How can I, on behalf of fellow believers (and pastors), thank you? How can I thank you for not pretending to be who you are around us? How can I thank you for not being afraid to share those moments with us. You know, those moments you call un-christian, but I call, still learning and living and figuring things out.
I’m not sure how to thank you, but I do.
I thank you for not whispering when I walk by because you partied a little too hard last night and don’t think I would approve. I don’t believe in Jesus to condemn or judge you. I believe in Jesus so I can walk beside you and love you.
Thank you for not changing your language when I walk in the room because, although I appreciate the thought, I’ve heard plenty of cuss words before. I don’t choose to speak like that, but I won’t unfriend you because you do.
Thank you for sharing your disbelief and doubt without degrading my belief and faith. Thank you for sharing that moment you smoked weed or that moment you were arrested. Thank you for sharing those imperfect pieces of you without saying I wouldn’t understand. And thank you for letting me pray over you without thinking I’ve completely lost my mind.
Thank you for not leaving when I sit down because you know faith is going to end up in the conversation. Thank you for not rolling your eyes when my advice is rooted in scripture. Thank you for respecting my faith and my job and the mission I have been called to. Thank you for treating me as a person and not some whack job who needs pshycological help (although, I wouldn’t argue, I have my moments).
Yes, followers of Jesus want to live like him. Jesus who was all about edifying and speaking life into people. Jesus lived kind and chose his words carefully. But Jesus was real about it. He didn’t separate himself from those around him because his lifestyle was different. Although he was the Savior, he didn’t wave that title in the air to make those around him feel like terrible people. No, from tax collectors to prostitutes, Jesus walked with them. Teaching and loving and leading. And lives were transformed and relationships were grounded in something deeper than mistakes or differences.
So thank you for walking with us.
As a follower of Jesus, my heart is not to wave a christian flag to make you feel like any lesser of a person. I want to learn and teach and love and lead. And above all, I want to share this Jesus I have come to know and love, but I want to be real with you about it. And I want you, believer or not, to be real with me too. So you had a margarita the other night and you gamble the heck out of those scratch tickets. I drink waaaaay too much coffee and I cross my fingers when my favorite team is playing.
Yes, I realize it’s not the same. But that’s the point.
None of us are the same. Believer or not. We all have our quirks and failings and we all have our addictions and moments we regret.
Now, there are some who will read this and think I condone what you call un-christian, I’m not saying that nor is that even the point of this piece. What I’m saying is, we live in a world where we allow differences to separate too much. Jesus said, “Be in the world, not of it.” And that is why I thank you. I thank you for allowing me (us) into your world. I thank you for not separating me (us) from you, leaving you to feel as though you have to be perfect and pretend.
Real talk, the word perfect should never be in the same sentence as me. My title at the church even ends in Pastor and I am still learning and living and figuring things out. I mess up. And honestly, there are moments when you are probably more a follower of Jesus than I am! Even Jesus followers get hurt. We get angry. We have our un-christian moments (trust me). But I believe Jesus walks alongside even when 0ur lifestyles don’t line up with his. And he is always teaching and loving and leading, believer or not.
So to those of who don’t treat followers of Jesus as if they have the plague, thank you. Thank you for not running away when we walk in. Thank you for being real and honest. Those are two qualities you share with Jesus. And in my book, that’s pretty rich.