Thursday, March 27, 2008

Why I call myself a Christian

Ummmm. Today a friend sent me a forward entitled "When I say I am Christian", and it was lovely. But, when I say I am Christian, I mean that following Christ's teachings makes more sense to me than anything else. I mean that I believe the Christ is God. I mean that I'd rather take the Judeo-Christian history and writings and try to make sense of them for the here and now than to write my own concept and history of God. It's easy to say.

Living out my Christianity is much more difficult. Love your neighbor. Okay. That's easy, I see him about twice a year and he's a good neighbor. Not difficult. Christ as manifested in Jesus says that I have to love my enemies, too. Doesn't say I have to agree with them, be around them, tolerate their insanity - but Jesus does insist that I love them. I love Osama Ben Laden. He's a child of God, however insane I may believe him to be. He deserves the love and grace of God just as much as I do...though i freely admit that I've never ordered the murder or destruction of anyone. My anger does not rage that strongly. I have wished someone would have a bad day, but I don't think that counts as more than a venial sin or simple idiocy - as if to believe that I had that much power.

Power, that's what living my Christianity is about. Power, what I have, how I use it, where I bestow it, how I rein it in, when I turn it loose. Okay, I tried to skip what I mean by this business of power and Christianity. In this world each person has a certain amount of power. For some power is perseverance - the squeaky wheel gets the oil. If enough people write to congress, congress eventually listens. That's power.

Power is being aware of all the benefits I have had in my life because I am white and intelligent and well educated (in spite of having gone to school in Mississippi). That's when I learn to rein in the power that I have.

Power is about choices and how I can help others have choices. My personality is usually an assertive woman. I am strong, and I can speak well and for others who have no voice or are ignored. I am compelled by my Christianity to open my power to be used by those who are mistreated, ignored, hungry, homeless, powerless.

Power is abused by every one of us. Ted Kennedy in settling his complicity in a woman's drowning. Presidential candidates in slinging mud at one another. Charismatics who draw people to them with false promises and use the people for their own ends. Fanatics, tyrants, ordinary white women, me.

Power gives a person control and choices. I like to think that I have control of my life. (Give it up, sharecropper, you know better.) See my rational self knows more than my emotional self sometimes. And, I like to think that I don't need to control, but, if I think that, then I have choices that keep me from being trapped.

My Christianity says that I have lots of choices. I can choose life or I can choose death - figuratively and literally. Death is the ultimate choice, but I have lots of choices to choose a slow death by ignoring the needs of others, but using my power for my own self aggrandizement. And, I can try to control others through my power.

I'm not about control (though I fight it a lot). As a Christian, I am about feeding the hungry (sending a godchild a grocery card, donating to a food bank, inviting friends for dinner and companionship). Hunger is not simply wanting or needing food. Hunger is a longing for love and acceptance, too.

So, dear friend who sent me the "spam" about Christian, I mean that I am called to live my life by using my power to benefit others. I am called to control my insanity so that I can be a living example of what is good and right. And, I am called to love not only my neighbors and my enemies but also myself. I am called to forgive as I am forgiven - freely, graciously, and without fear.

Being a Christian means that I take account of my life on a day to day basis. Praise myself for the good, rue the bad, accept forgiveness and go on to the next day.

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