For those of you whom have known me (casually) for the past few years you might think that I might be going through some sort of phase. For the people whom have known me a bit more for the same amount of time might have seen this as a natural progression. The rest of you that know me (and have probably have know me for over a decade or so now) know that this is nothing new. Sadly I have to say its more like an ebb and flow which I'm working on changing; really its more of me returning, rather, to a place where I was before and trying to go from there.
For the past five years (I think it has been) I’ve been calling myself a Follower of Christ and not a Christian. I know it is just word play but for the past few years I wanted to separate myself from the hypocrisy that many Christians adopt in their walk with Jesus. One of the big ones for me was the super, ultra, mega churches. I know that if God decides to bless a church with thousands of members than so be it, but I've been to a few of these and what I felt at these places was not the spirit of the Lord. What I felt was Club Jesus.
Club Jesus was open every Sunday from 8am-1pm and the dress code was STRICLY enforced. Another thing that I wanted to separate myself from was the self-righteousness that a lot of so called Christians adopt. The attitude that because you are SAVED AND SANCTIFIED then you (and PASSA) have the right to pass judgment on ANYTHING, EVERYTHING, and ANYONE; when the fact is that last I checked Jesus was the one who died on the cross. Jesus is the one that we have to stand before ALONE and give account for our lives, NOT Passa so and so, NOT Bishop or Deacon so and so, and most definitely NOT Sista so and so. This and the fact that most of the churches I had been to up until a certain point were certainly holy ghost filled, but as far as the pastor instructing and teaching from the word I felt like i was missing out on something. While the pastor hyperventilated and spoke in tongues for an hour or so I would sit in the back and have my bible reading time. My Grandmother said it best once when I was a child,
“Boy that passa sho did do some preachin. I don't know what he was saying but he sho did do some preachin.”
I set out to feast upon the meal that is the wisdom and knowledge of the lord and his goodness and I felt as if I was getting candy and ice cream. Its ok for a while but to grow right you need nutrition.
That led me to non-denomination churches; here I learned the difference between the HOLY GHOST and the HOLY SPIRIT. Man I did miss good ole praise and worship service, but in these churches I was feed the knowledge, and wisdom of the lord and instructed in his word. My hunger for knowledge was filled but it was like eating chicken, vegetables, and rice all the time, you seek something sweet once in a while. I also always felt like an outsider, like it was God, them, and I. I also found in the non-denominations I had been to most ever message was one of prosperity, but taught in the way of “Jesus, the ultimate Jinni.” One thing I did find in common between Non-denominations and most Black Churches was that they both were not afraid to pass the collection plate around a good 2 or 3 times for the “building fund” or whatever fund. I had got to a point where I felt like Anthony of Hippo and just wanted to go into a mountain cave or lock myself in a tomb with my bible and just pray and be with god. No place where fake, phony, name only Christians could get to me. A place where every Sunday there were 2 or three collections for the building fund but no new building, a place where people smiled in your face but when you passed them on the way out of church you heard,
“Shh, shh here he come.”
but like with Anthony of Hippo God was not having that with me.
Some time ago my good friend Racquell started her walk with God ( coincidently she started her walk at the very same church i was born again at when I was 16) Since then she has truly let go and let god. She then started going to another church and had been asking me to come there off and on for the past six years I think. I of course said no because I knew that with the exception of her those people would probably be all phony, name only Christians; ready to condemn something to hell ignoring their own sins and faults when God himself commanded everyone and especially those whom follow him to hold out a helping and forgive. In that six year time though I had my adventures of finding a Church home that not only was gay friendly but i felt complete at. A place where I felt god’s presence and learned his word.
One place was a gay friendly church and had a gay pastor whom was very knowledgeable and very anointed, but it was so boring there and it took me more time to get there than the entirety of the service. I was the newest addition to a parish of 6 or 7 people. They eventually shut their doors because finances would not allow them to stay open. I had the greatest adventure when I had made a “friend” (yeah we will say friend) whom told me about his church and how gay friendly it was and how it was full of the spirit and when i finally went there the message was on “The EVILS of the effeminate spirit and how it shall not enter into the gates of heaven.” and how “…all that are afflicted with effeminate spirits can be released from it if they pray hard enough , fast long enough and chastise(not literally) themselves when they feel those abominable feelings coming over them.” that was a fun 2.5 hours. Add in some other places being too far away, or me just stepping over the threshold and god telling me to go back out and you’ll see how I had become discouraged and decided to just give up on finding a church home and just decided to study and pray, and whenever God decided it was time then it would be time.
I became a person that learned everything that I could about the bible on my own and walked in faith with God alone. I knew (and know) that God would not create me upon this earth and make me in a manner that sentences me to eternal damnation because of something I have no control over and can not pray away. Hell, that was the reason I got born again at 16. I took the word (well really i took the word of some phony, fake people calling themselves Christians) at its word, all my sin would be washed away so imagine my disappointment when I came out the water and was like,
“Damn, still gay.”
