Wednesday, April 19, 2017

No More Fake

By Emily Donehoo

I didn’t like Jesus when I was in college. Mostly because the people I knew who talked about liking Jesus in college were super weird. They were fake. And they were appalled at people like me. People who engaged in under-aged drinking and made out with guys they didn’t know. People who swore and went to wild parties. Girls who flirted, wore low-cut tops, and danced on tables a time or two. I was inadvertently giving them an education about what real people were, and they were giving me an education about fake Jesus, bad religion, and fear.  

Maybe the weirdest fake-Jesus-pusher was this middle-aged man who used to come to our campus to stand outside the main cafeteria with big signs. The signs would list the sins he assumed everyone within earshot was committing. He would shout random “warnings” to people he thought needed to be “educated”. He yelled at me once. Screamed that I was going to hell because “Tank tops are an adulterer’s tool of the devil worn by evil fornicators.”

This guy wore eighties-style iron-on T-shirts and mesh hats with the words “Don’t Sin” on them.

I saw a friend of mine wearing one of these rare gems, and I asked him about it.  Apparently, my friend ran up and stole a “Don’t Sin” hat off of the “Preacher’s” head while he was distracted by a girl he was calling a “harlot.” My friend got an earful of “wisdom” shouted at him while “Preacher” chased after him, but it’s hard to chase down a sinner while carrying a four-foot sign which specifically lists “stealing” as a sin. So my friend got away with his new hat. The lunch crowd roared and cheered. If YouTube had been a thing back then, he would’ve been a sensation. 

But based on what I’ve read about Actual Jesus, I think if Actual Jesus had been on my college campus in 1999 and witnessed the hat-stealing, I think it would’ve gone down like this:

Jesus: Hey man, wanna see some cool stuff?
Friend: Like what?
Jesus: We’ll give a blind guy back his sight. Tell a paralyzed guy to walk, and he will. Turn water into wine…
Friend: Sweet. That sounds cool.
Jesus: Skip class and follow Me.
Friend: I’m failing that class anyway.

Actual Jesus would've done his amazing story-telling thing where my friend would've had an, "Oh. Yeah. Stealing's not cool" realization at some point, but He usually only led with the truth about sin with Pharisees. Which is why I think Actual Jesus would’ve put “Preacher” in his place somehow because he always put the Pharisees in their place. That would’ve been fun to watch.

But basically, I didn’t like Jesus because the Christians I knew just wanted to bully me into believing. The Christians I knew didn’t want to be kind or patient. They didn’t want to be loving or accepting. They tried to save me and change me so they could sew one more Merit Badge on their non-existent Souls Saved Sash or something.

If I would have met Actual Christ in college, I imagine it would’ve gone something like this:

Me: Hi
Jesus: Hi
Me: You’re ripped.
Jesus: I Am
Me: Are you an athlete?
Jesus: I’m a carpenter.
Me: So you build things out of wood?  Like furniture?
Jesus: Yes.
Me: That’s hot.
Jesus: Okay.
Me: You going to the party on Saturday? Just gonna be some people drinking too much and making out.
Jesus: I love people like that.
Me: Cool. Can you teach me how to build stuff?
Jesus: Sure. Follow me.

I’m 37-years-old, and thankfully, my eventual non-fake husband introduced me to Actual Jesus.  I don’t fully understand who I am yet, and I don’t fully know who He is yet either. But, I do know that I’m no longer the girl I used to be. And that Jesus, the Real Jesus, is the same as He ever was. 

One who provides, protects, and heals. One who doesn’t even flinch at our shame, fears, regrets, and screwed-up pasts. 

A friend whose love never wavers, whose arms are ever open, welcoming the poor, the lonely, the sick, the weary…. the thieves, the whores, the murderers, the drunks… He is the one who rebuilds the broken and restores the dilapidated pieces of our lives and our souls.

There are many things that I don’t know, but I do know that Christians and non-Christians alike are a screwed up bunch of humanity, and when we make the decisions, we get it wrong much of the time. But that’s why He came. That’s why He died, because we always have been a bunch of screw-ups. On this earth, and in this life, I am sure that I will continue to screw up this person God made me, but the more time I spend with the Real Jesus, the more like Him I become. The more truly I know him, the more truly I also know myself because I can see myself as he sees me - loved, accepted, restored.

Emily Donehoo is the only female in a family of five. She is a former High School English Teacher and National Trainer for the College Board. These days, when she isn’t scrubbing toilets, administering timeouts, working at book fairs, attempting to tackle dinner, laundry, homework help, dishes, and a preschooler’s incessant questions, she writes authentically about the hard stuff that really matters, hoping to uncover the truth that God has for us whether it makes us cry from laughter, pain or both at the same time. Read more of her writing here

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