On Beer and Christianity
..."Make peace and be at peace. Treat each other with humility and patience. Help each other in love..."
I have had some interesting things said to me regarding my Christianity. Most notable was the comment regarding my love of craft beer and my love of Jesus, suggesting these are mutually exclusive things. I refer you to this Martin Luther quote: “Whoever drinks beer, he is quick to sleep; whoever sleeps long, does not sin; whoever does not sin, enters Heaven! Thus, let us drink beer!”
The Lutheran reformer was joking I suspect, and if not, I certainly do not believe drinking beer will help me enter Heaven. I'm happy to keep it up though, just to be sure...
I do identify as a Christian. But for many years I was quiet about this...not for embarrassment, but for not wanting to immediately be labeled "judgmental", "bigoted", or worse. I seriously thought for a few months in my 20s that I couldn't attend church anymore because it seemed (thanks media) that in order to do so, you had to renounce your love for your gay friends. Americans ages 16-29 were polled and 91% identified Christians as "anti-homosexual." NINETY ONE PERCENT. I guess I wasn't alone in my concern. In a recent sermon, our Pastor shared that something like 87% of Americans believe Christians to be judgmental. He pointed out as well that a good number of that 87% would be Christians themselves. Interesting when you think about it, no? Take also this point: I have friends who have posted hurtful comments on social media about "idiots" who believe in a "supreme being." Therefore, I now have friends who think I am an idiot and judgmental. How do I, as a modern Christian, live my life in a way that reflects my beliefs, without alienating others, but allows for me to share my thoughts and hopes?
Our mission teams were speaking recently about the wonderful service they had shared with others over the past year. One reported that when they go to help at the Reservations, they may not identify as Christians. Instead, they say they are "walking the Jesus walk." I loved that. I can only imagine the looks on the faces of some friends if I said that to them. I sort of giggled when I thought of it actually. Here's the thing though, stop and think for a moment about that comment. Jesus did, by all accounts, walk the talk. Jesus would NEVER had wanted the fighting, the hate, the attempt to ban a portion of the population from enjoying full rights based on their sexuality...I believe he would be appalled quite frankly. Even some non-religious folks have agreed to the historical figure of Jesus. That he was a teacher, he ministered to the poor and sick, and he did a lot of good. That is what Christianity is for me. The GOOD. I am so very sad for those in Christianity who do not have that...that do not have the joy of the faith...that somehow it has turned ugly, hateful, dividing.
My husband and I both recently agreed that one of the best things we ever did was start attending church together again, as a family. Among other things, it has made us really THINK. Our Pastors speak so eloquently on Sundays, they teach, they give you ideas, foundation, and reminders. No fire and brimstone, no admonishments or lectures. I imagine it is akin to my friends who meditate. That moment when the idea gels and you think "yes!" "This is how I should handle this problem," or, "goodness, I had better go apologize to that person"...it goes on.
Back to my fellow Christians, remember John 13:34 This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. I believe this is the moment in the Bible where the most important commandment was given. To. Love. One. Another. Not judge one another, not hate one another, but LOVE. This is what I wish for everyone. I honestly do not wish to convert anyone. I honor all my friends, their diverse beliefs, personalities, colors, idiosyncrasies...as I hope they do mine. Do I sometimes wish that the world could come hear our Pastors speak on love, acceptance, and the joy of our faith? Yes. Do I have a daydream that just hearing those themes could help heal so many souls and end some fighting? You bet. Does that mean that I think horrid thoughts about you because you do not attend my church or a church? NO. Do I judge those who do not attend every Sunday? Gosh no. I heard women make comments to my mother growing up "Missed you last Sunday Bonnie..." with THAT tone. You know what I'm talking about. The same one that says "you're in my pew" or, "that's MY seat."
I am not perfect. As the song says, "I'm just a soul whose intentions are good. Oh Lord, please don't let me be misunderstood." Anyone who knows me knows how far from perfect I am. They know that I do not always follow my own advice above, and have a difficult time loving everyone. I have a short fuse for some things. But I'm trying. I'm learning. I'm growing. And I have a touch point. A place to go to be reminded I'm not alone, a place to be given grace. That's all some of us need really. Grace.
Starting next month, I am embarking on a new chapter in my life. I will continue at the hospital as their volunteer manager, but I will now also be taking on the part time role of director of congregational engagement at my church. The role is so very similar in both places. To look for missions in need, and find those who are willing to fill that need. I love doing those matches. It is heart wrenching sometimes to read of others struggles, but to be a facilitator of filling the void is so very rewarding. And the days when it is super challenging? Ah, that's where the craft beer comes in my friends.
In closing, I think the answer to my question on how to not alienate or divide is to walk the Jesus walk. To treat others as I hope to be treated. I promise to keep an open mind, an open door, and an open heart. I ask that you do the same, in whatever aspect of life you know me (even if it's just this blog). Speaking of this blog, I suppose a good, old fashioned church supper recipe should be posted soon...with the appropriate beer pairing suggested.