As one of the above referenced individuals, and a person who also does my best to follow the teachings of Jesus, I often think about meeting Jesus someday and what He will say to me and those of my ilk. Lately I have been attacked, um, I mean, instructed by several Conservative Christians on how they think Yeshua will greet me. If they are correct in their interpretations of the bible, I guess it will go something like this…
Me: (Awestruck and overcome by the unimaginable love of God – finding no words)
Jesus: Soooo…..the bad news – you’re dead. But the good news is you stand in the presence of God. Now the really bad news – sorry, girlfriend, but I have to send to you hell – you know, gnashing of teeth and hotter than the hot flashes you’d been having.
Me: But why, Lord. I know I screwed up all the time – anger, sarcasm, impatience, gluttony, eating pork – but I did go vegetarian when I knew better, and I have never been divorced.
Jesus: The truth is…. You loved too much. I can’t have that. I know I said “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” But I said other stuff that was more important – you just put waaaay too much emphasis on that new commandment. I mean, let’s start with ‘the gays.’ I was very specific about that. Look at Sodom and Gomorrah – no, wait, that was about inhospitality, male on male gang rape in order to humiliate and degrade, and failing to take care of those who were marginalized. I do remember saying “This was the guilt of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy. They were haughty and did abominable things before me; therefore I removed them when I saw it.” but I know I specifically said somewhere that ‘the gays’ were an abomination. I know I created them in the womb, and being queer was part of that, but I changed my mind after I made them. I kind of decided that two people loving each other of the same gender wasn’t right after all.
So what did you do? Instead of going around chastising those people, telling them in a loving way that I didn’t love them the way they are and would be sending them to the fires of hell, oh, no… you told them they were beautifully made, and that I loved them the way they are. I know, I know, I said that bit about the Pharisees and the letter of the law as opposed to the spirit of the law, and how they blocked people from coming to me, but again, you interpreted that wrong. You even made some of those gay people, my children,who had rejected me because of the ‘loving’ words of others about their abomination, return to me. I mean, how am I supposed to accept them back unless they repent, and publicly renounce the way I created them? At the very least, they could pretend not to be gay, and refrain from ever having a loving, committed relationship. Is that so much to ask of a beloved child?
Me: I guess I didn’t understand… I tried to err on the side of love..
Jesus: And then the damn immigrants. Why didn’t you listen to revered Christian leader Donald Trump? When I said “And if a stranger sojourn with thee in your land, ye shall not vex him. But the stranger that dwelleth with you shall be unto you as one born among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself; for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.” .. that was then, this is now. You may have heard that ‘God.Doesn’t. Change.’ but now there are extenuating circumstances. Governmental laws and popular cultural attitudes about immigrants are important. Those people, er, my children, can come into the US legally after several years of waiting, like everybody else – never mind this crap about fleeing with their famiIies trying to find food and safety. When I talked about immigrants, I meant people like the Irish, Polish, French – white people. Not Mexicans – they are mostly rapists and drug dealers –even the children – and they will suck America (the only country I really love, because, after all, my name is on their money – the love of which is the root of all evil, but I digress) dry while they work 16 hours days in 107 degree heat at jobs that no self-respecting American would do. And I never said that stuff about “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” -that was some poem by some chick named Emma Lazarus that’s on an American statue. Hmmm, Lazarus – that name sounds familiar. Anyway, it’s pretty, but not really relevant anymore. It’s not like American culture is that important. People don’t hold onto old cultural symbols like flags and stuff; it’s probably time for this statue to come down. And don’t get me started on how immigrants bring diseases into a country that has vaccines for them. Nobody should vaccinate their kids – I read an article by a playboy bunny that said that shit causes autism.
Me: I am so sorry… I thought… take care of the sick, and you know, the poor…:
Jesus: Oh, I see your confusion. In regard to the poor, you got confused by “Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was hungry, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee hungry, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these, my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”
It’s a common mistake – that ‘least of my people thing’ gets a lot of my followers. I didn’t mean to enable people by giving them food stamps for food, or welfare checks to buy clothes or subsidies to be able to afford to live in a home. Those people need to pull themselves up by their bootstraps, get a job, kick drugs and alcohol – tough love, people! I didn’t say that people who can afford to eat and have a roof over their head, or Me forbid, rich people, should be taxed to enable these lowlife scroungers, er, my children. After all, I help those who help themselves. Oh, wait, a guy name Algernon Sydney actually said that, but it’s catchy, isn’t it? Donald Trump especially understands I didn’t mean the poor stuff when it comes to taxes and being rich when I said, “But if someone who is supposed to be a Christian has money enough to live well, and sees a brother in need, and won’t help him–how can God’s love be within him ? Little children, let us stop just saying we love people; let us really love them, and show it by our actions. Then we will know for sure, by our actions, that we are on God’s side, and our consciences will be clear, even when we stand before the Lord. And then, Tell those who are rich not to be proud and not to trust in their money, which will soon be gone, but their pride and trust should be in the living God who always richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment. Tell them to use their money to do good. They should be rich in good works and should give happily to those in need, always being ready to share with others whatever God has given them. By doing this they will be storing up real treasure for themselves in heaven–it is the only safe investment for eternity! And they will be living a fruitful Christian life down here as well.”
