Burdensome Christianity


It used to be that the single greatest frustration in my life was my own lack of…. of so many things. My lack of diligence, commitment to what I love, faith, gentleness, selflessness, pure relationship with God and with others. This still bothers me to a large degree, but another issue has almost, if not completely, eclipsed it-

Christianity vexes me. At least what it has become does.

Pews of the First Methodist Church in Monroe, ...

It scrapes on my nerves like sandpaper. Nearly every time I see or hear of a Christian representing Jesus in real life i get sick- cause chances are they treat others like a “Christian” – coming off as strong headed, relentless, hopelessly proud, arrogant, always right, full of mercy towards those that share their own ideology, but holding unspoken (or in some cases widely broadcasted) apprehension towards those that don’t. I cannot take it any longer!

Why doesn’t the Church stop loving itself so dang much and begin to love other people?!

And this isn’t just about loving others with good feelings, or even acts of service- but with our Intentions, with our Budgets, with our Politics, with our Books, with our Music, with our Attitudes, with our Preaching (o crap huh?), with our Dispositions and with our Judgments.

It is easy for me to understand why Jesus got so angry with the religious elite of his day. With those that cared more about rules than people. Those that put burdens on outsiders, but did not lift a finger to help them. Those that cared more about their politics than those in need.

I can no longer look in the face of people who have been seriously burned by God’s people- people burned by me most of all!

Worst thing is… we don’t care. OK maybe some do, but most of us don’t take responsibility. Most of the Church doesn’t even know it is hurting people! God forbid that the Church should realize what is happening, admit its mistakes, and begin taking steps to right its wrongs.

For those of you that think we are doing fine by a wide margin (which probably means you are a Christian like me), i don’t fault you. I used to be there. There are books written on the subject of how we have fallen so far short (UnChristian is a good place to start), but all you need to do is build relationships with non-believers and begin looking in on the Church from an outsider’s perspective. Its ugly. Even if not everything they see is true, it is still ugly.


Well, as I’ve been wallowing in the quagmire of frustration I have started to look to Jesus. And I’ve realized (my head has, but maybe not my heart so much) that no matter how jacked up this community is, the Church is still his bride. It must break Christ’s heart so much to see what goes on, but he never stops interceding for us. He never stops loving us. He never stops having hope for us.

That’s what matters after all right? Isn’t a loss of faith, hope, and love the very thing that got us into this mess in the first place? So from now on these things are where I’m investing my heart. I want to love the Church enough to responsibly, and lovingly, identify its mistakes; as well as care enough to wholeheartedly belong to this group of people that is somehow, yet undoubtedly, on a path towards true love and true humility.

Here’s to the hopeful future 🙂

Allen Marshall O'Brien

Allen Marshall O’Brien is the pastor of a UCC church in Northern California and co-host of the Irenicast. He believes in the importance of education, peace, and ecology, throws things to his border collie Sonata, and writes for multiple platforms.

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  • Christianity makes me physically ill too, almost to the point of puking, as I said religion is all horseshit and for all these years I’ve really been an atheist but I just wanted to earn money by being in a church where I don’t actually have to work, all I have to do is talk about the God and Bible I pretend to believe in. There’s no god for real.