

The world is filled with banging brass. & for that, I am both saddened, and disgusted. I am sorry.

Heather is the author of 5 Christian books including Life AfterEden available now.

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