I’ve been trying to use Facebook more in 2021 in an attempt to ‘feel more adult.’
What I’ve seen, however, is a complete brainwashing machine. People post and repost some of the most outlandish material. (If you’re already offended, just keep reading.)
I recently came across a post from someone I have not spoken to in years (whether keeping up with people from elementary school is a pro or con of social media, I still cannot decide). They had reposted a tweet by Georgia senator Raphael Warnock regarding Easter.
The tweet read as follows:
“The meaning of Easter is more transcendent than the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Whether you are a Christian or not, through a commitment to helping others we are able to save ourselves.”
The caption by the user that reposted read, “This is not ok.” The comments were filled with outraged Christians, bashing Warnock and bashing Georgia for voting Warnock in. Someone even called on Warnock to drop his title of ‘Reverend.’
When I first read the tweet, I completely understood and resonated with Warnock’s point. I also understood, that similar to those annoying political commercials (that I think all Georgians had memorized to a tee after weeks of replay during the run-off elections), that the people reposting and commenting on this tweet had the message totally skewed.
Here’s the thing, I get it. I grew up Christian. A very conservative Christian, at that. It was drilled into my head (by church, youth groups, various camps and devotionals) that Jesus was the way and the only way to the Father.
We get this belief from the following Bible verse (John 14:6):
In their interpretations of this verse, many Christians believe that only Christians will be allowed into Heaven. Christians that are devoted to Christ, not living a life in sin (hence why some choose to believe that gay people are going to Hell – being a homosexual has been interpreted by other verses to be a sin, therefore by living a life of sin, you are not adhering to Christ – the only way into Heaven).
In my conservative days, my heart would ache when I saw that people only attended church on Easters. I’d become upset when people seemed to neglect the “true meaning” of Christmas. I thought that being gay was wrong. I thought partying was wrong. I thought sex was wrong. I thought anything that the Bible, written by human beings over three thousand years ago from a completely different society (one where slavery and the degredation of women was seemingly not wrong), said was wrong must be wrong.
To my fellow Christians stuck in this headspace as I once was, open your damn eyes. Open your minds. For our God’s sake, open your hearts.
As I’ve grown and seen more of the world, and I do recognize that I am extremely privileged to have met so many people from completely different backgrounds and upbringings than my own, I have come to understand what Christianity really means to me.
What it is not is living a life in shame and guilt for enjoying the things that come completely naturally to me and every other human being. It is not feeling angry or despaired that others might have a different set of beliefs than me, nor is it believing that because they don’t agree with what I think, they must be going to burn in Hell after this life. It is not believing that there is an old man in the sky who is angry or who somehow only has the capacity to love certain people that have chosen to first love Him.
I still consider myself a Christian, but the messages that I stick by are those of service and love. When I first read Warnock’s tweet, I smiled. I smiled because I thought about the crazy Easter Sunday I had. I’d been in a rush to get back to Los Angeles after a camping trip to Joshua Tree to watch a livestream of church in my apartment, surrounded by friends.
The Universe (a term I often like to use in place of my personal evolved understanding of ‘God’) had different plans for me that day.
A popped tire prevented me from getting back to Los Angeles until much later than intended. However, after what I had seen, I knew God was teaching me a lesson of his love through the people that had helped me that day.
First, my boyfriend and I were able to catch a ride from some other USC students also staying in the camping site back to where we had left my car. They offered their spare tire, although it ended up not fitting correctly, and waited around until they knew we were okay, even though that meant they wouldn’t get back to LA until an hour or so later than they had planned.
Then, a man with a truck dedicated an immense amount of physical energy to taking our tire off. Three random men on electric bikes also stopped by to join in on the effort. They had no reason to help us, but they still did. One of the bikers even offered to guide us back towards the road. They ended up having to put the busted tire back on, since the other one the USC girls offered wasn’t the right match for my car. A very frustrating task, but they didn’t get angry. They showed us compassion.
We had to drive my poor car out to the road in order to get towed. The driver of the tow truck was not supposed to take on extra passengers due to COVID-19 restrictions, yet he made room (this remind you readers of any other story, perhaps regarding extra room and an inn?). He had to drive us to two locations, because the first one was unable to provide us the proper service. As I sat in the back of that tow truck, I thought about how all of these people, through dedication, had seriously saved me. Without them, I’d probably still be stranded in the desert. I was stressed for a quick few seconds about missing church, before realizing God was teaching me a lesson about Jesus and love regardless that day. The vision of a full on seminar came to my brain. One I thought would go to waste until I came across a certain Facebook post.
I’m not just here to stir the pot. Yes, I felt incredibly moved to comment on the repost of Warnock’s tweet, because it had really resonated with me in a positive way, and I couldn’t believe that people were so disturbed by his words, which I had quite literally just lived out a few days before. I drafted this article a few times, then deleted, feeling that nothing I typed up would get the message across properly. I do want to make clear that I’m not necessarily here to tell these Christian fanatics off and that their beliefs are too outdated to efficiently live by.
I’m here to say I understand, but I also think it’s important to remember the biggest lesson Jesus taught us.
To conclude, I want to point out a Bible verse I think should get more attention than the ones that are utilized and interpreted to point fingers and make others feel shame or guilt.
That Bible verse is 1 John 4:9, and it reads:
“Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.”
Jesus is an integral part of the Christian faith because he led by example. He lived a life full of pure, unconditional love. I believe that he died so that we may understand how deep that love is, and that we may know true love overpowers even the most ultimate of sacrifices. I do not believe that he died so that we must be constantly anxious over sin, or feel the need to chastise others.
This is what works for me, and Warnock acknowledged that in his tweet. Georgia voted him in because he acknowledges (and is an example) that it is okay to think differently. Christians, loving others is not so wrong. I think Jesus would definitely appreciate that we turn to love before we turn to anger.