stephen, thank you for sharing your story. It’s one that needs to be shared. I, too, walked away from an evangelical church around 2007–2008. It grounded me and helped me to realize that God is so much infinitely bigger than the box I thought I put him in. But things changed. It slowly began to morph into something that was much too homogeneous. So I hear you loud and clear.
People need to know that while we as Christians are flawed, Christ’s example and teachings of loving God and loving one another are perfect. It’s through the sharing of individual walk — strides, stumbles, falls, and making it back to our feet— in the light of Christ’s grace and mercy, that we in turn are able to demonstrate what Christ’s teachings are all about.
You closed your essay with a conundrum of sorts —
I don’t know how to rescue anyone who’s still in the bubble.
Believe it or not, the solution is right there in that statement. You don’t know how to rescue anyone because you’re not called to rescue anyone. It’s not your job. None of us can rescue one another … but we can point the way to the one who can break them free of their performative bubble of religion & help them be free to be loved by God and to love their neighbors. Even still, the decision to follow the way to freedom is theirs alone. It’s their choice.
Do the italicized words look familiar? They should. They’re yours.
Do what you’re called to do. Keep talking, keep working, keep resister, keep praying (your words again) … and while you’re at it, you may want to add listening to the top of the list.
You know what helped you want to change: personal relationships. Be that example in relationships. Love one another.