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I Don’t Want to be a “Christian”

April 24, 2015

I ran across this video on Facebook Friday night. Around 11:30. I had just posted a status update about finally clearing out my inbox…managed to answer and reply to all of my email, file what needed filing and finally delete some things that were just taking up space. I’m down to two remaining emails, y’all. I feel liberated.

I was headed to bed, but I got sidetracked looking at one of my college roommates recent wedding photos. Don’t you love how Facebook allows us to see glimpses into people’s lives when we can’t be near the people we love? Anyway…as with any social media site, I somehow started jumping around from profile to profile; reading stalking and looking at photos, when a video caught my eye. I don’t do YouTube videos too terribly often, but this one got my attention. I’ve placed it below. Take a second to watch (it’s 3:00-ish minutes…I’m sure you can spare it and it’s worth it).

Preach.

Josh and I have talked about this very thing time and time again in our lives. This is a topic that gets me fired up and ready to start shouting. If I’d been in the room when someone started talking about this, I’d have been one of those women shouting hearty “Amens” and “Praise Jesus!”

I’ve been part of places where the moment you let your weakness show…admit to your shortcomings…let on that you aren’t perfect like Christian’s are “supposed” to be…everything changes. I’ve been on the receiving end of those judgmental stares. On the other side of the room when the whispers start. Been the brunt of an indirect but oh-so-obvious Facebook status.

It hurts.

And it’s wrong.

If you don’t know my story, let me give you a quick rundown:

I drank myself to the point in college where I should have ended up dead. Not only did I drink to an extent that I was an alcoholic at not even 20 years old, waking up hungover and spending the day itching for the evening when I’d party it up again, but I was also foolish with my choices…looking to hookup with whoever I could, whenever I could. Trying to find acceptance through popularity and doing what the “popular” girls did.

How I didn’t end up dead in an alcohol related car wreck or pregnant with an illegitimate child, is by God’s grace only. And it’s only by God’s grace that I’m still here and have reached the point in my life where I am comfortable sharing my mistakes and hoping that others learn from them.

But you know what? Those mistakes? Those stupid choices?

They don’t make me any less SAVED than anyone else.

We ALL have baggage. We all need grace.

If we didn’t, then the cross? The cross is meaningless.

I’m not bashing the church or saying we don’t need the church. God gave us the church-the body of believers we are supposed to come together with to worship and fellowship-as a gift. But, it’s been the church-the building, the body of believers thumping the scripture over people’s heads-that has led people away.

It’s the church that’s left me feeling many times over like I don’t want to be a Christian anymore.

idontwanttobeachristian

Because as unfortunate as it is, “christianity” isn’t the same today as it was when Jesus Christ walked this earth.

Christianity isn’t a once a week (twice if you go on Wednesday’s) thing to just check off your list.

It’s not driving  the most expensive car, to the most prestigious building, wearing the top of the line name brand clothes and sitting in the front row singing louder than anyone else, interjecting the “amen” in the right spot.

It’s not knowing or memorizing the most scripture or being able to understand Hebrew.

It’s not knowing the Books of the Bible or having the most verses highlighted on those tissue paper thin pages (Bonus points if you use something like the inductive method with all kinds of different colors, all coordinated in accordance to subject matter.)

It’s not looking the other direction when a brother or sister in Christ is struggling and needs your help. It’s not passing judgement or condemning someone over a bad choice or even a series of bad choices. Last time I read the Easter story, I’m pretty sure Peter denied Christ…not once, not twice, but three times.

Jesus rode a donkey. Not a Porsche. He wore a robe and sandals. Not Chanel and Jimmy Choo’s. He carried with Him the presence of the Almighty. Not a Michael Kors bag.

Jesus associated with the least of these so that we could have the greatest of his grace.

In fact Jesus was the least of these. Dig your Bible out and read-really read– about who Jesus was. Because he wasn’t who the churches seem be depicting him to be these days.

