Reader Email: “The whole idea of God being a bearded man up in the sky is far from what Christianity actually is.”
Date: January 17, 2009 7:13:45 PM EST
Subject: Turn the other cheek = love
I hope you’re having a fantastic day. Anyway, I just read your post “turn the other cheek” and I totally wished I was there to have an actual conversation about it. The turn the other cheek line is from the bible in the book of Matthew. Here is a translation of that scripture from the message bible, which is a translation of the bible but in every day english, not usually used as a substitute for a more traditional translation, but is helpful…
38-42”Here’s another old saying that deserves a second look: ‘Eye for eye, tooth for tooth.’ Is that going to get us anywhere? Here’s what I propose: ‘Don’t hit back at all.’ If someone strikes you, stand there and take it. If someone drags you into court and sues for the shirt off your back, giftwrap your best coat and make a present of it. And if someone takes unfair advantage of you, use the occasion to practice the servant life. No more tit-for-tat stuff. Live generously.
Basically what Jesus is trying to tell his disciples is made clear in the last two sentences: No more tit-for-tat stuff. Live generously. He isn’t trying to tell us to let people walk all over us or just take it, but he’s saying to LOVE, see love before you see revenge, pick your battles, which is something I think you do quite well. If an idiot sends you a hateful e-mail or another article is written about you, shrug it off and better yourself, don’t waste your time stooping to their level and returning the hateful act. You know, the whole two wrongs don’t make a right saying. Obviously, you must use wisdom to determine things, but the small stuff? Let it go. If it calls for it, stand up for yourself in a way that will make you stronger, address the situation if it requires that, but do so in a level headed and private way. Yes, privately. People are people, we’re all imperfect and have the ability to act horribly, but we also have the choice to do good, to love and to rise above. And it is virtually impossible 100% of the time. haha.
About the whole spiritual journey thing, I totally understand where you’re at. Before I say anything else, let me tell you that I know very well that not everyone is on the same path and that’s just life. So I’m not trying to convince you of anything, but I figured I’d share. I grew up in a very God loving household, my family is Catholic, and grew up thinking that I loved God and was involved in youth ministry, but then one day I just started to question things and I asked myself “Who the heck is this God that we supposedly love?” Instead of trying to find the answers, I jumped off the train and lived my life however the hell I wanted and was pretty much agnostic. To some people it was years of self destruction, to others it was years of good times, to me I think I was so drunk and rebellious that then it all seemed like a good idea, but years later I wish I could have saved myself from a lot of hurt and pain. Think tons of stuff that would make people think the church would burn down if you walked into the room. But slowly I started searching again, I thought of it all, tried a lot of it and it was all a slow, but steady, wonderfully crazy way back to find something. Funny, because I find myself Christian. Yep, Christian and not only am I Christian, but the crazy HR director at my church hired me on staff last year. Trust me, it still shocks me every single day and confuses a lot of people from past times. But it fits and I’m beyond happy. Not in the fleeting moments kind of way, but deep down inside no matter what the circumstances, happy. The church I’m at isn’t stuffy, it’s personal and fun, the main pastor has this crazy story about his life and it is non judgemental. Oh, and it’s huge. It is nothing I would’ve ever imagined, actually, my entire life is completely different from what I had in mind for myself, but it is better.
The whole idea of God being a bearded man up in the sky is far from what Christianity actually is. Christianity at the base of it all is about a relationship, a loving one at that. God is crazy, a rebel and absolutely amazing. He is not what I grew up thinking He was and I’m sure a lot of people can say the same. Christianity isn’t just for Republicans or conservatives or whatever stereotype people have placed on the religion. Two books I’d totally recommend that are witty, sarcastic and will have you thinking and considering things differently are Blue Like Jazz and Searching for God Knows What both by Donald Miller. It gives you a whole new look at spirituality, God, religion, people, the world and yourself.
I hope you find what you’re looking for. If you ever have any questions, let me know. Like I said, I’ve been in your shoes and I’ve considered it all and I’m not a holy roller, so I’ll get it. Have a good weekend and have fun on your date!
P.S. Your tenents and lessons are on track and I admire how you strive to actually live those things and not just say them. 🙂