This morning, I dreamt that Keegan-Michael Key, of the TV Show Key & Peele, kept clotheslining me. He kept hitting my neck in the right place to make me lose my breath. He thought it was funny, and he was trying to make the people around us laugh. I wasn’t laughing. I was starting to panic in the dream because I didn’t know how to make him stop. I thought, “Lord, help me!” and I started waking up immediately. Thanks Lord.
My dream led through a string of thoughts. As I was coming out of my sleep around 5 A.M., I started to wonder where rich people go to church. I thought to myself, “I’m going to go to church in Greenwich. I need to talk to their Jesus.”
I’ve been having some financial challenges lately, and I decided yesterday that I would write about them for this week’s post, but then I had these thoughts this morning that kept me awake before sunrise. They felt important enough to get me out of bed and write them down, so I’m going to write about them instead.
I committed myself to Googling “black churches in Greenwich, Connecticut,” where the median household income is $125,000. I want to find out what rich people are taught about Jesus and how He relates to money and wealth-building.
Then, I thought about entertainers’ speeches during award shows. When actors, rappers and singers get on stage to accept their statues and plaques, they always say, “I’d like to thank God.” Rarely do they say, “I’d like to thank Jesus.”
And Oprah…she doesn’t mention Jesus at all. Just God and the universe.
Why don’t these people mention Jesus? Are they afraid they’ll lose their money if they say His name? Is it like saying the word “abracadabra?” to perform a magic trick? Except in this trick by saying the word “Jesus” you’re making your money disappear? Is the word “Jesus” synonymous with “low-income?” I don’t ever remember hearing about Jesus being a homeowner. In fact, now I’m wondering if He was homeless because he was always on the road visiting other people’s homes. He’s been described as a couch-surfer. I’ve also heard that He was a carpenter, but I’ve always assumed He was just an okay carpenter because no one raved about His furniture in the Bible. I wonder if He was able to support Himself with this trade.
Does the name Jesus keep people poor? What if Jesus has been pushed onto black and brown people to keep them impoverished? Who loves God more than a poor, old black woman?
Many churches organize missions trips to serve and spread the gospel of Jesus Christ to poor countries, but I rarely hear of missions trips to places like Qatar, Singapore or Dubai, some of the richest places in the world. The Bible says it’s harder for a rich man to get into heaven than a poor man, so why aren’t Christians trying rescue the most at risk people?
Why do Christians put so much emphasis on the sufferer (Jesus) and not the Creator (God)? Don’t all of the self-help books and videos say that we should align ourselves with mentors that we aspire to be like, or whose lives we want? God’s life seems a tad better than Jesus’ life. I’m just saying.
Is it a coincidence that Jewish people, who prefer God over Jesus, are the wealthiest religious group in America, according to the Pew Research Center? Hindus come in second; Episcopalians, a Christian group, come in third.
As a Christian, is it blasphemous for me to be asking these questions “out loud?”
On another note, as kids and teens, why aren’t we encouraged to explore different spiritual beliefs the way we are allowed to tinker with our physical appearances, try out different clothing styles, eat different foods and explore other cultures?
When I was 10-years-old, my parents took me to see Spike Lee’s film, “Malcolm X.” I was so impressed by Denzel Washington’s portrayal of the activist that I left the movie wanting to become a Muslim. My mom and dad laughed, and I continued attending Christian church with my grandparents.
I wonder how my life would’ve been different if I was allowed to become Stacy Ghaffari-Hassan instead of Stacy Graham-Hunt. I know parents are supposed to protect their children and lead them up in the way that they feel they should go. I’m sure they thought they were protecting my soul and securing my spot in the afterlife, which is probably why they didn’t drop me off at a mosque the following Friday.
We want people to choose us to be in their lives – our lovers, our children, our friends, yet we force Jesus on people. I don’t want a relationship with someone who’s been indoctrinated or brainwashed to select me. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why the father in story of The Prodigal Son was so happy to have his son back. His son chose him after going out into the world and seeing what else was out there.
What if Jesus isn’t for everybody? What if I, or you, or some other people are most effective, most impactful, and most helpful to others on this earth as something else besides Christian? What if they are most “Christ-like” as Buddhists? Am I allowed to consider this as a Christian?
I’m not sure where all these thoughts came from, and why I’ve been awaken out of my sleep to have them, but they’re happening, so I’m exploring them. I can just picture some of my Christian family and friends gasping and throwing Holy olive oil at their phones right now, and hoping that somehow it reaches me. I can picture them adding me to their prayer lists right now. “Pray for Stacy’s lost soul.” If it makes you feel any better, I’ve been going to church every Sunday. (I’ve started visiting a new church since the “Your Baby is a Bastard” post.) I also pray and read my bible just about every day.
I wonder how many people believe in Jesus only because the people in their environments do. I wonder how many Christians and church leaders are really indifferent. I wonder how many of them go to church simply because they’ve been doing it their whole lives or because they enjoy dressing up on Sundays, or because they want to see their friends at church and hear some good music, or find a date. If I’m being honest, I’ve gone to church for all of these reasons at least once.
Can I be allowed to think about these things without being considered a backslider, heathen or lost?
Oh! And I just remembered it’s Easter Weekend…great timing. *sigh*