During my spring break in 2019, I devoted part of the week to a road trip with my dad. Unlike the rest of my family, I had never been to Washington, D.C., so I begged for someone to tag along on the trip with me. My mom passed on the opportunity after having been twice already, my brother was not interested in museums, so it fell on my dad to make the journey with me (not that he complained about spending time with his favorite “only” daughter).
Visiting the Smithsonian museums were cool, and we made some great memories. We both even walked the entire length of the National Mall to see all the monuments and memorials. This itself was a huge accomplish with my dad’s bad knees and the tendonitis in both of our feet. When Monday came, we were exhausted, sore, but excited for the thing we were looking forward to the most.
The Museum of the Bible.
It was beautiful and overwhelming. I hope to go back to spend another full day exploring all the information. I could go on and on about my experience being surrounded by the history of the Bible and how it came to be, but, I’d like to share what happened after I got back.
When I went back to school, a girl in one of my classes asked me how my break was. I told her that I went to visit the Museum of the Bible. Her immediate response: “Oh, are you religious?” She didn’t sound accusatory, or insulting (like I get asked by others sometimes). To her, it was like she had asked me if I was simply a member of a club, where I pay my dues and attend weekly meetings for points. She seemed generally curious, but more as if she was just making conversation.
My response: “Well, I study religion. But I’m a Christian.”
Being religious does not mean someone is a Christian. I really don’t like when people associate being religious or spiritual with the life of a Christian. The study of religion (any religion) does not equate someone to be a member of a particular religion. To study a certain religion for your own curiosity doesn’t make you a believer in God’s eye either. You can know the Bible and its history backwards and forwards, but that doesn’t mean you live those words. It doesn’t mean you have faith in Jesus Christ. You can attend all the Sunday School lessons in the world, but unless you believe in Jesus and practice His teachings, then you are, ahem, a fake.
Believing Jesus Christ is your Savior and Lord is to receive the gift of salvation that He offers to all. But here is the kicker. If you believe and truly love Jesus, then your actions should reflect that.
When that girl asked me if I was religious, I felt offended. It was a general term that did not encompass the one, specific God I believe and put my trust in. She didn’t mean any harm. She was probably just trying to be politically correct.
Because saying you’re a Christian is a taboo today.
On the other hand, I get people giving me funny looks and they sneer “well, I’m not religious.” They talk about me behind my back. They are constantly watching to see when I mess up. Well, let me tell you. I’m going to mess up.
I do it frequently. People probably call me a hypocrite. A fake Christian. My name gets tossed around by un-believers and believers, and I really doubt it’s in a good way. Others who claim to be followers of Christ also mess-up.
As much as it hurts, that’s okay. I’m still praying through my own struggles and short comings. I’m praying for yours too, whether you want me to or not. I won’t forsake my God to make you feel comfortable. And I won’t shut up. I’ll keep smiling when I want to go off. And when I do slip up, and go off, I’ll apologize.
One time a girl told me she dated this boy whose mother refused to let her come to church with them. She wasn’t a believer, but for him, she was willing to go to church to learn more. I told her that Christianity does not bar the doors from anyone entering a service to learn about and worship God. She had no idea because of her experience. That boy’s mother screwed up, and offered a misinterpretation of Christianity. Sometimes I do it too. Sometimes I do it in public, and sometimes I do it in private, like when I’m by myself in quarantine.
As I sit in my house under quarantine during this pandemic we all are facing, I get sad sometimes. Sometimes I get really sad, and sometimes I say things I really shouldn’t. Then my pets give me the evil eye as if to say “oooooh, you just said a bad word!” Other times I think about throwing my homework across the room in frustrated anger. I think and sometimes scream out loud: “it’s not supposed to be this way! I’m supposed to be at school, finishing my last semester with my friends.” I feel guilty for quickly scrolling past posts about hope and encouragement on social media, because frankly, I’m just tired of seeing it. Then, my mom or grandmother remind me that this too shall pass. This isn’t forever, and our struggles now will soon seem like little blips on eternity.
The picture for this blog post is of my church doing a drive-in service since we are currently unable to meet together inside the building. My church sits up on a hill, and similarly Christians are up on display now more than ever. What will we do during these trying times? Give up? Turn to God?
God never said that His followers wouldn’t be persecuted. He never said we wouldn’t be offended. He never said we wouldn’t stumble. He also never said life would be easy, fair, and that bad things won’t happen to good people. He never said disease wouldn’t plague our lands. Jesus said to pick up our cross and follow Him. We will be persecuted. We will be offended. We will stumble because we are human. We will experience trials that threatened our faith.
Jesus just told us it will all be worth it in the end.