A church is fine. Going to church is fantastic. My family and I go every week.

But, who do you see in church? Your friends? Family members? People you associate with? Families that are part of the school attached to the church? Upstanding citizens of your city?

Do you see the least of these? Do you see the barstool type people? Do you see the broken, beaten and bruised souls that are all around us? Do you see the Vets holding the signs outside your local fast food place? Do you see the homeless man you always pass by, but manage to “turn the other cheek” to?

We aren’t too good to reach them. We aren’t too good to associate with them.

When did becoming a Christian…becoming a church member…take us from being ONE of the least of these, to thinking we were the BETTER of these?

The Bible tells us in the book of 1 John that all wrongdoing is sin (src).

Not some of it.
Not just a little bit of it.
ALL of it.

There’s no good sin and bad sin.
No right sin or wrong sin.
No little sin or big sin.
It’s ALL sin.

From that little white lie to the adultery. From stealing a pencil from your office (that wasn’t yours!) to murdering half a dozen people.

It all put Christ on the cross.
It all kept Christ on the cross.

And at the end of the day, when I stand before God at those pearly gates, I know that I will answer for the mistakes that I have made (and heaven knows there’s been a lot of them). I know that I will have to give an account of all the wrong doing in my life.

But when all of my transgressions are counted and the great and mighty Lord of Lords gets ready to place his verdict? I want to be sure that I hear him say, “Well done my good and faithful servant.”

If I have to be the “too good of these” to engage with the least of these, then how much like Jesus am I really?

Prostitutes.
Adulterers.
Tax collectors.
Lowly fishermen.
Shepherds who shot slingshots.
Blasphemers.
Thieves.
Murderers.

These don’t sound like the high society type to me.

And if associating with them makes me more like HIM…then that’s right where I want to be.

Because when Christianity becomes about being better than the ones who need to hear the good news of Jesus Christ, then I don’t want to be a Christian anymore.


Have you ever been on the receiving end of a church’s (or Christians) criticism and judgment? How did you feel? Are you under the impression that that’s what Jesus Christ is like? If it is, I’d love talk to you more about who my God is and what he is really like!

Because so many people are visiting from all over and landing on this post, I thought it was important to include the follow up posts for those who aren’t subscribing, sticking around or getting to know me, but reading this and then going on their way. This post was one of three so be sure to also check out I Don’t Do Religion and Jesus > Religion before you leave!
  1. […] or one exact moment where I can say I changed my mind. Maybe it was the post I read entitled, I Don’t Want to be a “Christian”, where I realized I wasn’t alone in my thoughts., maybe it was something else… Whatever […]

  2. Stephen says:

    I’ve had the same problem, with church, no one liked me. So I stopped going, it was ok at first, then I felt lonely and needed fellowship. After a number of years my wife and I found a small church, it was a good place to be, everyone there had problems and everyone loves to reach out to people, it was cool!!!!! Church is not perfect but we still need to go and reach out to others.

  3. Gene Call says:

    Good and needed point but for me I do not want to say I don’t want to be a Christian. I am a Christian—a Christ follower. The church I attend and participate in does have some people that have seen the hard side and times of life. They are partly there because they were hurting and wanting the “balm of Gilead” applied to their wounds. They are partly there because I encouraged them to be there as a safe place to be real, be hurt, and be healed.

    I hear you saying the same thing in a different way and so the comment really is to underscore the message I hear from your blog: as Christians, we need to be walking beside—not judging all brothers and sisters from every walk of life—just as Jesus and the original Apostles did. That’s how we do real church!

  4. RUTH MITCHELL says:

    I need to improve my daily walk with God by spending more time in His Word. I say to myself I don’t have time. But it’s a lie of the worst kind: to myself. I just don’t have the commitment. I’ve been a Christian for 49 years, and very involved in serving Him until 2006. Then I just quit. Things were going wrong in my life, my health, marriage and family relationships were failing; no one cared and no one listened. In 2009 my mom died. In 2010, I wanted to. Still don’t care one way or another. But I know God still has a purpose for me being here or I wouldn’t be. (Jeremiah 29:11)
    I just need to get my life back into God’s hands & out of mine.

