This was originally posted to my personal web site and wasn’t intended for PaganCentric. But a few folks were of the opinion that it should be here. So here it is, for better or worse. ~ Wicasta
It’s been said in some circles that I have a problem with Christians. It saddens me that some people believe that, because that perception is wrong. While I don’t think of myself as a Christian, I was raised in a Christian home. My mother was deeply religious, in the best possible way. My grandfather was a Baptist preacher, as was my great-grandfather, and I grew up in a Christian church in Kings Mountain, North Carolina. I’m not just some provocateur on the periphery who flings aspersions at people “of faith” to bolster my own sense of superiority. I’ve read The Bible more than most of the people who are fond of thumping it. Suffice it to say, I’m not unfamiliar with the material.
I do understand why some people think I have a problem with Christians. I am critical of people who claim to be Christian but contradict the very word “Christian” with how they live their lives (usually at the same time they’re wagging their finger at other people for not being Christian). This is not a judgment on my point. I don’t have the right to judge anyone, and I really don’t care how others live their lives. But if you want the free pass from me that comes with being a Christian, I’m going to expect some credentials. Among the many teachings of Jesus Christ that I carried with me when I parted ways with Christianity, one simple constant remains;
“You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act. Can you pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?”
~ Jesus Christ, New Living Translation
You see, what I do have a problem with is fake people. When it comes to Christians, telling me you’re a Christian does not get you a free pass. Too many people in my life have claimed that label without ever living the Word. They represent the most treacherous and vile form of Christianity, because their false, but angrily professed, faith is perceived by them as a blanket permission to do whatever they wish, cloaked in the forgiveness and glory of Jesus Christ, shielded from any repercussion. You hear a lot from these people in the political arena, where they seem to believe you should not aid the poor, lift up the weak or show compassion to anyone who isn’t Christian, much less your enemies. In short, these are people who contradict the teachings of Jesus Christ in nearly every word and deed, and yet still feel, as Christians, superior to others, secure in their belief that, no matter what, they’re going to Heaven when they die because they wore that team jersey their entire lives.
Well, here’s the problem where I’m concerned. This is why some thin-skinned people think I don’t like Christians…
My base-line comparison is, and always will be, my mother, Peggy Chaney, whom I saw genuinely struggle with her faith and perceived failings almost every day of her life. Mama knew she wasn’t a perfect person, much less a perfect Christian, but she knew in her heart what a Christian was supposed to be, and she tried to be that in ever word and deed. When people wronged her, Mama didn’t try to harm them or discredit them in other people’s eyes. She prayed for forgiveness for the bitterness or anger that she felt in her heart. She prayed for the people who wronged her, that they might see The Way and find themselves eventually upon a better path. In every way, shape or form, whether she was always successful or not, my mother tried to be what you’re supposed to be as a Christian, and everyone recognized the basic goodness and gentleness of spirit that flowed through her from her faith.
If you want it to mean anything to me that you call yourself a Christian, you have to understand that Peggy Chaney is the standard you’ll be measured against. And that’s a high standard. But you know what? It should be. You don’t have to be as good as my mother, nor do I expect you to be. But Mama had a light within her that I will look for in you. A spark. Absent that light, your words and proclamations of faith will be taken with a grain of salt, because I’ll know you’re all talk. So don’t be offended if I reserve the right to see what kind of fruit you bring into the world and into my life. And don’t expect your judgments of me to mean anything if there’s no light in you.
I don’t expect you to be perfect. But I expect you to try. And if you tell me you are a Christian but contradict that word with every act and deed, don’t be surprised if I call you out. No, you don’t answer to me. I don’t expect you to do what I think you should do. But I would not be the person God made me if I did not point out that you are on a dangerous path, and that if there is a Heaven and a Hell, as your faith insists, there are going to be a lot of surprised Christians shoveling coal in the darkest depths of Hades once the ledger has been balanced. I would prefer it if you are not among them.
Now, in closing, I should tidy up a bit, because I’m sure I’ve confused my Pagan, Buddhist and Jewish, et al, friends who might have come here, who might see this as a recent embrace of Christianity. You must understand that this is not really something I’ve written about Christianity, but about the convenience and shallow-ness of professed faiths.
If you must know, it’s fairly easy to know what I think about you and your religion, as well. Just start at the top, and replace “Christian” with your faith, whatever it may be. Replace “God” with “Goddess” or “Buddha” or “Allah”. You see, that light that I saw in my mother didn’t come from a book or a church. It came from the Divine. And it came to her because she spent a lifetime reaching out and trying to reflect the beauty, grace and love of the Divine. So, basically. Pick a religion. Any religion. This applies to you, too. You can call yourself whatever you like, but in the end I will know you by your fruit. And I will expect that light.
And so I ask you…
What fruit do you bring into the world?
How brightly does your light shine?