I won’t argue with them.
I’ve been a local church pastor for more than two decades. Over recent years, as I started to ask more questions and as my faith grew more and more progressive, I experienced a massive personal exodus.
I lost hundreds, perhaps thousands of former church friends and co-ministers who disconnected, went silent, or actively ridiculed me for “falling away from the faith.”
A former pastor publicly disparaged me for losing my way. Longtime Christian friends ghosted me, avoiding eye contact at stores and at funerals for mutual friends. I now get the cold shoulder on social media from people I used to live and work alongside, trying to teach me a lesson about my heresy by their silence.
Since then I’ve watched many of these same people move lock-step with this completely immoral President, and betray nearly everything about the life and ministry of Jesus—like Peter repeatedly denying Jesus in the garden.
They have gone all-in with Muslim bans and Ice raids and bathroom bills and healthcare repeals.
They have loudly contested the mattering of black lives, while having claimed to desire a “diverse church.”
They’ve preached about “God so loving the world,” and yet passionately declared “America First.”
They have defended comments about “shithole countries,” where we served together on life-altering short-term mission trips.
It has been a sickening marvel to witness the hypocrisy of men and women for whom I was no longer “Christian enough” because I welcomed LGBTQ people or questioned the existence of Hell or the inerrancy of Scripture—suddenly justify sexual predators, excuse pussy-grabbing bravado, applaud the building of walls, and celebrate the silencing of black athletes.
The same Christians who shunned me for reminding them that Jesus wasn’t white, American, or Christian—essentially became vocal activists solely for white American Christians.
But this week has been uniquely and tragically illuminating.
This week, I saw many of the professed Christians for whom my progressive faith expression was problematic, witness the horrors unfolding at our border and say absolutely nothing. They have been silent and still while hell has broken loose—and I’ve noticed.
As has happened so many times over the past two years, I’m reminded of Jesus’ words that whatever we do to the “least of these” (those disregarded and vulnerable and helpless), we do to him. I look at the people who severed ties with me and I realize how glad I am to be where I am and not where they are.
I realize that whatever the personal cost of my perceived heresy has been in relationship disconnection, it’s been worth it because it’s given me an empathy that for whatever reason now eludes them. It has given me a clear voice where they now have moral laryngitis. Their rejection has pushed me to a more expansive space, to a much larger table. Moving away from their religion, I think I’ve found closer proximity to Jesus.
As much as I’ve grieved the loss of these people and been wounded by their condemnation and judgment, I’m grateful that I am in a different place in my spiritual journey.
I’ll take my divergence from the “right path” and deep compassion for hurting people—over orthodoxy and a hardened heart.
I’ll gladly take my place outside of their approval, and alongside children being brutalized and the weary seeking refuge.
I’ll gratefully accept their sentence of damnation in the afterlife, if it means I live this life giving a damn about people who are hurting.
I’ll take my place here with the rest of the heretics, apostates, backsliders, and sinners—and with a Jesus they no longer recognize as in their midst.
I once was blind, now I see."
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