This is a common question: who do you think you are? I get it all the time — probably more than most because I speak my mind and I speak with conviction. I have gotten three different “who do you think you are” emails this week. Here are excerpts from all three:
People like you make me sick, always twisting the gospel to serve your needs. Jesus said we will always have the poor with us. It makes me angry when people like you try to lay a guilt trip on hard-working Americans, telling us to give away what we earn to people too lazy or too stupid to work for themselves. This isn’t what God wants. God wants us to make something of ourselves and not expect to be handed everything we want. There is a big difference between charity and being a chump. Liberals always miss the point. I can be kind and not give to the poor. I can be loving and not visit the sick. I can be good and not tolerate all the garbage of those around me.
You talk about unconditional love like it should be free and easy, that we should just look the other way and let anybody do whatever he wants to. There are people who don’t deserve any love. They are hateful and they are evil and they are beneath us. There are sinners who don’t ever want to stop their sin. There are murderers and rapists and thieves and politicians and bankers and homosexuals who are happy with what they do and they do not want to change and I do not think God wants us to love these people. You say we shouldn’t give up on them, but I say if you say these people are okay you are as bad as they are.
You expect way too much from Christians. Nobody has the time to pray and go to church and read the Bible like they once did. I think our churches have done a good job making faith simpler and easier for most normal people. I go when I can and I always get something out of it, but you talk about church and being disciples like it should be hard and only for professionals. You make it sound like we should be sorry that no one is trying to kill us for what we believe. Instead, I think you should celebrate how easy it is to be a Christian and how safe we are and how anyone can do it. We would be much better evangelists if we made it easier for people instead of harder. I think you make it way too hard. You evangelical religious right people always want to make a person’s religion everything about them.
Okay, I am too easy and too hard and I am too liberal and I am too conservative and I expect too much and I expect too little. Who do I think I am? Beats me. I’m confused. But it certainly helps to know what you all think I am… I often disagree strongly with the people who disagree with me, but that doesn’t mean we still can be blog-buddies. I disagree with all three of the people I quoted above, but I am happy they feel safe enough to write to me — whether to try to “fix” me or just to raise questions. I wish we could make the church a safer place to disagree and explore different opinions and points-of-view.
What I think is most delightful about these (and many other responses I receive) is the vast array of filters through which people read, process, interpret and react to what I write. I absolutely love it when I can write one piece that equal numbers of people label as “liberal” and “conservative.” I am almost as happy when I write things that everyone misinterprets as I am when I write something that almost everyone loves. It shows how vitally important the free and open exchange of ideas really is. I have never been one to expect people to agree with me — as long as they are willing to explain what they disagree with and don’t just take cheap shots because they don’t like what I say.
Another person wrote to me this week: “You’re doing this on purpose, aren’t you? Your posts this week have all been a little dogmatic and over the top. You’re just trying to get a rise out of us…” Almost guilty as charged. I don’t ever write JUST to get a reaction, but I sometimes write to the extreme to try to stir things up — like this week. It is part of what makes blogging fun. And I thank and appreciate every person who takes time to comment and engage in the community of dialogue. We don’t all have to agree, but we’re a lot healthier when we are open to talk.
Who do I really think I am? A child of God, a servant of Christ, one gifted by the Holy Spirit, a humble writer who likes to think out loud, a pilgrim on the way. Thanks for walking part of the journey with me.