Here is some background to put this entry into context…
A younger man that I mentor named “Bryan Smith” sent me an email that included the following paragraph…
“I know you are a straight-shooter… So – to be honest- in the last few months you seem different to me than you were when we first started meeting. I don’t know if some Christian or something crossed you wrong and caused you to have an attitude of disdain – but if so, I’m very sorry that happened and I am certain it grieves the heart of God.”
My response to “Bryan Smith”….
I had already seen all of this in your eyes the lat time we met. And, my gut was confirmed when I saw you at the airport.
You had asked me to tell you what I honestly thought of you. And, I could see it in your face that you did not like what you heard. Although I doubted you would come back for more (and, this saddened my deeply), I felt it was my duty as your friend, and a man of truth, to tell you what I believe you need to know – not what you want to hear.
To be candid, I don’t believe you can learn any thing from me in your current season of life. The way I would hold you accountable is untenable for you. Let me give you clear examples… I am convinced that you want to surround yourself with people that will tell you that you are a young genius in the verge of changing the world. You also want people to “invest” in your gifts and support you. I don’t disdain Christians. I do question the caliber of men that can’t carry their own weight. And, there are too many of those people around you.
As you know, perceptiveness is one of my strongest gifts.
You have probably been sitting on this email to me for some time out of uncertainty.
I have not been wounded by a Christian that has resulted in my disdain for Christianity. I am, of course, made of much sterner stuff than that. I have certainly been disappointed by many people of every conceivable faith. But, it is my conviction that all men are inherently good; and, this core belief drives my passion to keep helping people that cross my path.
“Bryan Smith”, Christians do not own integrity. Nor do they have dibs on God. There is only one God. I probably see him more in context as described by the Holy Bible (the Qur’an was, in my opinion, written in a fashion that was meant to be unclear, and thusly, an aid to subjugate free will and open opinion – the sorry plight of most Muslims). But, that is primarily because the Bible is the most comprehensive text that accounts for His principles via relevant life examples and makes the “Christ element” so very compelling. I know you probably don’t like my views as a “Jeffersonian”/2. And, I have been criticized for this by the local Christian community. But, as you mature you might consider that Thomas Jefferson was the architect of our Constitution that formed a country that is the very foundation of a community where Christianity has one of it’s strongest footholds, and a platform for the Great Commission in the form of Global Missions. Thomas Jefferson would ask us to embrace all men, and encourage them to love God as their various cultures perceive Him. Bryan, if you can’t or are unwilling to love everyone, and learn from them, you will fail to be the best asset you NEED to be to fully glorify God and represent Christ. Furthermore, I think that any man that attempts to “conform” the love of God along a single linear belief defies Christ’s own message. Jesus fascinates me because he focused on the outsiders of the community and used them as examples of his love. No one, certainly not me, can deny that Jesus Christ changed the world, and continues to do so daily. Perhaps this is why His gift of discernment is so crucial to real growth. Therefore, there is noting worse than a defensive Christian with a closed mind. They fail to carry Christ’s flag because they think they are entitled to bear his cross.
That, my brother, is you. In the body of this email you send me is judgment.
Put a date on your calendar to read this email on July 22nd each year. As your life and role on this planet evolves, ask yourself if my words are true, and assess their impact and value as they compliment your evolution as a man. I want nothing but success for you. Since I don’t know what that will look like, I am eager for updates in the years to come.
I think you have potential. So, don’t be that Christian that evokes my disdain. Make me proud and consider what Jesus would have you do instead – not necessarily men of your community that have lives unfulfilled, and are not true to their friends. One of the best mentors I have had (so far), and a Jew to boot, taught me to follow my dreams, and be true to my friends. So, for the moment, these words, in this email, are the best gift I have to offer you. I don’t believe they will have the impact I hope for today. But, I am investing in your future.
I am your friend.
1/ Goodbye (or the shortened form, goodby, sometimes used in American English, or simply bye) is a traditional farewell phrase used in the English language. Most scholars agree that the phrase originally derives from “God be with you.” It has also been suggested by some that it originated from “God buy [redeem] you”.
2/ See “Being Jeffersonian, Part I” dated 02/09/07 and “Being Jeffersonian, Part II” dated 02/10/07.