When I was a Christian, I remember enduring multiple sermons that would challenge us to live our lives for Jesus as hard as we could. Even then, it was hard to understand what else Jesus could’ve wanted from our lives. We already went to a Christian college, tried not to be unequally yoked with unbelievers, and went to church every Saturday. We adhered to certain dietary restrictions, did community service, prayed before every class, and had worships throughout the week, too. What else could He have possibly wanted?
You’re not Jesus-ing hard enough.
In attempting to encourage us in the paths of righteousness, the (possibly inadvertent) message that we got sounded more like “You’re not Jesus-ing hard enough.” Phrases like “being in the world, not of the world”, being “a peculiar people”, or being more “radical like Jesus” were commonplace. The stakes were high, and souls were being lost while I ate my lunch, and I should’ve ministered to that person over there earlier, instead of ignoring the counsel of the Holy Spirit. They just might be lost because I was the only person that could’ve reached them.
Along with not Jesus-ing hard enough, there was a certain sense of shame or embarrassment for…well, just for being human. Masturbating, going shopping on Saturday, even watching a violent movie. Everything was interpreted as a calculated attempt from a cunning enemy to deceive you, put the blinders on you, and lead you away from Christ.
- If you enjoyed having sex with your girlfriend and weren’t really thinking about Christ, that was something you needed to do away with, even to the point of breaking up with her.
- If you didn’t want to go to church, you kinda felt bad, because, “Hey, that guy got crucified for me, the least I could do is sleep in my suit ’till potluck.”
- Anything from Harry Potter and unclean food or drink (including bacon, alcohol, and sometimes spicy mustard), the theory of evolution (if it was true, they’d call it “The Law of Evolution), and even being gay (or “acting on it”), were simply stumbling blocks in the way of giving Jesus your full attention (as well as your entire fucking soul.)
- Jesus demands all of you. You cannot half-ass Jesus.
What I think that Christianity skips right over is that this “all or nothing” mentality is insane when anyone else does it. When a cult leader says “no one else is telling you the truth”, it’s manipulative. When super conservative parents attempt to “guide” their child’s every action, it’s controlling. When a boyfriend says that he’s supposed to be “everything you need or you don’t really love him”, it’s abusive.
So why does Jesus get to do it?
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