It’s at this point that I have to make a choice: Do I know Love and Light when I see it or not? Are Evangelicals offering the scent of Christ, or is it some other stench?
(We have certainly seen an exception in North Carolina where Evangelicals are joining in support of a Freedom Movement. These folks along with the NAACP are busy working against Tea Party policies that seek to further dehumanize those in need. I imagine they're going to get the pink slip from the Empirical Evangelicals in time.)
I’ve been nudged out of the Evangelical tribe a few times this year. I have even been asked why I call myself a Christian. Somehow, somewhere Christianity stopped being defined by one's Life in Christ and became about defending a narrow interpretation of the text and an arbitrary set of cultural norms. I was told I have a “reprobate mind.” Thankfully, I’ve survived spiritual abuse before and I know those pat phrases useful for instilling fear too well to fall for them. For whatever reason, one's stance on gay marriage has become the new litmus test for Christianity. Clearly, I am outside the fold.
So, here I am, in love with the Ultimate Reality, the Cosmic Christ, whose scent I am drawn by in all areas of this big, wide world. I am called to holy awe by nature, by strangers, by music and by the words of sages of all walks. In all of these things the paradox of the un/Knowable keeps me uncomfortably satisfied.
And, I want a label.
I have an interesting relationship with labels. I don’t like to label others, because I know I’m not definable by a series of words. Like the God in whose image I am created, I am ultimately ineffable. I’m a cacophony of paradox. I think one thing and then question that thing until I am shouting within myself “All I know is Love! Love is the answer!” But labels have some power. They give us something to live into, to embody. Inside we need some labels to manage ourselves, to perceive ourselves, to get a relaxed grip on this slippery essence of ourselves.
So, I'll be a Lover. I am a Lover. No qualifications, no caveats. Lover.
I’m even finally facing the fact that some people, though Christ’s words and deeds are not the basis of their faith, want to be called Christian even to the exclusion of the mainline Christian denominations. They want to keep that label and they don’t want me (or Episcopalians or Unitarians or Presbyterians) using it.
The temptation is there for me as well. My ego would love to excommunicate anyone who doesn't put the poor ahead of worldly power-grabbing. But like my ego's other pursuits, this would be about as fruitless as pissing into the wind.
Ultimately, labels don’t create reality, they only poorly describe it. I am compelled to continue on my way. I love my church, study the scriptures, pray, defend the powerless and I want to be the embodiment of all that Christ is. If all that is not good enough for your Evangelical Christian label, you may keep it.