Falling for Jesus but Struggling with Christians
I remember falling in love with Jesus my junior year of high school. God received me, embraced me, didn’t ask questions. God loved me.
And then I started getting to know Christians.
While Hye longed for community, it was connected to a set of beliefs that were hard to believe. Writing about the End Time teachings of Mike Bickle, Hye continues:
But there was this one moment. I looked around the room. Nobody had their eyes open. They were concentrating on Bickle, trying to soak up every word. It dawned on me that they really believed the end times were approaching, that the day was near. I didn’t know if I believed that.
I felt bad.
Bickle talked about riots, literal battles between the righteous and unrighteous. It didn’t remind me of Jesus.
A Blast from the Pulpit of my Past
This brought me back to Times Square Church in NYC with Pastor David Wilkerson thundering on about the End Times (his vision always included gangs of homosexuals going all Sodom on everyone.)
Weird how these End Times teachings come in and out of fashion in some American Christian Churches. But then apocalypse is a popular and stirring message for lots of groups, not just religious.
In response to Hye’s post I wrote:
Hye, I can relate to your experience. My own conversion and then emersion into Evangelical/Pentecostal community sounds similar to your own. What complicated it for me was the lack of trust I had in myself to find the right way forward.
One of the earliest lessons my pastor taught me was, “the heart is deceitful above all things. Who can know it?” He and others after him taught me that I must not look inward. I must not trust myself. I will always lead myself astray because of the three-pronged influence of “the flesh, the devil, and the world.”
These teachings actually led me away from Jesus and the simple yet profound personal connection I made in my room alone in prayer when I was a teen. It took years to find my way back. The path is littered with theological debris that sometimes block the way.
End Times are Trending
Something else stands out for me in your piece above. The Evangelical depiction of the End Times sounds eerily similar to some of the warnings environmentalists tell us about in regards to climate change–civil unrest, a breakdown of law and order, drought, flood–dreadful days that are coming.
The fear of End Times–be it by Evangelicals or environmentalists–are designed to stir up action and deepen commitment to the cause. The trouble is that fear is only a helpful short term motivator. One cannot live and thrive in a constant state of terror. In fact, some recent studies demonstrate that when someone is exposed to a fear inspiring climate message, they tend to actually move away from the issue. I see this working with the fear-driven Evangelical message.
So, what does a message of love look like in regards to the future? Is such a message more effective in keeping people engaged and in community? I know it does for me.
Check out Hye Sung’s piece, Waiting for Us to Notice on Meetinghouse.xyz.