When I came to faith during the Jesus Movement of the late 1960s and 1970s, I gobbled up information from Bible studies, books, tapes, and big Christian events. I soon knew so much … and so very little. Over half a century later, I am only a beginner.
I was taught a warrior god who was coming with blood, death, plagues, and vengeance – a god who will relegate all whose belief systems are askew to eternal fiery torture. I was taught a flat Bible where every verse was equal, so I could easily trump the words of Jesus with those of King David. Mine was an intolerant, patriarchal, homophobic, nationalist faith. In my world, “true believers” were called to conquer society with its educational and governmental institutions.
Then, it all came crashing down. My marriage collapsed, the church I founded rejected me, many Christians condemned and judged me, my son committed suicide, my dad died, and, when I got close to some of the power influencers of evangelicalism, I found deep flaws. Many churches and parachurches looked more like corporate America than Jesus. The whole system of beliefs and presuppositions I had built around my relationship with Jesus crumbled. I discovered that the Jesus I had learned about was not the real Jesus at all.
The real Jesus never left me, never condemned me, never rejected me. I believe in God. I am certain God is exactly like Jesus and that there is, therefore, nothing unchristlike in God.
Today, God is teaching me to know the real Jesus – the Jesus of gospels who forgives 70x7, weeps at gravesides, subverts empires and religions, and whose nature in all-perfect Love.