I am a Christian and I do not believe it is right to judge others. Throughout most of human history, the world has been a battlefield. Religion plays a big part in motivating people to take arms against another, killing each other in the “name of God”. These wars led to countless deaths and human suffering- children orphaned, women widowed, and homes and countries destroyed. After all the anguish religion has caused, I wonder if this is really what God wanted. In my walk with God, I have come to believe otherwise.
The Christ I Know
I was born into a devout Christian family. Since a very young age, I was raised to be God-fearing. I was an obedient child. I would go with my parents to Church every Sunday. I involved myself in the children’s choir of our church; and we would sing hymns in front of the congregation as worship to God. I joined church camps and tried to live a holy life as I was told. I was baptized when I was 15, and accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior.
Then I became an adolescent. I was a victim of peer pressure. I began to doubt God. At this point in my life, I began to see what the world has to offer and I was seduced. I began to give in to a hedonistic lifestyle: I began drinking and smoking. I did drugs. I did not go to church anymore. I started living a life of sin and began fornicating with the pleasures of the world. Of course my conservative Christian family was aghast. But I did not care. I enjoyed myself. Pleasures of the flesh are indeed very pleasurable.
After about 5 years of living this life of pleasure-seeking, I was hit by tragedy. I was betrayed by people whom I trusted. I did not know what to do, or who I should run to. My pride “forbade” me to pray. So instead of looking up, I started to act out my hate. Looking back, this was the worst decision I have made. I pushed myself to despair. I was living in a downward spiral. Everything was disgusting. I thought to myself: Love is a lie; I can only trust myself, F*** you. I learned that pleasures did not bring me Joy.
One day, I thought of ending it all. I was alone in my room. I was crying because of the deep, lancinating pain of my heart. I call it God’s grace when at that moment, I started to pray. All I said was: “God are you there?”. I do not know why, so I will call it grace as well, but I looked for my Bible and opened it. You see, before all this, I was a hardcore church goer, so my Bible is filled with highlighted verses, complete with notes about scripture. When I opened my Bible, I was drawn to one verse in particular:
“This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” (1 John 4:10)
It felt like heaven opened up and poured mercy and love over me. I broke into tears and started praying out of remorse. I thought to myself: “What have I done?” I started to pour my anger and grief out to God in prayer. That day changed my life. I started praying again. I did not go to church, I just prayed. I was a prayerful non-church goer for a year.
I was steadily allowing myself to be fixed. Then after a little over a year, I went back to church. I was a changed man. This time of my life made me understand the Love of God and the Peace of Christ. This experience made me understand that worship is not in singing the hymns or going to church.
God looks at the heart.
Worship is having a contrite heart before the Lord. It is knowing God, His love, His mercy and His forgiveness; and living a life of gratitude for all that He has done. It is an outpouring of love and thanksgiving from my heart and soul to the Lord who is always good.
Christianity is indeed exclusive. We believe there is a heaven and a hell; there will come a day that people will be judged by God. Some people think this is a doctrine that discriminates and condemns non-Christians. But I think about it this way: Christians believe in God as the one true God, and that the Bible is His inerrant word. This belief is a statement of faith. What the Bible says is God-breathed, it is the very Word of God. And God is the ultimate truth. And Jesus said in the Bible: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.“(John 14:6)
Now for Christians, those who are not in Christ are not yet in the truth. As I said, it is very exclusive. However this doesn’t mean that those who are not in Christ are incapable of doing good. Just read the Parable of the Good Samaritan. We become each other’s neighbor for as long as we show compassion.
For Christians, we have been tasked by Christ to spread His truth and His love all over the world. There will be people who will not receive Christ and there will be those who will. Exclusivity is GOD valuing free will. God, respecting the will of His created, gave man the freedom to choose to follow Him or not.
Christianity as a faith is exclusive, and I also believe that our compassion and love for mankind should be all-inclusive and not borne out of self-righteousness and hypocrisy. In Christianity, I remind myself that we are all sinners before the Lord; that there is no one righteous (see Roman’s Road). I believe in the Jesus who healed the gentile sick, and reached out to the nobodies, the lepers, the outcasts, the prostitutes, and thieves. I believe in the Christ who said:
“Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” (John 8:7)
As a Christian, I believe in a final judgment. But I am not the Judge, God is. I will not act as if I am. Instead, I choose to follow Christ’s example.
The Nonviolent Christ and A Love that Endures
Jesus is the image of reconciliation, non-violence, forgiveness and peace. He preached love and peace wherever he went. He taught us the love of God. He came in love to give love and He came in peace to give peace. I have come to view the cross, the symbol of reconciliation, this way: The vertical line symbolizes the reconciliation of man and God, and the horizontal line is God’s intention that we reconcile with each other. This reminds me of Jesus’ commandment: to love God and love each other.
Above, I said that I did not go to church for over a year and just prayed. Looking back, the reason I did not go to church was because of fear, fear of being judged by other Christians. You see, I know what it feels like to be judged by others. It hurts. Didn’t the Bible say: “Do not judge, or you too will be judged?” (Matt 7:1)
I am a sinner, forgiven by grace. I have experienced the mercy of God first hand, and I have seen how He loves me just as I am. And so instead I will show my Christianity through compassion. God is love and Jesus personified Love. Throughout Jesus’ ministry, He never shunned anyone who came to Him. As a Christian, I believe that the way to peace is the way to love. As a Christian, nothing can separate me from the Love of God.
God pours out His love to His people, and from the spring that flows out of His heart, we have access to an endless supply of compassion for everyone. This way, Love endures and never runs out.
God is Love. The way of God is the way of Love.
(Please also see: “8 Tips to Making Peace a Habit“)