Posts Tagged ‘diversity’

by Jordan Hathcock

You have heard the idea of: “Unity within Diversity”. I’m all for it, but as a collective church (conservative to progressive), I don’t think we are truly desiring this to be a reality. We have our reasons, right? It can come from all sorts of certain expectations regarding how we all want church to look like. We desire it all to be nicely wrapped in one ideological bow. If we come to a schism in which this bow is being unwarrantedly unwrapped, we are going to have some problems when it comes to unity. Or it can be due to many religious traumas that we experienced regarding a plethora of unhealthy church practices. What are we to do? Well, I think both fears can be faced and conquered by (wait for it) HUMOR (didn’t see that one coming, huh?).

We should be more inclined to have unity within adversity. We all have our mountain of shit when it comes to our personal and corporate issues as a Jesus community. To come to a place of growth, stepping into the space of humor helps us get there. Cause let’s face it: If we don’t allow grace for ourselves and others to experience true freedomthen forget about healing and liberating the world (not to say that is our full responsibility…remember Jesus?).

Now as a church (when I say church I mean anyone who claims to be a participant in the Jesus way–not a particular denomination within Christianity, FYI) we need not to be the world police but instead, a light on the hill (I.e., an example). We are not going to be a perfect little community doing everything right but maybe more of a community showing grace to each other in the bad and good times? How about we let go of the stress of doing church right and become keener to our sense of humor. New physiological studies have found comedy to be the most effective when it comes to any type of stress:

“Two new studies from the Stanford Psychophysiology Laboratory demonstrate that, in the face of stressful imagery, comedy is a more effective coping strategy than solemnity – and positive, optimistic humor is more effective than cynicism. ”https://news.stanford.edu/news/2011/august/humor-coping-horror-080111.html

Doesn’t this tie in beautifully with our fears regarding church unity? A big part of becoming a place of unity (I.e., Grace filled) is when we overcome adversity together. Overcoming adversity can be a very challenging and stressful obstacle, no doubt. There really isn’t anything like going through the relationship gauntlet within the community context (especially a religious one…yikes). I think when we step into a space of humor, we are more susceptible to having fun. Look, I know forming a healthy Jesus community is not all skittles and rainbows. It’s tough work to say the least. But by understanding that to play within this community setting is a huge step in doing healthy community.

Pastor and author Peter Hiett spoke about how the judgment of God is actually fun. He puts it like this:

“We battle division with communion; we battle evil by passing the ball; we battle the void with the presence of God; we battle desecration with creation; we battle death with Love and when everyone loves, all is Life, and everyone that’s anyone wins the war.

And so why does Peter Hiett not have more fun?

He thinks it’s his responsibility to win that war.

It turns out that God has already won the war so that Peter Hiett can enjoy playing the game.

If you’re not having fun, don’t just make more rules about passing the ball—that’s religion.

Instead: Let this day, be “that day.” Let God judge you at the tree in the garden.

Watch him pass the ball. Watch him win the war and you will join the game that is a dance and has no end, for it is the end and the beginning; it is the Judgment of God—not death, but Life eternal.

PS You are his trophy. . . and he’s already holding you. So, enjoy the game.” https://relentless-love.org/sermons/the-death-of-fun-religion/

Can we enjoy the church game? Is it possible or even fathomable? What Heitt hits right in the head is this: we can be a people of joy, if we want to believe that the God, we follow is a God of joy. To impossible? It’s back to the whole fear factor of God, isn’t it? Do we believe God is love or fear? We must not take ourselves too seriously if we ever want to be a people of abundant life. As Alan Watts said: “Everyone takes everything to do with religion seriously. And you must understand that I am not a serious person; I may be sincere but not serious, because I don’t think the universe is serious.” Maybe we need more sincerity vs judgmental seriousness? Whatever the case may be, I think it’s time to start having fun and laugh within this faith we call Christianity. The fate of the world might depend on it (or not, just trying to be hyperbolic, ok?).

Jordan Hathcock began writing as a regular guest blogger and has been a great addition to the site. He also writes at his own site called Hazy Divinity He can be contacted by email at: jrhathcockss@gmail.com

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by Jim Gordon

Have you noticed how so many of us christian people seem to only include our preferred group. People who think like us and have faith like us. If you think differently, we feel you should stay in your own group with like-minded people, but leave us alone. Sorry to say I used to feel that way, but have thankfully changed my mind.

We seem to find this attitude in every walk of life, but within organized religion or institutional church seems even worse. We all should be accepting of people in general in our daily lives. Yet, we see this so often within Christianity with the wide variety of denominations and interpretations of the bible.

