Yesterday, as I was writing about my experience at my mom’s “memorial service,” I definitely had a lot to say. I wrote a lot of wonderfully worded stuff about the man who claimed to follow Jesus’ teachings and spoke yesterday. My writing was intense. Angry. Negative. And boy, did it feel good. I thought I should sleep on it. And then, as I prepared to sleep, feeling so exhausted, it hit me…
I’m incredibly fortunate.
You see, the lousy excuse for a Christ follower who claimed to be a “preacher” uses his pulpit just as I use this blog. He’s trying to get his message across. And yes, it is HIS message. Jesus would not have said many of those things that man said yesterday. And – for a Monday afternoon – he had an audience of mostly people who he’d never seen before. He used that time to spew hate. Anger. Fear. Condemnation for anyone who disagreed, even a little bit. Intolerance. Politics. A lack of compassion. Think about the story of Jesus and tell me — who does that sound like more? The man ON the cross or the people who put him there?
So I’m fortunate because I know when to say enough is enough. I know when to ignore the socially acceptable move and go with the morally required one. I know when to stand up. I’m fortunate because I know one bad apple doesn’t mean they all should be blindly tossed out. I’m fortunate because I have amazing friends who support me in doing what is right, which is not always what is easy or what you want to do. I’m fortunate because more people will read this in a day than people who will hear that preacher in a month. I’m fortunate because I can get angry and transition that anger to something productive — not just name calling. Not just hate. Or intolerance. Or negativity. Something that matters. Something that I — and hopefully others — can benefit from.
I’m fortunate because I only had to endure an angry man’s rant for a few minutes before I got up and walked out. I’m fortunate because I knew that’s exactly what it was — an angry man’s rant — not something from God or for God. It was for religion. It was for pride. It was for prejudice. It was because he could, not because he should. Others have to sit there and hear it over and over again. What’s worse — even more people probably CHOOSE to sit there and listen to that garbage. Why do you think so many people are angry in this world? Is it ACTUALLY the world we live in or is it people like him telling them they should be angry. Telling them all is wrong with the world while the world changes around them, for the better.
I’m fortunate because I get to let this experience shape me in whatever way it will and I get to move on. I never have to go back. I never have to see that person or that place again and I surely never have to give him or any of them any ounce of respect. Respect is earned. Leadership is earned. Honor is earned. That man, that church, that congregation has none of it. And I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: If those people are the kinds of people that God wants in heaven, it doesn’t sound like any place I’ve heard about or would like to visit.
I’m fortunate because I know plenty of people who call themselves Christians who would have been ashamed of that man in that “church” yesterday. Unfortunately for him and the man he claims to represent, others may not.