As a pastor, I live in a unique place as a person of faith.
Whereas most have particular views on any given subject and go through ups and downs in their spiritual journey, my life of faith is a public one. I am asked every Sunday to give testimony to the gospel and God’s workings in the world. I preach in times of great spiritual summer and also in seasons of great spiritual winter too. I preach in my own seasons of joy and in those of doubt. My calling is to use my voice to speak no matter what. And so you hear it. You know me.
Also, I blog as well in an effort to be on an authentic, transparent journey as a religious leader. As a writing Rev., it is easier to attack me than it might be of others with the same beliefs, convictions or theological leanings. It is very easy to figure out (if you want to) my thoughts on this or that– though I write with the disclaimer that the views shared on this site are my own and not necessarily that of my family members, my congregation or even all people of faith.
In all of this, I speak and write for myself with the knowledge that one day I will have to give an account for my life before God for everything I’ve ever said or done, just like everyone else. But, some people don’t want God to do the judging– they want to do it.
I was in a situation recently where I was accused of not being a Christian simply because I shared a more inclusive view of scripture. It was said that I am not a person who believes in the teachings of Jesus. And while I respect the religious freedom of any who have the right to believe as they do, it was more disconcerting that a religious litmus test still thrives and is encouraged in our modern times. While such a comment was nothing I’ve never heard before (hey, you don’t get to be a female Baptist pastor without a few battle scars), it was disconcerting to me that this is where we still are as a Christian people. Pointing fingers. Throwing down the trump card. “I don’t like what you believe so I’ll say you aren’t a Christian.”
I would never to presume to assert my interpretations of scripture– and the inclusive message of Jesus that I see clearly laid out– on others in a “you aren’t a Christian” sort of way. Part of being a Christ follower is seeing the God-given light in others, no matter what. And, above all, I believe any who follow Jesus are asked to respect one another, even when we just have to agree to disagree.
While my first response is “Hello! I am a pastor. I love Jesus. Do you really want to call me of all people not a Christian?” I thought I might use this opportunity to open up a conversation with all of you. So I ask, what makes a person a Christian? And do any of us have the ability to judge our neighbors faith? Is this something that the church should be about?
I am really interested to hear what you have to say. Let’s talk, but respectfully with one another!