You know, I’m flexible about the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer thing.
Me: Please show me mercy, I tried to be faithful. I listened when you said, “Dear brothers, what’s the use of saying that you have faith and are Christians if you aren’t proving it by helping others? Will that kind of faith save anyone? If you have a friend who is in need of food and clothing, and you say to him, “Well, good-bye and God bless you; stay warm and eat hearty,” and then don’t give him clothes or food, what good does that do? So you see, it isn’t enough just to have faith. You must also do good to prove that you have it. Faith that doesn’t show itself by good works is no faith at all–it is dead and useless. But someone may well argue, “You say the way to God is by faith alone, plus nothing; well, I say that good works are important too, for without good works you can’t prove whether you have faith or not; but anyone can see that I have faith by the way I act.” Are there still some among you who hold that “only believing” is enough? Believing in one God? Well, remember that the demons believe this too–so strongly that they tremble in terror! Fool! When will you ever learn that “believing” is useless without doing what God wants you to? Faith that does not result in good deeds is not real faith.
Jesus: Oh, that. Yeah. That was nicely said. But real faith is to spend all your free time memorizing every single one of my words so that you can quote them to people to convince them that you know me better than they do. You know, like my children who are too busy actually doing my work to memorize bible passages. Rather than showing my love to others, you can quote it chapter and verse to them. That way, you can save their poor confused souls, like the Pharisees did. Hmmm. Well, anyway, you did try hard, I wish there was something I could do. You did pray a lot.
Me: I tried to do it the way you said, “When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.” I tried to do that, Father, just You and me, not praying in front of everyone, or on social media several times a day.
Jesus: I did tell my disciples that, but I really kind of enjoy all the ‘likes’ that my words get. And it is rather flattering to see people holding up signs outside funerals quoting me. Although, they don’t always spell correctly. Fig is spelled F…I…G, not F…A…G, and of course it was the fig tree that I smited, but again, I digress. I really would like to find a loophole for you, though. What about that magical prayer that has been in vogue for the last few decades – you know, the one someone made up that if you say it, you are saved. Whatever you do after that, you can smugly avow you are saved, and anyone who didn’t say the prayer isn’t saved.
Me: I’m sorry, Father. I love You and have often asked for Your grace and mercy, but I never believed in that magical prayer. I never had the temerity to profess I was ‘saved’ – I felt that knowing you and growing in faith was a process to undertake every day of my life. Only You can decide if I am worthy of Your kingdom. I always kept in mind the parable you told, always knowing I was more tax collector than Pharisee. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed this prayer: ‘I thank you, God, that I am not a sinner like everyone else. For I don’t cheat, I don’t sin, and I don’t commit adultery. I’m certainly not like that tax collector ( insert gay person, immigrant, poor/homeless person, Donald Trump!) I fast twice a week, and I give you a tenth of my income. But the tax collector stood at a distance and dared not even lift his eyes to heaven as he prayed. Instead, he beat his chest in sorrow, saying, ‘O God, be merciful to me, for I am a sinner.’ I tell you, this sinner, not the Pharisee, returned home justified before God. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.
Jesus: Well, I am afraid there is nothing I can do. If I let you in, it wouldn’t be fair to all the Christians who understood and interpreted what I really meant when I said most of the things I said. Bye, now.
(Trap door opens and I drop into the bad place.)
So, like I said, I have tried to envision this meeting many, many times. And while I know that many Christians truly believe that it will play out like the scenario above, I just can’t see it. It isn’t the loving Yeshua that I know and who loves every one of the magnificent children he created. Oh, and I know I will hear from those very Christians, who will lovingly try to save me from my delusions, but that is OK. I will accept that they are doing the best they can within the belief system that they hold. I just don’t think they see God as big enough, loving enough, or merciful enough. I will pray that someday they do.
The bible also said, I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
Jesus has transformed and renewed my mind, and allowed me to discern His will as to what is good, and acceptable, and perfect. So, I envision this reunion with Yeshua:
Me: (Prostate on the floor, sobbing, knowing every one of the thousands, if not millions, of times that I failed the Lord. Knowing I am unworthy to enter His kingdom.)
Jesus: (Softly lifting me, cupping my tear drenched face in His hands). My child, you didn’t love nearly enough, but you always tried to be faithful. Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.
God Bless each of you, just as you were wondrously created and are adored by Yeshua – even those who are radical, queer, gay loving, homeless enabling, immigrant supporting, bleeding heart liberals. Jesus was, and is, all of those things, right down to the bleeding heart. Go in peace, my friends.