sent in by Someone
I was a "Christian" for as long as I could remember. One of my earliest memories was talking with my grandmother one night -- I must have been four or five -- and asking her about Jesus. As we talked she told me she had something called a prayer language, which gave her the ability to speak in tongues. I asked her if I could hear her speak that way, and she did. Then I asked her how I could have one too. She told me that you receive a prayer language when receive the holy spirit, and that you receive the holy spirit when you asked Jesus into you heart. So like a good little girl, I asked Jesus into my heart and waited for my prayer language. Nothing happened. I went back and asked my grandmother what happens if you don't ever receive the holy spirit and she told me that you go to hell. She then proceeded to describe, in vivid detail, what hell was like.
I was haunted by the thought that I would go to hell for years. I felt that I was somehow inadequate -- that I had been born "not good enough" for God and that I was destined for hell. This was compounded by the fact that everyone else in my family had visions, saw angels, prophesied, etc. As if to validate my fears, I came across a bible verse in one of the bible studies I went to that stated something to the effect of "you were chosen by God before the beginning of time." Well, conversely one could assume that God deliberately did NOT choose some people before the beginning of time, therefore effectively destining them for hell.
That really bothered me, as this idea was in direct conflict with the doctrine of "God is love." Then of course there was the usual high school drama of Christian kids always being the partying, promiscuous, popular crowd and shunning me for the most part. (I was an army brat so I grew up the perpetual new kid.) At one point I went on a youth group retreat and when I got back the pastor from the church called a meeting with my parents to tell them I had been having sex during the retreat, when I was still a virgin. Apparently some of the other kids had made it up.
So yea, I became pretty angry and resentful toward Christianity. I felt hurt and betrayed by its God and its savior, who appeared two-faced and hypocritical, both from my perception of church doctrine and in their character as reflected by their followers. I considered quietly leaving the faith all together, but then I really began to think about it.
The truth is, people aren't perfect, and certainly a collective religious group is going to have its flaws magnified in accordance with its size. Christians are by no means a good reflection of who Christ was, and this became clearer and clearer to me the more I actually read the bible and literature on Christianity itself. Jesus himself was probably one of the "best" humans who ever walked the planet -- in every sense of the word. He underwent a horrific ordeal in order to help his fellow man, and no matter how you read the bible or whatever theories you subscribe to, this is basically at the heart of the story. Down the ages, his teachings and his example have been horribly twisted, diluted, and taken out of context to suit the needs of an increasingly bureaucratic and hierarchical church, so that today, far from drawing people to Jesus, Christians are essentially driving people away from organized religion.
I believe it was Mahatma Gandhi who said "I like your Christ, I just don't like your Christians." I understand the pain and frustration that many of the people who confidently label themselves "followers of Christ" cause every day, whether they know it or not. But before you leave Christianity completely, I encourage you to look at the Bible for yourself. Forget anything you've been taught about it or anything you've learned through experience and look at it without bias. And, though this might seem heretical, keep in mind that the new testament itself is not perfect -- it has been written and rewritten for thousands of years. However, at its heart I'm confident you'll see a man and his God who are still reaching out thousands of years later with a message of love for you personally.