“I just want to be a Christian” . . . it’s the refrain of the last few months. Often followed by “Is that a thing?”

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About every third time I voice it, Steven suggests I read CS Lewis’ Mere Christianity. Apparently, he faced the same perplexing conundrum. According to Steven’s paraphrased synopsis, Lewis concluded that denominations are rooms off the hallway of Christianity and while you can take a breath in the hallway, you can’t live there.

I am currently in the hallway. It’s not that I have become disgruntled with one denomination and enamored with another. I think, if I’m honest–which I strive to be, I’m annoyed with people who claim Christianity in general.

I have found myself over the last year frequently considering what Jesus would think of what we call Christianity today. What would he think of how we use his words as weapons for our own agendas, disregarding any carnage as long as we can say it’s in the Bible.

And one night I found myself posing this question: Even if Jesus was simply a rabbi, a teacher as mortal as me, how would he like what has happened to his words? Being a former teacher, I can relate to the feelings one incurs when what is taught is perverted. Therefore, if I believe Jesus is the Son of God, wholly man and wholly God, how much more should I consider what he thinks about the usage of his teachings?

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When I read the “red letters” I find love, compassion, empathy, forgiveness. Any condemnation is directed at the mistreatment of any person, often that mistreatment couched in the letter of the law. Jesus was a law breaker in that he didn’t allow tradition to keep him from compassion. Some might even say he used common sense. You don’t leave a donkey in a ditch to die, therefore, if you can help your fellow man, you do. Jesus didn’t pal around with perfect people because perfect people don’t exist. He offered grace. He offered love. He offered acceptance. . .all to the outcasts. In doing so, he illustrated that we are all outcasts. And if we think we have to be perfect to deserve love, we never will feel worthy of love–so he showed love to those who had been denied love and acceptance–the lepers, the beggars, the tax collectors, the tent makers, the fishermen, the women.

This is the Christian I want to be. I don’t care if you’re dunked or sprinkled. If your accountability to God includes a priest or doesn’t. If you drink grape juice or wine. If you have music or chants. If you sit in silence or speak in tongues. Or any of the other litany of differences among denominations.

Eventually, I will find myself back in a room. One I probably won’t agree with 100% because churches are great except they have people (as my dad once said).

But what it will have to do is show love and compassion and grace and acceptance for all us outcasts.