So author Anne Rice has declared she is “quitting Christianity.” Apparently, for Anne, at least, that does not mean “quitting Christ.” For the sake of her soul, and her quality of earthly life, I’m glad for her in that. But the rest of her statement puzzles me. She said, ” It’s simply impossible for me to “belong” to this quarrelsome, hostile, disputatious, and deservedly infamous group. For ten …years, I’ve tried. I’ve failed. I’m an outsider. My conscience will allow nothing else.”
No matter her religious affiliation, I’m afraid Ms. Rice will always belong to a quarrelsome, hostile, disputatious, infamous group. It’s called the human race, and these very failings are the reason Jesus was born, lived as a man, was crucified, died, and rose again from the grave.
Christians, some Christians, are undoubtedly anti-gay, anti-feminist, anti birth control and whatever else. I’m pretty sure you could probably even find Christians who are anti-donut on Sunday morning (but not many). However, I hardly think those who call themselves Christians have cornered the market on bigotry, misunderstanding, or narrow points of view. There are always plenty narrow minded people making noise, including authors who choose to condemn thousands of believers she doesn’t even know because a few that she does know has apparently hurt her feelings and made her feel like an “outsider” (her words, not mine).
Following Jesus, whether you like it or not, means becoming a part of the body of Christ, the fellowship of believers, the family of God. Like any family, some members are easier to love than others. Jesus was pretty clear about expecting us to love each other even when it wasn’t easy. Christians who decide to go it alone inevitably find themselves focused, not on Christ, but on themselves, and they are never happy.
Jesus is where we turn when the world disappoints us, and he doesn’t often let us hide. He points us right back out there, even when the folks that disappointed us are others who follow him. Especially then.
I feel sorry for Ms. Rice. She is shutting herself off from the entire body of believers because some of them have frustrated her and hurt her feelings. She is setting herself up for a cold and lonely experience. My prayer for her is that she find a group of fellow believers she can love with the same unconditional love Christ gives us, warts and all.