Zeal: Pride’s Humble Brother

We took Christ right out of his own house.

I’ve had a lot of time to contemplate things lately. Jesus has been throwing a ton of interesting thoughts and concepts onto my plate. It almost feels like being an indecisive eater stuck in Golden Corral. Luckily, I have a super rad friend, Austin, who has the same craving for truth about Christ as I do. We’re searching for answers because we have a void that can’t be filled by, “That’s how I was raised” or “Well, I heard it in a sermon”.

I’ve been seeing a ton of religious talk lately. About the exclusion of the LGBT community, about Evolution, about the well groomed-bearded-flannel-donning-attractive Christianity, and it’s all incredibly heart-breaking to me. Here’s why:

Christ is in none of it. Christ isn’t the focus at all.

Before I dig any deeper, I want to take a look at Pride and Zeal.

Pride often gets confused with Zeal, only because people try to make Pride look humble and call it Zeal. Zeal is a great thing. It’s much like passion, like motivation, like desire. Pride is like that, only Pride is about the betterment of ourselves whereas I would associate Zeal with such things as Social Justice and compassion.

So, with those things in mind, we can get back to the affore-mentioned religious talk. The LGBT is constantly being ridiculed by Christians, whether in Government, the private sector, or, even more abominable, the Church itself, Evolution is viewed as Satan’s biology project, and our church communities have been not-so-slowly shifting to talking more about coffee and clothing than Christ and Cross.

My heart breaks every single time I look at social media. I read an article just the other day about a Christian campus group that is pushing for a law that would allow them to keep the LGBT out of their groups, and not just a campus only thing but a national thing. I saw that groups at Duke were trying to get benefactors to withhold funding because a Muslim group was praying during their meetings on campus. I’ve had many friends claim that anyone who would believe in the myth of Evolution are deluded and unintelligent. I’ve been to so many churches lately that talk more about their favorite coffee shops than the reason for even having Church in the first place.

It makes me cringe.

Why?

Because we’re focused on ourselves. (I say we because I am included. In no way, shape, or form will I ever write something that’s critical and not include myself. Mostly, because I really suck as a human too.)

We took Christ right out of his own house. “Here’s your eviction notice Mr. Christ, could you take your Grace and Mercy with you? We don’t need that anymore.”

Just to be clear, I’m not saying that if you wear flannel and love coffee that you don’t love Jesus, I love flannel and coffee shops. I’m not saying that if you aren’t for Evolution that you’re unintelligent, I don’t agree with Evolution, but I can’t say I know exactly how and what God used/did to create. I’m not saying that if you’re a little unsettled by the LGBT community that you hate them, I personally love the gay community and admire their ability to support their peers through Hell and high water.

What I am saying is this:

We need more Grace.
I need more Grace.

We get so caught up in discussing airy topics, in discriminating, in trying to find fatal flaws, in explaining things away, in being right.

I was a part of several really awesome communities, life happened, and then I left those communities. Once I was on the outside, I started seeing flaws in those communities. It soon became my goal to rip those things apart. I was consumed with Pride, that my way of doing things was 100% correct and theirs was not, and we couldn’t let that happen because my way was Jesus’ way and theirs wasn’t. But the simple truth of the matter is that I was wrong. I was merely hurt because this community full of people that I love didn’t bother to try and see my side, they didn’t see the merit in the way I went about things. The same was true for me. I didn’t see anything from their perspective either. Jesus let me know that. He let me know that my Pride had become bigger than him.

I started to evaluate why this had happened. I found out that a lot of my friends were only friends within certain buildings. That my role as a church leader wasn’t as important because I was young. That even after countless years of pouring my heart and soul into several ministries, trying to ensure that Christ would remain the center, that he would call me out of it and I would watch one die and another change completely.

I’m still hurt by it. But I’m hurt even more because I didn’t have the Grace to try and see those people’s perspectives. If I had Zeal, I would have made an attempt to stay a part of those people’s lives. There’s people whom I love very deeply that I don’t even speak to because I’m too wrapped up in my pain and could care less about their perspectives.

That’s the incredibly sad, brutal truth.

So how do we get back to what Christ wants?

How do we be intentional with those who’ve wronged us? How do we forgive ourselves for doing the wronging? How do we try to see others complexly? How do we try and put ourselves in their situation and feel their pain alongside them?

I don’t have the answer. It’s different for every person. Christ is obviously a common denominator, and a huge part of the answer, but I can’t lay out details. I get it wrong all the time.

Austin and myself have had several talks about Grace and Love lately. About how we’re focused on so many different things that don’t matter. It opened my eyes to see that I was focused on me. I didn’t have any Zeal in me, only Pride. Hopefully, Christ will grant me some Zeal, so my heart isn’t just a calloused mass anymore and I can start loving people again.