Just as much as I can not change being Black, or Male, I CAN NOT change being Gay. Sure I could never have sex with another man again but I would still lust after one in my heart and mind so its the same thing. I could go have an operation so COSMETICALLY I would be a woman, but again the parts don't really work like a real woman's (and to each their own I'm not hating just saying It was not for me) and I love being a man and thank god for making me a man and just as I have no desire to have sex with a woman I have no desire to be one either. I could go bleach my skin but I love being black way too much and thank god for it everyday. So by FAITH I KNOW that Leviticus 18:22, and Romans whatever (I forget right now) must have been warped and taken out of context over the centuries and something is just not right. It just does not seem godly. I know for a fact that in those times the ancient Greeks, Romans, and Egyptians offered up orgies parties to their gods as a form of sacrificial offering. I also know that in those times and in those cultures a man married to a woman could have sex with a male prostitute and those societies saw nothing wrong with it (sorta like how some men think that long as they don’t bottom they are not gay). I'm thinking at originally it was the sex outside of marriage, and the sex with multiple people, and pretty sure offering sex as a form of scarifies was the sin, NOT just plain ole man on man, woman on woman. Either way I’ll find out Judgment day, until then I will keep on loving and praising the lord.
Fast forward a decade, MANY adventures in the Castro, a few failed flings, living in the city, one hell of a three year relationship where we would have been married if we could have been legally, and me getting back to where I was spiritually before I met that person and you have the point where my friend Racquell pops back in my life. She was now married and living around the corner from me and still inviting me to her church. I decide to have dinner with her and her husband. I began to talk about how I choose (chose now) study bibles based on the notes it gave on John 21:15-17. If the bible in question explained the difference between Phileo and Agapao it was a good study bible in my eyes. She then said,
“Pastor B taught a sermon about that one Sunday.”
and her husband shook his head in agreement.
With the exception of Melissa Scott I had NEVER heard of ANY pastor teaching that scripture in any other way than it being that Jesus asked three times and Peter denied three times. I was readily hooked. The line and sinker was when they had a different approach to bible study. It was not just service on a Thursday night. It was a bible Q and A session where you could ask any questions you wanted and the pastor and others would answer to the best of his knowledge. Ever since then I’ve been going to this church. I haven't once felt like the sermon was not speaking DIRECTLY to me, and even right down to technicalities my soul agrees with this place.
Coming from a black church background when a baby is born you wait eight days or so and then have the baby christened or baptized but I’ve always felt that was wrong. Being baptized I feel is something that should be a conscience decision made by the person undergoing it but that was just me. I haven't ever been to a church that thought that, until a few Sundays ago. They did a dedication of a new born were it was not a baptismal because of the reasons that I just said. I was fully impressed. So I think I might have found a church home. A place where I can fellowship with other followers of Christ and dare I say Christians. Sadly I do not like the music there but I've given up on finding a church that mixed holy ghost praise and worship with holy spirit instruction. I’ll just listen to some Marvin Sap, MMC, old school Kirk Franklin, and others in my headphones on the way there while I conveniently just a little late, every Sunday.
I tell you though it is worth it because I not only feel the lords presence there but i also see that Pastor B is a very anointed, and educated man and his sermons ALWAYS align with the bible, and there have been times where some of the same things that I came up with in my study time is what he preached on your said the very same thing. Also, this blew me away, not one time has he asked for a offering to “the building fund” nor does he teach prosperity messages as if God were the ultimate jinni, and all you have to do is pray and be good and god will give you a 50 room house on a hill and a car for every room.
So I think I’ve truly found a church home. This does not mean that i wont be a part of my non Christians friends lives because that is a bunch of hypocritical mess, hell Jesus hung out at the bars, brothels, and preached to anyone whom would listen. People now forget that in those times Jesus was the equivalent to a long-haired hippie rebel (yes i said Jesus was a hippie :-) ) breaking traditions, teaching non-conformity, and upsetting the establishment; hell if they had liked him so much they would not have nailed him to a cross.
So don't think that I'm claiming perfection like the phony hypocrites that I can not stand because if i (or they for that matter) were perfect then we would not have needed Jesus to die on the cross, anybody whom has some sense about the matter would tell you its NOT about being perfect but about recognizing your imperfections and doing what you can to change the things that can be changed and knowing that there is forgiveness when you stumble. Don't think that you cant talk about A,B, or C with me or around me like you did before because I'm still me. Don't think that I'm going to beat you over the head with the bible telling you that you are going to burn in hell unless you get saved right now and quoting scriptures at you every two seconds, and not making any of the jokes that I made before. I did not do that before so don't expect that of me now, but like before if you do have a question and you think I can answer it then ask me. What I'm saying is I have NOT become what you all know that I can not stand (fake, phony, hypocritical, club Jesus member). What am doing is just making a public declaration of something that has been inside of me for a LONG LONG time now. I am a follower of Christ, and dare I say it. A Christian.