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Easter = Love, Grace, Hope. Happy Easter.


I want to clarify something. This is mostly for myself to reflect on my own beliefs, passions, and goals because writing has been the best way for me to sort that out in the past. But, it’s also for friends, family, acquaintances, or anyone else who might think I’ve gone nuts or backslid, or have become a snowflake, or whatever. I’m not a liberal. I’m not a Democrat. I’m not a conservative Republican either. It’s difficult when people can’t be put into a defined category, as we’ve seen time and time again throughout history. And as much as I would like to fit into one of these boxes, or even create a brand new box that fits me and maybe others could see themselves in, I just can’t. I used to call myself a Christian. A republican. An American. Now, each of those words make me cringe. I’ll explain everything. It will make sense. Don’t worry.
I became a Christian at a very, very young age (5 or 6 maybe). The reason that I recited the “sinner’s prayer,” is because I was terrified. I was told by adults, people I loved and trusted, that if I don’t recite these words with my eyes closed and hands folded, I will go to a dark, firey place and burn forever and ever, alone. Now, in hindsight, they told me other things too, like Jesus loves me. But the only thing that truly impacted this small child’s mind, was “burn forever in hell.” So I said this prayer. And I said it again and again, probably a few times a year until adulthood, just to make sure that I didn’t go to hell if I died. Friends, that is not love and that is not grace. That’s fear. And that’s not salvation, it’s supersticion. Now, in technical terms, sure, I’m a “Christian.” And it’s not because I recited these words when I was a child who couldn’t understand the depth of love, grace, or eternity, but it’s because as a mature adult, I’ve studied and read about Jesus Christ. I believe He existed and still exists. I love Him. I look up to Him. I try to emmulate Him. 
The word, “Christian” leaves a horrible taste in my mouth. Many of the Christians I have grown up with and know personally, say and do hateful things to the “least of these” (you know, the homeless, homosexuals, refugees from Middle Eastern countries, people who have illegal status.) Even to a child (Emma Gonzalez), who survived a mass shooting and lost over a dozen of her school mates, and is now a passionate advocate for a solution to gun violence, is called horrendous names. I know, I follow her on social media. They call her a c*** and tell her that she should have been killed in the shooting. Yes, proclaiming Christians do these things. And yes, proclaiming Christians do nothing to stop it. 
They tell me that Jesus is an advocate for guns and murder in cases of self defense. I’ve never read any of this about Jesus. They are more passionate about interpreting the 2nd ammendment to mean keeping a personal arsenol of weapons (why would anyone want to keep a personal arsenol of weapons? Maybe because of fear? Hmm.), than they are passionate about defending the least of these, diminishing violence, advocating for the family and the community, which is where the real difference is made. 
My passion is Jesus and the way He lived. Blessing the children, the peacemakers, helping those on the fringes of society without condition or reprimand. Example… I don’t know if this homeless person on the corner deserves his homelessness due to poor decisions or deserves my kindness because he’s trying to make a change. But I don’t care either. I didn’t deserve God’s grace, but I got it. And by God, this man on the corner will get a bottle of water from me, a granola bar, and whatever change I can scoop up before the traffic light turns green and I continue driving to work. 
There are many injustices in this word. God has planted individual passions within all of us. I know a woman, Lek, whose passion and life’s work is to keep elephants from being horribly beaten and abused by the cruelty of man for material gain. That’s what she does. And I admire and support her. But her life’s passion, is not the same as my life’s passion. My sister, many years ago, read a statistic that said if a woman sees her unborn baby on an ultrasound, she is less likely to go through with an abortion. That statistic stuck with her her entire life and she is an R.N. now, and in the early stages a social outreach program and that may help these women who find themselves in desperate situations. God bless her. My life’s work is music. I just can’t help it. It gave me an opportunity to make a living and reach people on many different levels. I don’t expect my sister to be as passionate about music as I am and I will never be as passionate about saving elephants as Lek. But they’re all important. Thank God that He has varied our passions so greatly. We are the body of Christ and a toe has a purpose, just as the eyes do. Now, just because because my passion is not the same as others’, does not mean that I don’t care about and love them. I will always support a just cause when asked, when needed, when opportunity arises. But God help me if I ever actively inhibit these causes. You will never see me write an post that says “Hey, if your sport is killing docile beasts for their tusks, you do you, man!” I won’t be giving free rides to clinics or actively encouraging anyone to have an abortion (but I’ll support with kindness and compassion when I can). So my question is, why do Christians actively inhibit and protest this movement for less gun violence?! Let me rephrase that…we want less murders with guns, why are you trying to stop that? Okay, I got it. You like guns, you like the 2nd ammendment, fine. But can we try to diminish the amount of murdered children by guns? WHY would you actively inhibit that principle or fight against this? Because they’re afraid the government will come after them and they won’t be able to murder the government with the machine gun they keep in their closet? But Christians do inhibit the principle of less gun violence. With zeal, and hatred, and I don’t understand it.
There is someone, who is very close to me, that I love and respect, who will remain nameless. No, we’ll call them Jo. Jo said to me, in regards to helping refugees find safety in the U.S., “I lock my doors to keep my family safe at night. Why wouldn’t I want my country’s borders to be locked?” Oh Jo. But if someone pounded on your door in the middle of the night and said, “HELP! My family is about to be murdered, my wife and daughter raped, our home has been bombed and we have NOWHERE safe to go!” Jo would be the first person to let them in. Jo would give them food, money, clothes, shelter. Jo, this is what refugees are saying to the United States. HELP US! Why, oh why, Christian, shouldn’t we help? Again, the answer is fear. 
I used to be a Republican. Because that’s what Christians are. And I was a Christian because I was scared of hell. I supported Bush because he seemed to have character and integrity. Brain power? Maybe not so much… But he was nothing like the self-serving, adulterous, narcissist who is in the White House now. No, I am not a Republican. I voted for Hillary, but I am not a Democrat either. I voted for her because she was the one who seemed to do the most for humanity. Social programs help humanity. They help the least of these. The ones on the fringes. The ones that a “good Christian family” would look nothing like or have anything to do with. Those are the ones that Jesus would be walking with, eating with, talking with. 
I used to be a proud American. Correction, I used to say I was a proud American. Until I grew up and reflected again on my childhood. Back to that 7-year old little girl in Awanas who said the pledge of allegiance to the American flag, and then the Christian flag, and then the Bible. And I remember that little girl questioning silently in my own mind, “If Jesus is the most important, why do we pledge to the American flag first?” It’s a question I wish I would have said out loud and demanded an answer to. I think back to that little girl, who lived in timidity and fear. We drove over a railroad track behind a traffic light to get to school every day. When the light turned green, I was aprehensive that the computerized timer had calculated wrong, and we were going to be driving over the railroad track as a train stormed through, and would smash us to bits. I calmed my own fears by thinking, “No, whoever builds these lights and makes these computers, they wouldn’t make a mistake like that, that would kill innocent people on their way to school.” So I’ve always believed that the government should have a responsibility for its citizens. Sometimes I have other recollections of childhood thoughts that went against what I was “supposed” to believe, but I never spoke of them. Because I was scared of not being a good Christian girl. Fear.
I was told that socialism was evil and leads to communism. But a true Democracy would look more like the Wild West, when justice was taken into our own hands and a lot of innocent citizens were killed and there was little or no help for the weaker ones who couldn’t help themselves. The truth is, there should be a balance of all these things. (And there is socialism in the U.S. whether or not you want to hear it).
I was told America was the best, and I believed it. I got chills listening to the Star Spangled Banner, and felt a fire in me while watching movies like “The Patriot, “Pearl Harbor,” or “We Were Soldiers Once.” I mean, geez. We stopped the Nazis. The NAZIS! The group that made Jews wear a yellow star on their coat and then exterminated them. And right after we stopped the Nazis, we put signs on our bathrooms that said “No Colored Allowed.” Only God knows how far that would have went, if it had not been for the tireless, passionate, activists of the Civil Rights Movement. The movement that started with a little old lady on a bus. Much like a little girl today, with a shaved head, who said in front of national cameras, “Not One More!” 
Fear has its place in this world. But courage has a more meaningful place. Courage to give a voice to your individual passion, and support the passions of others if they are righteous (and I think anything that supports human life is righteous). Only fear keeps us from supporting those. Fear of the unknown, the threatened. Self-preservation.
If Jesus was afraid, maybe he would have killed the Roman guard in self-defense. But he didn’t live in fear of the unknown or of death. And as a result, we all have hope. Let’s give others hope. Hope of justice, safety, opportunity, and quality of life. This, to me, is Jesus. How can I possibly reconcile more deadly weapons, shutting out terrified refugees, bullying, or telling that homeless man “Go get a job, you lazy bum!” Jesus gave us grace, FREELY. In fact, we can’t even begin to measure God’s grace in mathematical terms. As my 4-year old son would ask, “More than infinity?” Yes! More than infinity! So let’s not put a cap on the grace that we as…ahem…Christians and Americans, give to fellow humanity, whatever their background or beliefs and whether or not we personally feel they deserve it.
Easter=Love, Grace, Hope
Happy Easter

