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Finding the Authentic me

I came to faith in Christ when I was by myself. God revealed himself to me in a profound mystical experience. I knew God was love and Jesus was God. Several years later, I became involved in the charismatic movement, then Calvary Chapel. Perhaps due to an unconscious striving for acceptance, I quickly absorbed the zeitgeist. I wholeheartedly embraced militarism, nationalism, a pro-gun culture, and biblical literalism. I became Islamophobic, homophobic, and prejudiced. Theologically, I embraced pretribulation rapture escapist eschatology, dispensationalism, and fundamentalism. I supported historic revisionism, patriarchy, right-wing politics, and capital punishment.

As a group, conservative, fundamentalist, evangelical American Christians of Northern European ancestry, are more likely than any other group of people in the United States to own guns, oppose gun regulation, support capital punishment, oppose social welfare programs, express islamophobia, homophobia, and sexism, promote American exceptionalism and historic revisionism, support authoritarian right-wing politicians, and be anti-abortion (but not pro-life after birth). I was right there with them. 100%. Right down the line. It did not occur to me that everything listed above is diametrically opposite of what Jesus taught.

None of this was how I was raised. None of it was the authentic me. Instead, it was a false persona I created to fit in. I saw things in myself I did not like – anger, hatred, judgmentalism, pride. With the help of many, I’m relearning scripture and rethinking the most basic questions in life. Bible teachers, theologians, spiritual directors, depth psychoanalysis, friends, and family are aiding this reconstruction, at the foundation of which is the God who is perfect love, God’s Son who perfectly reflects who God is, and God’s guiding Spirit.

Because of deep loss and suffering, my religiophilosophical worldview unraveled, but Jesus didn’t go anywhere. Gradually, God is liberating me. I know and love some really kind, loving, Christlike LGBTQ folks. I’m seeing inconsistencies between the Jesus revealed in the gospel narratives and the image of God I was taught. I am friends with internationals, immigrants, African-Americans, Natives, people of other religions, people of no religion, and political liberals. And, I’m friends with some very conservative white guys too.

Slowly, I’m rediscovering, uncovering, my true and authentic self. The authentic me has a heart for the poor, disenfranchised, displaced, sick, mentally ill, homeless, dying, war-torn, despised, and rejected. He’s an anti-war pacifist. He’s a seeker after truth. He rejects nationalism, militarism, and consumerism. He wants to live a simple life. He loves Jesus now more than ever. He spends more time in prayer and meditation than ever before. He loves and understands the Bible better than ever. He really wants to live by the sermon on the mount.

I am learning to love.

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