*This is a repeat of a note I wrote several months ago. The phrase has been playing in my head (and in some conversations) over and over this week, as I have seen shocking, appalling statements being made by people who I know and who claim to know the God that I know. So I feel the need to post this again, with a few additions in the "That's not my God" section.*
Some of you know my background better than others, some of you because you were there for a lot of it:)
I was raised in a home with Christian parents, and we went to church regularly.
I also went to a Christian school...a very strict, legalistic Christian school. Just telling it like it is...I'm aware that some people will be offended by that statement, but I am pretty big on telling the truth. Thankfully, my parents did not have the same legalistic viewpoints, so I was able to go to that school and hear these statements about the Bible and God and come home and talk them over with my parents and come to a different conclusion than what I was being told at school. As I got older, I was able to study things out for myself and go "Hmmm, not what I'm seeing in that passage in Scripture. Interesting."
A phrase I often repeated in high school was "That's not my God." Most often, it would be my response when someone would say (as strangely it was often said) "You're going to have to stand before God on Judgment Day and answer for all the things you've done wrong." And I would sit there and think (and occasionally say, if I was feeling overly sassy at the time) "I'm not sure what God you're talking about, but that's not my God."
Jay's and my journey of choosing to not attend a church service at this point in time is very much centered around that phrase: That's not my God.
There was too much happening in the church (at large, not just a specific church, though that was certainly the case as well) that we would sit there and say "That's not my God" about.
Things would be said from up front in a church service that we would say "That's not my God" about.
Things would be done by people in the church, in the name of God, that we would say "That's not my God" about.
And as new parents, we sat and looked at our precious, sleeping baby and said "I don't ever want her to know that other God. I want her to know the true God. I don't want there to be any confusion about who God is. Because that other God isn't my God."
I think (okay, I know:) our decision to not attend church services has caused confusion and concern for some people who know us.
So let me be clear: We made this decision, not because we don't care about God and the church, but because we love them so much. We don't want to be a part of something that misrepresents God's name and who he is, because we care too much about him and his reputation in the world.
We didn't step back from attending a church service out of apathy for God; we stepped back, because we could no longer stand to be a part of something that so grossly misrepresented our God.
Every time I see something in the news about a "church" protesting a soldier's funeral, I think "That's not my God."
Every time I see some hatred towards homosexuals being spewed forth, I think "That's not my God."
Every time I see people using their (so-called) power and authority in a local church to lord it over others and frankly abuse people, I think "That's not my God."
Every time I hear a pastor say "Well, we here at such-and-such local church are doing things so much better than those churches down the street" I think "That's not my God."
Every time I see someone use Scripture to support their unloving attitude towards others, I think "That's not my God."
Every time I see a husband abuse a certain verse in Scripture as support for forcing his wife to submit to him, I think "That's not my God."
Every time I see a parent twist Scripture to support the fact that they are keeping their children down and not allowing them the freedom to choose their own way in life, I think "That's not my God."
Every time I have an unloving thought towards someone, I think "That's not my God."
Every time I hear someone speak of God as someone who's watching over our shoulder just waiting for us to do something wrong so he can punish us, I think "That's not my God."
Every time I hear someone spew forth lies about how a natural disaster is God's judgment on a certain group of people, I think "That's not my God."
Every time I hear someone say that we need to work hard to be good so that God will be pleased with us and bless us, I think "That's not my God."
Every time I hear of someone who is afraid to stand up for what is right for fear of personal repercussions, I think "That's not my God."
Every time I hear someone speak as though the United States of America is God's chosen people and gift to the rest of the world, I think "That's not my God."
Every time I hear someone say "I'm afraid of where our country is going," I think "That's not my God."
Every time I have a fearful thought that something terrible will happen to someone I care about, I think "That's not my God."
Every time I hear someone saying that God would want us to burn another religious group's holy books, I think "That's not my God."
Every time I hear someone saying that a mosque has no place somewhere in our country, I think "That's not my God."
Every time I hear someone claiming that Christians should have religious freedom at the cost of all others having religious freedom, I think "That's not my God."
Every time I see someone using Scripture to support their bigoted views of their fellow human beings, I think "That's not my God."
Every time I hear of church "leaders" abusing their power, I think "That's not my God."
As time goes on, Jay and I are more and more sure that there aren't as many people who know our God, as claim to know our God.
And I say that with no happiness and no pride; I say it with deep sadness.
(And at the same time, we believe there are many more people who know our God, who are not in the evangelical churches we grew up in.)
I wish everyone could know the God I know.
I hope my daughter comes to know the God I know. And that is why we don't want to be a part of a group of people who so horribly misrepresent him to the rest of the world.
I don't want to misrepresent him, and I certainly don't want my child to have any confusion about who God is.
I want people to know my God, not this horrible caricature that others have made of him.