We have to get back to the basics of the Gospel. God forbid mankind of eating of the tree of knowledge of good and evil all the way back in the garden of Eden. For some reason we still sit at that tree, eating that rotting fruit, trying to figure out what is good and what is evil, instead of sitting at the tree of life, which is Jesus, and eating the fruit of life.
~ Merlin M.Troyer ~
The following evening found Wil & me, sitting side by side on top of Mom’s freezer, crying together and, in a way, discovering the truth of Jesus that runs deeper than religion.
The memories of the day are vague. The details, blurry. But the look I saw in Wil’s eyes, is as vivid as if it happened yesterday. The hope, the life, the purpose that he had the previous night were replaced by frustration, confusion and hopelessness.
When we parted ways the previous night, Wil had hair down to the base of his neck. Not long, not short. It wasn’t tapered. The church constitution said ‘hair must be short, tapered, and with sideburns no longer than the mid-point of the ear’, or something like that.
By the time I saw Wil, not twenty-four hours after his conversion, he was already ‘constitution approved’. Someone had butchered his hair. Bad!
The previous day he had made it very clear that he would not return to the church of our youth. I told him Jesus is the answer, not religion, and all I wanted was for him to be saved, free. I didn’t care what church he chose.
One look and I could only assume he had changed his mind, so I took a playful dig at his short hair.
Immediately, the look in his eyes told me something was wrong. He was a young man completely emasculated, his spirit crushed.
“Want to go talk?”
And that is how we ended up, sitting on Mom’s freezer. Wil told me how, on arriving at our older brother’s home after church the previous night, two older siblings had set up a ‘barber station’ and told him to sit. In spite of resistance, they managed to get him to surrender to the worst haircut of his life.
My older siblings were merely trying to ‘seal’ my brother’s salvation, make it visually authentic for themselves. It was the way of the church, what they were taught, what they bought into. No one came alongside him to pursue his heart, to mentor him to wholeness. One quick cleanup of the external and all was well, as long as it stayed that way.
In its wake, this religious act left Wil deeply wounded. It is why, the following evening, he said, “Trudy, if this is what Christianity is all about, I don’t want it.”
He was looking for freedom, for life, for hope. And on Sunday night he found it, in Jesus. By Monday he almost lost it, through religious abuse.
This is not what happened when Jesus walked through town. When He showed up, He left a path of healing, of life and men made whole–not emasculated and purposeless. Men and women alike had courage, life and boldness when Jesus walked through town.
Why then, when religion touches lives, does it do the exact opposite? Should the church, the religious organizations that represent Jesus not have the same impact on lives as Jesus did? After their lives are touched by the church—the body of Christ–should men and women not rise up, have opinions, share boldly, love as shamelessly as Christ did?
Is it possible that we have missed the mark? Is it, as Merlin M. Troyer says, in the opening quote I share, that we ‘…sit at that tree, eating that rotting fruit, trying to figure out what is good and what is evil, instead of sitting at the tree of life, which is Jesus, and eating the fruit of life…”? Is it not our knowledge of good and evil that cursed us, that curses us still? That distracts us from Jesus and makes us spend all our energy scrubbing, washing and shining up the outside of the cup? And not to mention forcing others to do the same? Manipulating, bullying and coercing?
I look at Jesus and I can’t find, what religion teaches us, in His life, in His example. What if we were like Him? Imagine how the world would change… not to mention the church!
© Trudy Metzger 2012
Go to First Post In This Series: http://trudymetzger.com/2012/05/22/spiritual-abuse-introduction/