NoThanks – Day Four
Today I am thankful that I can worship any way I want to without fear of persecution.
I am not a fan of “religion”. Never have been. Religion has been responsible for way too much destruction and hatred throughout history. Soooo not what Jesus was about.
What I am a fan of, however, is faith. Make that a huge fan. And my faith means I’m on a first name basis with that same Jesus who hated religion. His deal is love. Love God with everything you are and love your neighbor as yourself. To borrow a term from HisGirl, “Pow!”.
Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that’s all there is to my faith. I am simply saying that hunting witches, killing pagans, bombing buildings, stealing gold, etcetera, etcetera, and so forth, in the name of whatever god prompted these misbegotten beliefs is not part of my faith. I don’t believe it’s part of anybody else’s faith. Only the extremists and they’re the ones who get all the attention.
There are parts of the world where being a Christian/Jew/Muslim/fill-in-the-blank is a crime punishable by death. That makes me so sad. My beliefs are a part of every fiber of my being. My faith is not a part of me, it is me. I could no more deny my Christ than I could deny my children. And I don’t have to. Neither does anybody else in America, regardless of their religious affiliation or lack thereof.
Without giving it a thought I went to church this morning. I sang praises with my eyes closed so that it was just me and God. I thought about the sacrifice that was made for me as I took communion. I listened to and contemplated the message and the bible passages it was taken from. I hugged friends, I laughed with my daughter, I smiled at a stranger, I bubbled with joy.
And I never once, for even a fleeting second, worried about getting caught.
For that I am ever thankful.
A few years ago I went to Egypt volunteering for a christian organization that helps the poorest of the poor in the garbage dumps. That visit was really the first time I stepped out of my America-centric comfort zone and realized that people can (and do) die for loving Jesus. The families we met risked their lives every day to praise God out loud. And God’s presence there was electric. I keep a picture on my desk to remember many things about the trip, one of those being my ability to love God openly. Great post Jen, I needed this Thankful reminder.
What an amazing experience for you, Tara!