Am I able to say that I was a little bit late to this whole Jesus thing? I mean, I grew up going to Catholic church because that’s what the rest of my family did and expected of me, but I didn’t know Jesus like I do now. The majority of my immediate family believe in God and believe in Jesus, but are not necessarily actively pursuing a life dedicated to them.
Sometimes, it’s really difficult not having grown up in a family that worshipped the living God. I cannot just ask my family to pray for me, I sometimes feel like a crazy weirdo, but I also am grateful for the faith that this has built within me.
Because I was late to the party, I have no idea how to mindlessly follow Jesus. I began my relationship with God at a very pivotal point in my life, my senior year, where I was scared out of my mind, angry with the expectations that people had for my future, discovering my underlying anxiety and depression. I have only known how to ask the ugly questions, to ask God why, to question where He is in the hurt.
With where society is today, I ask that a lot. I ask God where He is in the mess, and what I did to deserve a roof over my head, a whole world of opportunity, a voice, when others are being oppressed, disrespected, viewed as less than. Specifically with the recent hate crimes and terrorist acts, I can’t help but be angry with God.
Unfortunately, the church has shifted into something known for its judgement, disproval of anyone different, etc. Ironically, the people that claim to follow Jesus, are doing all of the things Jesus would not do.
Jesus was known for hanging out with the criminals, the sick, the “crazy.”
So where do we, as followers of Jesus, go from here?
We love. We unite. We stop believing that we are better than others, because the real reason we come to Jesus is because we’re broken sinners, too.
It’s such an automatic response to get angry with those who believe opposite political, religious, moral beliefs, because we have this intense need to be right. To be validated. But our calling is not to be right. We were not put on this earth to be right. We are called to love. To encourage. To respect.
There’s this powerful quote, spoken by Martin Luther King, Jr. that’s been shared a lot lately. “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:14-16 ESV).
Our job is to be that light and provide that love. So, before you engage in Facebook fights or indulge in anger against those of differing beliefs, take a moment to consider what the man we claim to follow would do.
words by Ashley Jesus and photo by Jessica DiMento