I read an article this morning on NPR about the way our brain processes words. The theory used to be we had a special place in the brain for processing language. Like a word module. Recent research (outlined in the article) suggests processing language is a full brain experience. Especially language involving metaphors. The thing is, to make meaning of words; it takes many different parts of our brain. Mainly to visualize our experiences with those words. Pretty cool, huh?
“My deepest awareness of myself is that I am deeply loved by Jesus Christ and I have done nothing to earn it or deserve it.” – Brennan Manning (but every single person could say this)
I had a great two-hour long phone conversation with a good friend this week. It was a conversation where have of the participants were slap-happy exhausted and the other half was on (legal, I think) drugs. Between the long awkward pauses where we both were trying to form thoughts, there was a lot of good topics covered.
One of those topics was self-defeatism in the Western Christian church. If you have spent any time at all in a church in America, someone of authority has probably told you you are nothing or at least less than stellar without Jesus. I want to tell you right now, they are absolutely wrong. Before I piss off a bunch of people, let me reiterate my faith in Jesus and the Christian God. I love Jesus. I do. I think His radical Love is life changing. I think His radical teachings of putting others ahead of you and being a servant are perfect. I love the way He reaches out to the marginalized. But…
To say someone is nothing without Jesus is ignorant (in my opinion). Do you know how many people I know who are loving, caring and passionate people but do not “know” Jesus or “love the Lord?” Countless. So, let me take this moment to let all of you reading this, I love you. So does Jesus. And you are unique, special, lovely, beautiful – all of those adjectives. And that is how my God sees you. Not as nothing. Not as lame. You get the point.
And if you do identify as a Christian, guess what? He doesn’t love you anymore (or less) than your atheist neighbor. Or your gay neighbor. Or the prostitute working the streets downtown. And so, if you have been in an organized religious situation and someone has told you you are nothing without Jesus, I want you to know My Jesus doesn’t see it that way. And remember, as a wise author once said,
“Real freedom is freedom from the opinion of others.” – Brennan Manning
What they say about who you are as a person is an opinion. How do they know you are nothing without Jesus? They don’t.
Enjoy your weekends. In the words of my man, Bob Goff, “Love others and do stuff.”
*Editor’s note: I realized while writing this my posts are feeling less self-reflective and more opinionated. One of my flaws is I can get cynical towards organized religion. Cynicism usually doesn’t help. Or benefit anyone. In the next few posts, I will be working on this. Hopefully the point is communicated well that I love you and think you are awesome and so does my Jesus.