Actually, I should say, I don’t like most Christians today. Wait. What I really mean is, I don’t want to fight with Christians anymore.
I was once a youth pastor, a speaker, a worship leader, an avid blogger, and a radio host. Everything that entered my brain was spit out in 140-characters. I remember the days of running to church, running to leadership positions in the youth group, running to conferences and conventions and choirs.
I remember running to tell others of my faith. I remember running to Bible studies and opportunities to spur others on and sharpen one another. These days, I run away.
I cringe when I think of sitting and discussing anything more than the extremely superficial with those who aren’t my most-trusted confidants. I’m content to show up five minutes after Sunday service starts, sit on the third row from the back with my wife and children, and sneak out during the benediction.
For the first time in ten years, I have no leadership role or even anything that would resemble involvement in my local church. I go a few times a month, and that’s it.
Why am I OK living this way? Because I’ve stepped out of the conflict among Christians. When I am anonymous, I have no chance to offend someone with a Facebook post, to feel like I have to choose sides in a cultural debate in order to honor God, or to be ostracized for seeing the world differently.[clickToTweet tweet=”I’m a walking contradiction. You too? Read this! #graceismessy #SpiritualAbuseSucks” quote=”I’m a walking contradiction. You too? Read this!” theme=”style3″]
I’m too liberal for the Republicans and too conservative for the Democrats. I’m a thirty-something Southerner, born and raised in the buckle of the Bible Belt. I’m too fundamental for the spiritualists and I have too many questions for the fundamentalists. I was dunked by the Baptists, spoke in tongues in the Assemblies of God, went to a Church of God college, returned to my Baptist roots as a youth pastor, found healing in the Methodist church, agree with about 80 percent of the Catholic Church’s teachings, and now attends a congregation where they meditate before the pastor speaks. What the heck is going on?
I attended George W. Bush’s first inauguration as a senior in high school but have voted against Donald Trump in the last election. I study the King James Bible with a concordance but I read The Message on my iPhone for enjoyment, while having a glass of wine and smoking a cigar. I’m a walking contradiction.
Maybe there was once room for people like me. Maybe everyone is like me, if we’re all honest with each other. But our culture no longer allows contradictions. I run from discussions with other Christians because it almost always ends poorly. A loss of friendship, a loss of faith, a loss of fervor. I’m tired of being burned.
But maybe disengaging from any political or cultural stance is actually making me a more faithful follower of Christ.
I’m running away from Billboard Christianity that plasters slogans and quotes on t-shirts and news feeds, but I’m running toward the Jesus of the Gospels, who takes me just as I am, despite my contradictions.
I don’t know if the rapture will actually happen and I don’t know if the Russians won the election. I don’t know if speaking in tongues is real, and I’m not sure how I’m supposed to feel about Planned Parenthood. I once thought the King James Bible was the only legitimate version, and now I’m not so sure. I have heard people say The Shack is heresy, but I think I may have found the real Jesus there. And when I slow down, I hear God whisper, “I never asked you to have all the answers”.
I don’t have all the answers, but I do know Jesus. So maybe my political views don’t matter anyway. What I know for sure is God loves me, and wants me to love my neighbor. I am doing my very best, as a very broken human being, to live these two realities out in the best way I know how. Otherwise, I’m keeping my mouth shut.
I used to live my life publicly but I no longer have the energy to fight with other Christians. Maybe running away from the fight is the best way for me to run toward Christ.[clickToTweet tweet=”It really sucks to be a Christian right now. #graceismessy #SpiritualAbuseSucks” quote=”It really sucks to be a Christian right now.” theme=”style3″]
If you find yourself feeling the same way, stung by church hurts and left spinning after spiritual abuse, join my 6-week online recovery small group. If you have stepped back from the church, but still want to engage your soul, this is the perfect group for you!
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Steve Austin is an author, speaker, and life coach who is passionate about helping overwhelmed people learn to catch their breath. He is the author of two Amazon bestsellers, "Catching Your Breath," and "From Pastor to a Psych Ward." Steve lives with his wife and two children in Birmingham, Alabama.
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