A while ago I posted a link on Facebook about Christian singer Jennifer Knapp returning to music and coming out. My only comment to start was that I thought the decision might raise some ire, then someone asked me for more specific thoughts, at which point I obliged.
It didn’t take long before a friend of mine, a former church mate and devout Christian, also commented. She started out with something to the effect that it’s dangerous to “think” because our thoughts are not God’s thoughts and we are supposed to be transformed through the renewing of our minds. She went on to talk about sin and salvation and how our love is not the same as God’s love and that the only thing that matters is what God’s word (the Bible) tells us is right. It was apparent in her tone that she believed she was correct and that by virtue of my disagreeing with her, I would suffer some punishment when all is said and done.
As a Christian, I used to find it hard to reconcile this idea that we are not supposed to think for ourselves and that we were to be dependent on a preacher to interpret the Bible. And while I’ve been in quite a few churches that tout the verse “study to show yourself approved,” in practice, the premise of most has been to condemn anyone who actually took this scripture to heart and interpreted the Bible any differently than the majority.
This is actually a large part of why I have chosen not attend a traditional Christian church. Some of my friends call it a “heathen hippie gathering”, I call it spiritual fellowship. People from different walks of life come together to be inspired by spiritual leaders willing to give the gift of their wisdom without judgment.
One thing I’ve been sort of thinking about was my friend’s statement that we will be held accountable for the information we share with others. Maybe this was my indoctrination tugging at me but I felt as though she accused me of turning my back on God. I know she meant it all in love, so I simply thanked her for the discussion, but decided it best not to engage any further.
It’s impossible to explain the concept of love–the ultimate law–to a person so focused on taking the bible literally, who believes that anyone who disagrees with suffer the wrath of God and the only way to see “heaven” (whatever your interpretation may be) is through Christian salvation. There are many ways to experience God and millions of people all over the world who don’t even understand our Americanized version of Christianity (case in point: my Irish boyfriend with whom I can’t even have a discussion about religion because his frame of reference is Catholics vs Protestants).
The only thing that makes sense to me (someone who grew up in the church, went two to three times a week until I was a teenager and then again as a young adult, who was indoctrinated and found a different path) is that when all is said and done, the only thing that matters is love. If there was nothing else we were to take from Jesus it was that love covers a multitude of sins and we were not to assume we know better and are better than anyone else. We are to treat people with love and through our demonstration of love, people will see the God within. In fact–we are taught–God is love.
So if God is love and God is all there is, then love is all there is.
Some people will never understand this concept, which is fine. I don’t need others to understand, but based on my understanding, I will always try to act in love. I will do my best to treat myself, my kids, my neighbors and strangers on the street with love, because that was the ultimate lesson in Christ’s sacrifice.
Love is all there is. Walking in this level of love has taught me the true meaning of unconditional love. It’s the kind of love that leaves everyone space to be themselves and the strength to truly forgive. Love leaves us to work on our own lives, faith, livelihood and development of gifts without worrying about what others are doing. Walking in love leaves us to be beacons of light in an often dark world.
The choice is easy and every time I will choose love. Because what else is there?