Tag: good

Conservative Christian, I Beg Of You, Why Can’t Love Be Enough?

Why don’t people go to Church?

Why do many cringe at modern Christianity with their gag reflexes in full bloom?

Why are conservative brands of faith losing so much of their credibility and influence?

Do we really want to know—could we handle the truth—would we even listen to their reason?

It’s not because of some kind inherent distaste for Jesus and a rejection of His Truth. It’s not from a deep dark cultural stronghold of apathetic spiritual laziness. It’s not because of some depraved aversion to God and holiness rampant within society. We may wish it were all so easily wrapped up and reasoned away with the simple declaration that the “world” is showing itself to be as hopelessly lost, blind, wayward, and carnal as we deem them to be—but they aren’t.

In fact, the Light God has placed within all people shines into the religious darkness of our day, revealing a disturbing manifestation humanity can’t ignore—the reckless tampering and deep distrust of Love within conservative Christianity. For all of our spiritual fanfare, many rightfully discern that something is deeply askew among us, and though they may not always be able to put their finger on it, they can’t shake the unsettling in their spirit. The one place, the one people with whom love should boldly rule the day, be adored in all its splendor, and lifted high up above all things, is among Christians. Yet, the loudest confession heard around the world from the megaphone of conservative Christianity is sadly this—”Love isn’t enough.”

Try as we might to frantically plaster heaping loads of lipstick upon the pig of our conservative brand of Christianity, people aren’t stupid. The Judas that is conservative Christianity has sold out Love in exchange for power, betrayed Grace with the kiss of control, and crucified it all into a self-righteous religion for the privileged—daring to pimp it as the one true authentic way of Jesus.

Instead of being unified by love and that being enough, we insist on gathering in cookie-cutter groups of like-minded people corralled together by a laundry list of beliefs, values, and vision we must agree upon to have membership, relationship, and community with one another. Love takes a back seat (if a seat at all) and must first yield to our creeds instead of our creeds first yielding to Love. Hollow Churches of fake unity span the horizon as far as the eyes can see—people resign themselves to going through the motions and agreeing on the surface in order to fit in and meet expectations. Love doesn’t rule in our churches, rules rule in our churches. Compliance, conformity, conditions—everything but Love. Spiritual growth is restricted and restrained—coloring outside the lines of conservative ideology is shamed, even if just for a season. Where Jesus wants to build longer tables where every creed, orientation, gender, belief, color, status, shape, and nationality has a seat, we build taller walls of every spiritual, relational, and physical dimension and try to sell it to the world as true community.

Instead of simply loving people and that being enough, we treat them as projects—a spiritual notch for our religious belts. Somehow we have convinced ourselves that we not only have the calling but the capacity to change people, even ourselves. What only the Spirit can do, we have hijacked into our own personal and corporate mission. The truth is, we don’t trust the Spirit, nor Grace, nor Love to do what only the Spirit, Grace, and Love can do—quite the opposite. Rather, in order to legitimize our own efforts and justify our fleshly interventions, we declare pure Grace to be cheap, unconditional Love to be dangerous, and the Spirit needing our involvement. While Jesus’ greatest concern is that people get more than enough love and believe in it completely, our greatest fear is that we would grant too much of it and cause people to trust it too deeply. You say that God loves me where I’m at, but enough not to leave me there—which is of course, where you see the beginning of your mission to try and fix me. I say, God loves me enough that He doesn’t need you to repair, change, confront, or direct me—His Grace is sufficient, His Spirit fully capable, and His Love is more than enough to do the trick—with or without you. See, that’s the real kicker, isn’t it? For if God ever did use you in another’s life to help in the molding, it would be through the fruits of the Spirit not the nails, crosses, proof-texts, and conditions of your conservative methodology. Why? Because I, like everyone else, am a divinely made person not a church mission project.

Imagine if Christianity became a faith where love is enough, and therefore our unity could be founded not on a contrived fabricated alignment of ambition, thinking, and believing, but on a genuine willingness to agree to disagree and embrace our differences—all at the table.

Imagine if Christianity became a faith where love is enough, and therefore the everything of what we had in common was our mutual respect of all people of all faiths, backgrounds, and settings as created and divinely imaged by God Himself no less than we or anyone else—no more discrimination, marginalization, or people-judging.

Imagine if Christianity became a faith where love is enough, and therefore we became a people of genuine equality, where everyone is beautifully different, and beautifully no better or worthy—no more one-upping, privilege-seeking, or people-labeling.

Imagine if Christianity became a faith where love is enough, and therefore the Spirit was given full trust and freedom to work in the hearts, minds, and souls of people as we simply loved them unconditionally—no more strings attached, fine-print, deal-breakers, or hidden expectations.

Imagine if Christianity became a faith where love is enough, and therefore loving people (beginning with ourselves) was the only “to do” if there ever needed to be a list—no more people-policing, sin-managing, fruit-inspecting, God-appeasing, faith-proving, self-improving, or becoming all-you-can-be for Jesus.

Imagine if Christianity became a faith where love is enough, and therefore we became a people best known by “the greatest of these is love” instead of “the greatest of these is us”—no more violence, condemnation, and insisting on our own way.

