Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Jesus Agenda


About a week and a half ago Desert Crone posted her take on Liberals and Christians. I agreed with a lot of what she said even though I am an atheist. So, as an atheist, I wanted to try to say the same thing, but with a different perspective. One that I formed over 30+ years as what I call, a Christian-magnet.

My parents raised me sans religion. They didn't raise me to not believe in God or to believe in God. In fact, I don't remember them really teaching or encouraging me much of anything when it came to religion and I am truly grateful for that. They raised me to be a clean slate to choose or believe what I alone am able to believe. The only true way to believe is to get there on your own.

But I had extended family and friends who had a huge impact on me when it came to forging what I did not believe. And for years, these people impacted in me in very negative ways. Without going into the drama and rants I would have loved to spew 10 or 15 years ago, I will summarize my early experiences this way: Christians are assholes.

That's what I came to believe. I couldn't believe how hateful, judgmental and hypocritical they were. WHY would I want to be part of their religion when I didn't like, agree with or even care to comprehend? Why would I want to be a fellow asshole?

Sadly, I thought this of some people in my life who I really should love.

Then, in college, I became friends with two wonderful women. They didn't try to make me something I wasn't or believe something I couldn't. Oh, they prayed for me to find whatever, but they didn't push. We would talk about religion and in our conversations, I felt a sincere desire to understand, not to believe, but to really understand them. Not their religion. I wanted to understand what made them want to believe. Although they didn't make a believer out of me, they did soften me to my hardened opinion of Christians as assholes.

And then I met my husband. My husband was raised in a liberal-minded, open-hearted Christian family. He doesn't consider himself a Christian, but if you knew him, you'd know he projects that which is ideally a Christian life - minus the acceptance of Christ as his savior. My husband, and his family became the new symbol of what a Christian can and should be. Seriously, his grandma, parents, uncles, aunt, cousins. They ALL walk the walk. And this stopped me in my tracks. I couldn't believe there were people who called themselves Christians, who led lives I could respect and they actually made the connection between their beliefs AND the ways they lived their lives EVERY DAY. Seriously. They didn't preach and judge me or anyone who didn't believe the same as them. Instead, they lived an example in a way I'd never imagined.

My husband's family was the first family I ever met who really lived what they said they believed.

And because of them, I really had to stop seeing Christians as assholes.

Since then, I have known many Christians who impress me. They support issues and causes and people that is perfectly in-line with their beliefs. None have converted me. I have no desire or need for a savior or a Heaven or forgiveness or any of that. But because of these wonderful Christians, I have worked hard at not labeling Christians as assholes. Not as a whole anyway.

That brings me to the distinction, that to me is quite simple. I love many Christians. And I despise many who call themselves Christians.

Jesus gave humans a to do list, or an agenda. It's not a hard list, or an impossible list. It doesn't require perfection. It requires simple tasks and thoughts. For someone to follow the agenda set forth by Jesus, one simply treats others well, cares for them, aides them. Easy peasy. The whole, "I'm not perfect, I'm forgiven" attitude is moot because Jesus didn't expect us to walk on water or perform miracles. Never did. He only "gives us what we can handle". Right? I mean, seriously, Jesus didn't ask us to be Him. He only set forth an agenda and hoped we'd follow it.

But when people who claim their principles are based on the Jesus agenda, put the Jesus agenda aside when it comes time to choosing elected leaders, when they choose a person who makes a career out of NOT doing the things on the Jesus agenda, and when they decide that there is a separate political set of principles that trumps their Jesus agenda, they essentially tell Jesus he's less important. YET, Jesus clearly states to render unto Caesar. And He never says, "Help the poor UNLESS..." or "Feed the hungry EXCEPT..." Jesus NEVER gave Christians an excuse to put His agenda on hold because of who was being asked to execute that agenda. Jesus NEVER gave Christians the option to not help people if helping meant helping via the government. He never said that if the government wants to help the poor people, using tax dollars, that Christians can or should choose otherwise. In fact, He makes it rather clear that Christians should be helping their neighbor despite any excuses.

So, that is why the many Christians I respect in my life tend to vote for liberal politicians, they support candidates who, using tax dollars or not, set policies that match the Jesus agenda.

When a Conservative politician says Americans can help the needy on their own dime, on their own time, and to leave government out of it, they say that the Jesus agenda is irrelevant. And that's where the irony/hypocrisy/bastardization comes in: when a party wants to put their faith INTO their politics then purposely eliminates the exact principles that define what they SAY Christians are about -- the teachings of Christ, the Jesus agenda -- that's the root of all their evil.

So when a Christian looks at candidates in an election year, they need to have their Jesus agenda handy. They need to look at which candidate supports policies that allow the Jesus agenda to be followed. They need to put away the concern over who will pay for it or how it will get done and just ask themselves which candidate's platform looks like the Jesus agenda.
And they need to separate the number of times a candidate says "Jesus" or "God" or "pray". Because the agenda is less about the church a person goes to, or how vocal they are in their faith. The Jesus agenda is about acting, not preaching, it's about helping, not hindering. The Jesus agenda is about simple tasks that each of us can do and that each of us can elect others to do.

I am proud to say that I know more and more of the Christians who actually vote the Jesus agenda. And although I don't accept Jesus as my savior, I think his agenda is a pretty damn good one.

EDIT: After a good discussion with a friend, one who is a true moderate and a Christian, I posed this thought to Republicans

Republicans need to ask themselves if they are putting aside that which makes them Christian just to vote for that which makes them Republicans.

4 comments: said...
This comment has been removed by the author. said...

Thank you.

vera lynn said...

very well done

NowhereMan said...

Excellent!I am not the most religious person in the world by any means but it just infuriates me when these mofo politicians and their supporters always praise Jesus but don't practice what he teaches.The one thing Jesus most spoke about was helping the poor and sick-the very people they hate the most! They must read a different bible than the one I read or just willfully ignore its most important message:take care of your fellow man.