Openly, I admit that it can be intimating to walk in transparency. To risk being judged, criticized, or condemned. What I didn't expect was to be faith-shamed by other Christians. To have my own words twisted in such a fashion that others misinterpret them, misunderstand me, or verbally attack my faith as being less than what it actually is.
Recently, I shared a difficult situation on social media. It was a lifelong struggle that I've had being raised without my dad. Briefly, I exposed some hurting areas that were like peeling a bandage off an old wound. So I bare my heart and soul trusting that someone else may be experiencing a similar issue with their mom, dad, or a family member.
I shared a genuinely painful piece of myself. Not for those to feel sorry for me. Not for sympathy. I did it because I want to be real. To have meaningful discussions with others who relate to me or the topic. Or both.
I sincerely enjoy connecting with others on social media. To chat online about important subjects that can change us, transform us, and grow our faith. Also, when I step out to be transparent, I believe it helps others not be so afraid to share a little bit about themselves, too. It breaks the ice so we can all come to realize that we are not alone. As brothers and sisters in Christ, we are in this together like one big family.
As I review the message that I had written, I have no idea how or why it can be misinterpreted into something that it is not. I cannot conceive the reason behind another Christian taking my real struggles and turning it against me. That some how my challenges with my earthly dad get twisted into another Christian claiming that I have a "spirit of rejection."
Let me get this straight. After candidly sharing that for 50+ years I've tried with all my might to heal my relationship with my dad and that I don't think restoration will happen on this side of heaven, suddenly I'm told that I need "delivered?"
To be absolutely blunt, I'm over being shamed by other Christians. To vulnerably be open about my life and then have fellow believers slam me with flippant comments that belittle me, hurt me, and publicly humiliate me.
I've come to see it's not just happening to me. I see it often on Facebook. Christians fighting with other Christians. Usually, it starts with someone posting something about their faith or their life or even a minor, innocent topic. Then another believer blames them for not being a "good enough" Christian. They ridicule them. Condemn them. On occasion, they blast them with scriptures as if they were beating the Bible over this other person's head to make a point.
And the point is...
The one Christian believes they are more knowledgeable, more Christlike, more filled with the Holy Spirit. They look down upon other Christians. They frown upon anything that does not live up to perfection. Or that doesn't replicate their own selves. They play "God" in effort to show people their sin, flaws, and weaknesses. Or they wrongfully judge someone and make false accusations.
This holier-than-thou approach is nothing more than a smug, self-righteous attitude. Pure hypocrisy. It's a complete turn off to non-Christians and gives Christianity a bad name. Quiet frankly, it nauseates me because this is not an example of who Jesus is.
When we take a close look at Jesus we discover that He hung out with the drunks, tax collectors, prostitutes, and sinners. He accepted and loved everyone. Despite people's imperfections, He treated them with compassion and grace. He didn't point the finger at the adulterous, condemn the sinner, or humiliate those who were simply being real.
Yet there's Christians who feel the need to bring others down as they puff themselves up. This faith-shaming is demeaning and disrespectful to other Christians. It causes division inside and outside the church. It clearly reveals that at the root of faith-shaming is legalism.
From ancient days, Christians have fallen into the evil trap of legalism where they set a system of man-made regulations for achieving salvation and spiritual growth. People who are legalistic believe in and demand a strict adherence to these rules. For those who don't adhere to these precepts are considered outcasts. Legalism turns away ordinary folks from all walks of life who may desire to know God on a deeper level, yet they feel ashamed and unworthy of His love and grace.
Author, speaker, and pastor, Mike Yaconelli, addresses this topic in his book, Messy Spirituality, by saying, "Accepting the reality of our broken, flawed lives is the beginning of spirituality not because the spiritual life will remove our flaws but because we let go of seeking perfection and, instead, seek God, the one who is present in the tangledness of our lives."
At the core of spirituality is a relationship with Jesus Christ. When we focus on drawing close to our heavenly Maker, there is no shame, no blame, and no bashing other Christians. When we are intimately connected with the Lord, there's a peace unlike any other on earth. We don't need to compete for His attention with others because He accepts and loves each one of us unconditionally.
Although I may never understand why some Christians feel the need to faith-shame other Christians, today I pray that God will give me the courage to speak the truth in love and to make peace. If you have experienced faith-shaming, did you defend your faith? How did you respond when another Christian hurt you, offended you, or humiliated you?