For sadly, we have made Jesus into so much of everything He is not and following Him into such a tiring, empty, phony, love-less, and selfish pursuit. If only we could see what we have become and the people who are dying on our vines, destroyed at the feet of our conservatism. The shade we throw at the world is scorching good people, nailing Jesus back upon the cross, and declaring to the planet, “Love doesn’t win, Grace isn’t sufficient, and Hell is the heart of the Father for people who don’t love Him back in return.”

Conservative Christian, I beg of you, why can’t love be enough?

Why can’t love be enough as the sum and singular message of the Gospel of Jesus?

Why can’t love be enough to bring us together and graft us into authentic community?

Why can’t love be enough to fulfill and maximize our divine responsibility and care for people?

Why can’t love be enough to make our worship attractive, churches deemed as successful, and our faith relevant?

Why can’t love be enough to drive our aspirations and quench our thirst for significance?

Why can’t love be enough to guide our exegesis, calibrate our theologies, and dictate our use of the Scriptures?

Why can’t love be enough for those with whom we disagree, believe to be sinning, or even show themselves to be an enemy?

Do we really need all this other stuff? Nationalism, racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, xenophobia, judgmentalism, self-righteousness, selfishness, and elitism? Bible-weaponizing debates, clubs with crosses on top, and a gun-carrying, militant, Republican version of Jesus who feeds the multitudes but denies healthcare to the hundreds of thousands?

Is this truly the heart and way of Jesus?

I just want to love God, myself, and people without restriction, conditions, or limits. I want to be free to journey with Jesus, fully abandoned to where His Grace might take me. I want to experience the joy, fulfillment, and satisfaction of a life lived outside the confines, condemnations, and religious rule-keeping of religion.

With a world watching, waiting, and carefully listening to the beat of our hearts in hopes of seeing Jesus.

Conservative Christian, I beg of you, for the sake of heaven and all humanity, why can’t love be enough?

Why. Can’t. Love. Be. Enough?

Grace is brave. Be brave.

Standing With The People You Can’t Stand

The root essence of every person that was, is, or will ever be… is goodness.

In the creation poem that opens its scroll at the front of the Christian Bible, God speaks the world into being. With hands coursing His artistic beard, He pauses between breathes to evaluate His living imagery. In rhythmic cadence, with each step He declares, “it is good.”

I love that God creates creation good, not perfect. It can go here, it can go there. Loaded with life force, the cosmic tapestry awaiting humanity’s weaving. Not without the capacity for hands to sew devilish patterns out of divine art. It’s good, remember, not perfect.

The Tempter in serpent form, exploited the Garden of its goodness. Playing his sole card of condemnation, the first human ones bit the bluff. Convinced they lacked in some way, unworthy of the worthiness etched into their being. What was natural became naked, and the yarns of shame and guilt slithered their coil through the threads of inherent goodness. It is a complex weave. And we, are a complex people in the arduous journey of trying to unravel from condemnation’s relentless entanglement.

This is the story of every human being, bobbing and weaving, wrestling to come out from under condemnation believed. It is the root of all sin. The catalyst of all that is religious. The genesis of all contortions, twisted personas, and justifications. Compelling us into the dance to heal or conceal a shamed heart. All of us have a life that tells a unique, complicated story and reveals a personal shaping from our quest to be released from the lie we swallow as truth… condemnation. Adopted perspectives, twitches, scars, blind spots, aversions and conclusions along the way. However beautiful or deplorable the verses we write, the views we take, the paths we travel. From this, the many layers and branches of our complexities are sprouted. Beliefs, attitudes, actions. The whole nest.

We are, complex people.

Yet, thousands of years later, chapters into humanity’s stumble-filled stewarding of life. A biblical writer Paul to a younger man Timothy, re-articulates the Spirit. Seeing underneath humanity’s blunder of intricate cuts, knots, and lose ends fabricated to mend the wounds of a soul believed to be shamed. God still deems our essence as… good. Always has been, always will be… good. After all the religious patches and patchwork, it is still… all good.

Sin was never who we are, it’s always been the fruit of a heart believed to be forever rooted in unworthiness and its garments of guilt and shame. Condemnation’s great deception, that we are lacking life, not loaded with it. Bad seed, not good.

No matter the different complexities, for good or evil, this Serpent-shame has wrought, the root essence of every person that was, is, or will ever be… is goodness.

Until Grace.

Grace, the only cure for a condemned heart.

Grace, the true catalyst for all this is right.

Grace, the maker of our new-creation identities.

Grace, the final triumph, resurrecting us beyond goodness.

Completely whole, in-condemnable in Him. At the cross, one and done. All finished, for all. Grace upon Grace!

This is not my evaluation, it is in fact the Christ’s re-creation. It is His mark, it is His stamp, it is His declaration. No matter how reckless, evil, eschew, or vile our wrestle from condemnation’s pursuit becomes us. All is still… good. Not just good… but now whole, pure, blemish free. Fully human, fully holy.

This is our mutual humanity. No one excluded.

This is our human story. All included.

The Finisher calls out, “All is Grace, and all are whole in Me.”