Matthew 25:34-46
34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’
44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’
46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

Comments

DJan said…
Whew! This was long but worth the read. I am a liberal and a Democrat, have been all my life. But I too am dismayed by the direction my country is going, and I too feel dispossessed. There are many like us, on both sides of the political divide, and I wonder on this Easter Eve what I can do to make things better. I think you have done much to help people think, and maybe just one person will wake up and say "enough!" as those brave young people from Parkland have done. Blessings to you and yours, Elizabeth.
Thank you for reading the whole thing! I really didnt expect anyone to. Lol! Thank you for your perspective and support. Happy Easter!
Elizabeth Grimes
Robin Malherbe said…
Hi Elizabeth.

I used to follow your blog many years ago when I lived in Madagascar, and was pleased to see you had written again.

I think what it comes down to is that many in the Western world, who believe they are Christians and call themselves Christians have absolutely no idea what being a follower of Christ actually means. I think that you hit the nail on the head about grace. Just this week I read a Philip Yancey book called Vanishing Grace, which basically agrees with everything you raised in your blog post. Yes, let's learn to love more, as Jesus would have loved. Let's learn to bathe in His grace and pour that out onto as many people as possible, whether friends or "enemies". I still believe that church was part of God's plan and try as much as possible to be a difference in and through the church too. I do hope that you find a community of believers that can help encourage and sow even more grace into you and others. And I pray for even more opportunities for you to sow Christ's grace into others' lives through all that you do! I really did enjoy the honesty of this post!

It was also wonderful to see photos of your kids, and to read more about what you are doing through "More Than A Song". It seems like a real blessing to many that are often just marginalized and neglected.

I hope to read much more from you here again. Robin

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