  5. Sue says:

    My own family are very Christian right wing praise the lord and to hell with the poor. My brother will pray to God and call the president nigger the next. One day my brother said “Sue you are probably the most Christian one of the family. You always forgive”.
    I have refused to attent church because of the way the “Christians” go and pray and been good but as soon as they go out the door they trun to their normal day today hateful lives.
    I was considered the sinner by becoming pregnant at 20. I married my husband (now almost 40 years). I was a shame to the family even though my brother and his wife became drunks, were arrested lost drivers licenses, too thousands from my parents. I was the sinner.
    I tried getting their acceptance by donating my kidney to my dad. After our parents deaths my sister was left everything…..2 million….And because she was such a good Christian she kept every penny and everything for herself and my brother. All because I am a sinner and dont believe in their ideas of being a Christian.
    We have struggled and asked for nothing from family for 40 years but I still do my best for forgive. I am not a Christian but I do believe in Christ and what he stood for.

    • Gene Call says:

      —hear your pain Sue and agree that you were wronged! What I ask you to hear is that you were “wronged” by people—in this case your own family—not by people who were living an authentic Christian life but people who are like all of us to some extent—sinners! As some say in the South “you are not a biscuit just because you stick your head in the oven! Please don’t throw the baby out because the bathwater is dirty as the old saying goes. Christians are called to be authentic Christ followers striving to be obedient to God so that they enjoy a great way of living, please God and demonstrate to the world what a Christ-follower truly looks like.

  6. This is beautiful, Courtney. You are beautiful. I’m proud of you and yes… I too am not a Christian. I am a Christ Follower. His mercy is new every morning!

  7. Sheryl hysaw says:

    You are me

  8. mightytreeslayer says:

    “How I didn’t end up dead in an alcohol related car wreck or pregnant with an illegitimate child, is by God’s grace only. And it’s only by God’s grace that I’m still here and have reached the point in my life where I am comfortable sharing my mistakes and hoping that others learn from them.”

    This really hit home to me. Thank you for sharing your story. I went through something similar testing my limits while trying to find my place or purpose. Finding myself lost in who I was, what I was doing with my time. Questioning what makes people so well put together when I’m such a mess? If you ask me now what it feels like to have myself figured out, I still couldn’t tell you with 100% certainty. For me, I came to the realization that I wasn’t taking responsibility for my life. God’s grace is nice, but seriously give yourself some credit! You took responsibility and cleaned yourself up and that is beautiful. It doesn’t require religion to accomplish self respect. Drastically turning around a toxic lifestyle is such a difficult journey and I applaud you for your progress. Something else that stuck out was when you mentioned Jesus was about love. Love is so important. No matter what your religious background is the common ground is love. None of societies labels matter. Your orientation shouldn’t matter, neither should your religion, what makes people chatter shouldn’t just be opinions. Love yourself, love others, and give back to those who lack. Again, thank you for sharing your story!

  9. Elisha says:

    You are so right. I used to go to church every sunday and every since I turned 13 and had gone through my goth stage I have gotten judged by pretty much everyone there. They all also know I am bisexual and now I am being judged for the man I am dating. Due to all of this I have lost interest in goingto church and have grown further away from God.

  10. Jenny says:

    At the end of the day, the only thing Christ is concerned about regarding our salvation is if we are obeying what he commands. John 14:15 “if you love me keep my commands.” The problem in today’s society is that people are failing to realize what is the true commands of God in the bible and what were the examples Christ showed for his people to follow. There are so many man made teachings that are being taught in Christianity today. Sunday worship, easter, Christmas, revering the cross, and many more (Mark 7:8). None of which were taught by Jehovah in the old testament nor Jesus in the new testament. But if we really love Christ we need to follow his example (john 13:15).

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