Even in full awareness and rest in this Jesus-proclamation. Realizing there is no longer any hold from which to wrestle out. The Tempter still tempts, to crawl back under Law, to bite the old bluff, to weave a curtain already removed, to escape from that which one is are already free. Ancient and modern messages, all to sew condemnation’s bitter seed anew.

This, we must remember.

It’s not where our humanity meets another human that sparks fly, it’s where our complexities collide. You say “Tomato” I say “Tamato.” You road is traveling here, my road is traveling there. Your understanding says this, my understanding doesn’t say that. Your coping looks likes this, my run from coping looks like that. Behind every person’s eyes is a story, that if they told you, would break your heart. We are all just trying, our best. To come out, stay out, from under… condemnation.

We are all human, and complex in being so.

Where that complexity needs Grace who can always be for sure, all we know is Grace is sufficient for all our complexities. In the tapestry we spin, we all need Grace.

No more, “Hate the sin, love the sinner.” We love others, as them, not just towards them.

This, we must remember.

Pushing out from condemnation’s relentless entanglement. Standing watch from being dragged back into the web of lies from which Truth has set us free. This is a shared story, from which we all read and must read others.

That Jesus died for all, we must stand with all… in all our complexities.

Not that I agree with all in mind, action, or spirit. But agreeing with Jesus. His evaluation of all is sufficient for my all.

I may not be able to stand you at times, but I am going stand with you for all time, as a fellow human being, in all of our complexity, God-imaged by our Creator, and included in Jesus and His finished work. Eternally loved, valued, and embraced in Christ. Free to be, who we are… human. In all our complexity.

Cutting through, with the sword of Grace that our differences might give way to our common goodness; not just goodness, but wholeness. That my insecurities may no longer eclipse my view of your God-imaged essence. That my ignorance of your story might give way to my standing under it, and even with it.

I may not be able, at times, to stand your theology, behaviors, attitudes, decisions, even telling you so, the same. But I will stand with you, nonetheless, even if you should walk away.

That I agree with your story, is not a requirement. That you have a story, is reason enough.

This is the Jesus call, for all of us… standing with people, particular the ones, we can’t stand.

Grace wins, yet again.

How to Truly Love Yourself Always

You aren’t stupid. You are just honest. You want to love yourself, but find it hard at times. You see the imperfections, the mistakes, the areas where you feel you don’t measure up. You are your own worst critic, spending most of your day analyzing your every move and people’s reactions to you. At the end of the day, you turn in your score card. Some good moments, some in between, some not so good.

Now, for the real question, the closing question of the day. How much can I truly love myself? How can I truly love a less than perfect performance. I know my secrets thoughts, my hidden desires, my concealed decisions. How can I truly love myself with all the contradictions in my life?

The truth is, if you focus on your performance in life, true love of self will always elude you. We can never measure up, make the mark, turn in a perfect report card. At best, we learn to accept ourselves and tolerate our shortcomings. But love ourselves completely… no so much.

The problem lies within what we are using to measure our lovability. Most of turn to our performance in life as the measure of our lovability. This is where we have gone wrong and given Satan the keys to our heart.

The truth is, your identity and true self is not attached to what you are doing or not doing in your life or with your life.

When Jesus died on the cross, He did much more than merely doing something FOR you (making it possible for you to go to heaven), He did something TO you. On the cross, the old you was put to death, and through His resurrection, an entirely new you was created. All of what God has done TO you on the cross becomes awakened in your life the moment you believe in Him and His performance on your behalf.

Loving yourself is about loving the real you. The real you is separate from what you are doing or not doing. The real you, the Bible teaches, is a “new creation.” The real you is holy, sanctified, whole, lacking no spiritual blessing, having the mind of Christ, a partaker of the divine nature (not sin nature), seated with Christ, and having the full righteousness of Christ. You are completely forgiven, past, present and future and stand with no condemnation whatsoever. You are an heir, priest, son (or daughter), and king in the Kingdom of God. Jesus lives in you and as you in this world.  This is the real you, this is who you are NOW, regardless of your performance.

The key to loving yourself is in loving the real you. It is in loving the Performer (Jesus) not your performance. It’s about loving His finished and perfect work in your life, not your unfinished and imperfect work. On the cross, all of the work on your life was declared “finished.” There is nothing left for you to do “on” yourself but to enjoy and live out what God has already done TO you. It’s not becoming who you aren’t, but fully being who you already are. Who you are is based on Him, not on you, it is based on what He has done TO you, not what you are doing WITH you. You identity is not defined by your performance, but rather your performance is defined by your identity in Him. The more you believe completely in the real you, the more you will live better, wiser, and more secure. Our actions always follow our beliefs.

Truly love yourself. God does. It is not based on what you are or not doing, but His love for you. He loved  the old you no less than He loves the real you. Don’t focus on your lovability, but on His loveliness. Why? Because His loveliness has now become your loveliness. The more you see Him, the more you will see the real you.

There should now never be another moment where you do not truly love yourself. There is no reason and will never be a reason why not to, and there is every reason to… love you.

© 2017 Chris Kratzer

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