Recently I had a conversation with someone who, despite a healthy back-and-forth about an issue we disagreed over, decided they needed to unfollow and unfriend me on social media because of that single issue. Now, I completely understand their reasoning and have done the same thing in the past.
But it occurred to me after this interaction that that person should have known well in advance of this interaction exactly how I felt about this issue, but they didn't. They were genuinely surprised that I believe the way I do, even though I have believed this way for at least a couple of years.
This forced me to realize that I have been "neither hot nor cold," about some issues that are controversial in the American church, for fear of confrontation.
A few weeks ago, a friend sent me a screenshot of my Facebook page description, which says that I am "an aspiring theologian." My friend admonished me to remove the word "aspiring," because in her eyes I am a theologian. But, it's impossible for me to change that description with a clear conscience so long as I am not being openly honest about who I believe God is.
It's particularly daunting to be honest about what I believe to be the character of God when I live in a country in which the vast majority of those who claim the name of "Christian" believe the exact opposite from me. Being honest about my understanding of God may mean alienating huge swaths of the "Christian" population. So if I want to be a pastor - and I do - this is a real risk.
But, one of the main things I have learned about what it means to live a life with God is this: that God equips us to impact the world from our places of woundedness. God never causes our wounds, but because Yahweh is always working everything for good (Romans 8:28), the Spirit of God uses those wounded areas of our lives to impact the lives of those around us for good.
For me, this means that I have been and am being equipped to first, be an ambassador for change in the church, and second, to rally around those who have been wounded by Christianity. To those inside the church, I get to be the crazy person who just won't shut up about the injustices I see. To those who have been kicked out of the church by injustice, I often get to be the one good Christian they've ever met.
So before we get into it over Facebook messenger, I just want to be very clear about who I think God is. That way you can decide now whether you want to just go ahead and click that "unfollow" button.
The God I know is a God of all-encompassing love and inclusion. The God I follow knows no strangers. The God I love, loves everyone with a fiery passion. Which means that you’ll be seeing me posting content about LGBT+ affirmation, pacifism, patriarchy, abusive theology, sexual abuse in the church, and other similar topics. Because I am a theologian – an amateur one – and the God I know cares deeply about these issues. The God I know has been misrepresented, and the Jesus I follow has been weaponized by people who have been hungry for power.
I'm here to remind my fellow Christians that we serve a God who is so much better than we ever thought possible. I'm here to show the vehement non-Christians that the God of the Bible was not the One who abandoned them in their time of need. I'm here to prove through whatever means necessary that God is a God who shows up, and that God shows up most often by sending a person to jump into the mess. So here I am, jumping.
You can unfollow me, or you can jump in with me. I'm not going to be lukewarm anymore.