I spent most of my early life terrified of Jesus. Our church taught about hell much more than it taught about grace and mercy. We seemed to learn much more about the Book of Revelation and getting left behind by God than we learned about the Gospels and the message of Jesus. To make a long story short, I don’t want to have much to do with the traditional Jesus of my youth. I am still afraid of that Jesus. After a few of these stories, you will understand why.
The stories are endless.
I can remember our church consistently pressuring people to walk down the aisle and give their lives to Christ. I did. The sermon asked, “Where do you stand in relation to Jesus?” I knew I wanted to be on Team Jesus so I ran down the aisle. The problem was that after I went down the aisle, our church consistently told stories about people who went down the aisle and didn’t really mean it. I was constantly afraid that I wasn’t a real Christian. I prayed and prayed and prayed. I asked Jesus into my heart thousands of times. I never had any certainty, only fear.
In middle school, our church got into studying the Book of Revelation. All everyone could talk about was getting left behind after the rapture of God’s people and having to endure the end of the world if you were not a Christian. We would go to this haunted trail called “The Tribulation Trail.” The goal of this event was to scare the shit out of you and make you become a Christian. For me, it worked. I was terrified for years that I wasn’t really a Christian and would get left behind to be destroyed at the end of the world. I couldn’t be alone because I thought the end of the world was happening and everyone I loved had gone to heaven and left me here. I would get my little brother to sleep with me all the time. I asked for help and people replied that I probably wasn’t really a Christian. This made things worse. For years, I lived in fear and constantly asked Jesus to come into my heart.
I spent most of my early years trying to believe the answers I was given and being terrified by their consequences.
Later, in college, I found a theology that fit my desire for answers and my vices quite nicely. The system is called Calvinism or Reformed Theology. The theology posits that God has chosen people for heaven and hell before they are ever born. This theology also speaks to wealth and privilege. If you have wealth and privilege then you were chosen by God to have it. This sounded pretty good. There were many answers, but not a tremendous amount of questions. The fear arose here when I realized the heinous consequences of the theology. I also figured out that the Dutch Reformed Church in South Africa used this theology to justify the perpetuation of apartheid. It wasn’t long before I realized that I was a part of a heinous system.
I spent most of my college years trying to believe the answers I was given and being terrified by their consequences.
When I was in seminary and still very conservative, I got a call that one of my closest mentors was dying. I spent the last few weeks of his life learning from him. At the end, he called me into his room and spoke, “I am gay and always have been. Go back to seminary and fight for those who have no voice.” I spent the next few years seeking God and becoming more and more progressive, until finally God called me to be an advocate and activist for Queer folk. My mentor opened his heart and started the change.
Do you believe in miracles? You are looking at one.
In Matthew 14, there is a big teaching taking place. Queer Jesus is teaching thousands of people the meaning of life and love. Ultimately, the disciples ask Jesus to send the crowds away so they can go and buy some food. Often in this life instead of helping people, we send them away and tell them to buy their own way. Queer Jesus told the disciples that they don’t need to go away, we can give them something to eat. Queer Jesus believed in the queer and was teaching the disciples to believe in the queer. We only have five loaves of bread and two fish. Queer Jesus blessed the loaves and fish and started passing it out. The people were hungry. Everybody ate, about five thousand, and then some off of five loaves of bread and two fish. How? The miraculous took place. The people were hungry and Queer Jesus opened the diving heart and fed them.
Do you believe in miracles? The people are hungry.
Had my mentor not opened his heart, I wouldn’t have experienced the miraculous.
Do you believe in miracles? The people are hungry.
Answers will not get you over your fear of Jesus. I only overcame my fear when my mentor gave me his heart. I believe, because he believed.
Will we believe? Will we believe that love is bigger than hate? Will we believe that we can feed the world off of our little breads and fishes? Will we believe that we too are vessels connected to God capable of the miraculous?
They need you heart not your answers.
If you want to be like the traditional spaces then keep giving answers and the fear will continue for everyone.
But, if you want to be queer, just like Queer Jesus, then queer the world by giving your heart away.
Love is the solution to fear…embrace the love of Queer Jesus and be the change you want to see.
When we open our hearts and give them away, we leave fear behind.