When it comes to including people who we see as completely different from us, African-American, White, LGBT, Atheist, Muslim, Jew and so on, we tend to want to keep each group separate. We think as believers in God we need to separate ourselves and not associate with those who see things differently. Why is it the word inclusion seems to make so many christian people cringe?

Really, behind all the labels we put on people we are all basically the same, so why not associate and get to know people who we feel are different from us? We can learn from one another and get to know one another and find that we really are not all that different.

We see Jesus do this all the time when reading the gospels in the bible. He did not differentiate people based on their religion, belief, lifestyle or nationality. He did not separate himself from those who thought, believed and lived differently. He loved and accepted all people and showed them the love of God.

Obviously loving and accepting people does not mean agreement nor are we going to always get along in life and live happily ever after together. Yet I believe it does mean treating others the same, with respect, kindness, acceptance and with the love of God through the power of the Spirit within.

Inclusion is not a bad word. It is not a bad or unholy way to live. Inclusion is about ALL of us. Inclusion is about living full lives – about learning to live together. It makes the world our classroom for a full life. Inclusion treasures diversity and builds community. It is about our abilities – our gifts and how to share them. Inclusion is the way of God and the way of showing the love of God to all we meet.

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by Jim Gordon

I grew up in the institutional church and was always of the persuasion that being gay was a sin. I felt that since I was pretty open by saying I hated the sin but loved the sinner, I was doing better than most. Yet, either way I was saying being gay was a sin.

I never treated those who were gay in a bad way. I never treated any of my friends or relatives who were gay any different than I treated anyone else. I saw them as normal everyday people, except for a great sin in their life.

Things changed on this subject, and amazingly it was after leaving the institutional church. I started to see that God loves people, all people. There was no ‘I love you but’ when it came to God. I started to read some on the subject (something I never dreamed of doing before). I read Justin Lee and Matthew Vines. I really thought about a God of love and how could that God condemn people for the way he made them.

I finally began to see the LGBTQ community for who they really are….people. Take away the labels and you have human beings like everyone else. Just because they were born with different sexual views does not make them second class citizens and does not make them deserving of the awful ways they are treated, especially by the christian world. They are doing nothing more than being themselves the way God made them.

Today I seem to have a special sense of wanting to show those who are LGBTQ that all straight people who call themselves christian are not the same. I want to help promote information and acceptance between straight christian people and those who are LGBTQ, whether christian or not. I can no longer say I believe being gay is a sin. I think there is a lot of misunderstanding and misinterpretation by the church and evangelical christians.

I do admit I do not understand the attraction of two men or two women. Of course, that is because I am straight. I bet those who are gay or lesbian do not understand me and my attraction to the opposite sex (well, just one person of the opposite sex, my wife).

I recently read a book by Amber Cantorna called Refocusing My Family. It is such an interesting read, telling of her questions, struggles and hardships in her walk with God and her family. Her traditional christian upbringing and her dad being an employee of Focus on the Family made it extremely hard on her when she came out as gay. What terrible struggles and treatment she received. It is so hard for me to understand how parents can disown their children, yet I know it happens all the time.

I also believe that the christians who still believe being gay is wrong, they are handling it all wrong. Whether you agree or disagree, our instructions from Jesus are to love God, love our neighbor and love our enemies. We are to love, not judge and condemn. I have read so many articles about the abuse the gay community takes: beatings, exclusion, disowned by their family, suicides, it is terrible. No matter what stand we take on the issue we are not to judge and condemn. As followers of Christ we are to be known for our love and for treating everyone equally.

I personally am tired of the way the christian church has treated those who are LGBTQ. Whether they agree or disagree they should be treating everyone with love. For me, I have concluded that being gay is not a sin and I fully love and accept all people just as they are. I hope I can show that love and acceptance to others in some way.

I do not completely understand it but for some reason this topic has taken on a new meaning for me. I am tired of seeing the abuse, the exclusion and the discrimination against those who are LGBTQ. Not sure where this will lead but hopefully, I can be a help by showing love and acceptance to those I meet who are LGBTQ.

Following are a few good books I have read on the subject with links to Amazon:

** UnClobber: Rethinking Our Misuse of the Bible on Homosexuality by Colby Martin

** Is God a Gay Basher by Jan Liebegott

** God and the Gay Christian by Matthew Vines

** Torn: Rescuing the Gospel from the Gays-vs.-Christians Debate by Justin Lee

** Unashamed: A Coming Out Guide for LGBTQ Christians by Amber Cantorna

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