Have you ever turned on the TV to find an assortment of televangelists of a variety of denominations and you’re scratching your head, wondering which one is telling the truth? Each one will tell you that they have the truth and everyone else..eeeh not so much. So how does a person who is new to the idea of Christianity figure out who has the truth and who doesn’t? What if they decide to start looking for a church and the first one they go to, says they have it right…more right than anyone else does? Then they try another church, only to find out they claim the truth as well. How does a person KNOW which church to go to?
If you ask people from each church how they decide, they will each give you some similar answers and some answers are very different. I think that a lot of people have thrown their hands up in the air and decided to figure it out on their own. Many are told, “you can’t pick and choose what to believe” But isn’t that what happened during the Reformation? Martin Luther decided which things he no longer believed in. Then more broke off from Martin Luther claiming that HE had some things wrong and they somehow had it more right than Martin Luther.
This domino effect has been taking place for centuries.
Even today there are now Baptists who recognize Calvinism in their own way, picking and choosing what they believe. This is normal! Yes, I say it’s normal. People will gather together with people they want to study with, commune with, worship with, and raise their families with. So what is the bottom line in becoming a Christian? The answer is simple really, it’s love. The simplest message that Jesus came to tell us, we are loved.
Is the message of “Jesus loves all people” really that simple?
“Learn about our mission to spread a passion for the supremacy of God in all things for the joy of all peoples, through Jesus Christ.” ~Desiring God.org
How does one come to know the love of Jesus Christ how do we learn more about Him and his love?
“God calls us to immerse ourselves in this authoritative narrative communally and individually to faithfully interpret and live out that story today as we are led by the Spirit of God.” ~Mars Hill.org
How will we know how is right and who is wrong?
Is it more important to be right or to love others?
People have gleaned a lot about God from various people from all sorts of denominations. We won’t all agree on pre-trib or post-trib, speaking in tongues, women’s clothing or headcovers, wine or juice, or an assortment of other issues that many churches face today. So what is the common thread that holds us, the Body, together? Is it a belief in one specific interpretation over another thing?
I thought it was Jesus.
If a person rejects the speaking on tongues for the church today, does that mean they’re not really Christians?
If a person accepts the sovereignty of God in all things does that mean they aren’t Christians?
If a person believes in radical grace, does that mean they aren’t Christians?
What is it, that one thing, that makes someone a Christian?
Some people think that if one doesn’t believe in the gifts of the spirit, that they aren’t Christians. I don’t agree with that. Just because someone hasn’t come to the same understanding as your church has, does not disqualify them as Christians.
Sarah wrote about writing under a pseudonym that made me think deeper about who I am. If I write about believing the same things as the Baptists, naturally the Baptists will read my blog. If I write about the same things as Calvinists, they’re more likely to read my blog.
But here’s the problem… I’m not a Baptist or a Calvinist, so if I write for them, then I’m not writing for me and my Lord.
I don’t want to be a fake Baptist or a fake Calvinist. I need to be me. I need to be who God created me to be. He created me different, maybe it’s so He could tell me apart from the others? He created you different too. I believe He likes the Baptist as much as He likes the Calvinist. In fact, I believe He loves them both unconditionally. I even like Baptists and Calvinists. Does God agree with them? Do I agree with them? Most likely not,… not in every point anyway. But I don’t think Jesus came to save only those who all agree the same.
Last I checked, He came to save the sinners.
Over the years of our ministry, I have made it a point to understand where each denomination is coming from on all their main points of doctrine. Sometimes I have created statuses on Facebook or Twitter and I’m slammed with an accusatory question, “What are you? A Calvinist?!?” Other times I have gotten the harsh comment of, “Oh Gawd, You’re a Baptist!” And do you know what? I’m neither, but man I can easily see how that might hurt someone’s feelings to get messages like that. You can study with one group and reveal that you believe in a form of predestination and get shunned. You can be with another group and say you believe in the gift of tongues and get shunned. What’s with all this shunning? We didn’t become “all knowing” about the bible on the first day we believed in Christ. (I still don’t think any of us are ALL knowing.) Why do we expect so much out of others then?
There are a great many beautiful things written in the pages of the Bible. I don’t have to let anything I study shake my faith. I study it daily. I can’t help it. Some days I study so much I have to put it down and remember that I can’t just study what to believe, I need to live what I believe too.
Want to know what I believe? I believe God loves you.
I believe that while we’re all on this journey of trying to understand what to believe, there is a whole lot more fun in living out what we believe. So my friends, I love you. I love you if you’re a Catholic, a Baptist, a Lutheran, a Reformer, and yes even the Universalists. As a matter of fact, my heart goes out to them. Right now they are the least loved Christians out there. They are ridiculed the most, rejected as heretics, and shamed on blogs all over the “Christian” blogosphere. And while you may think they are “wrong” about some things, Jesus still commands us to love them. You don’t have to read what they write about, you don’t have to believe what they believe, but we are commanded to love them.
Afterall, isn’t it Jesus that holds the Body together? Give people some room to breathe while they study and try to figure all this bible stuff out. It all begins with love.
For a time I studied with the Baptists, and the Lutherans, then the Calvinists, and even the Quakers (that sure is fascinating stuff!). Right now I’m studying with the Christian Universalists. Do you know what I found out? They really love Jesus. They hurt, they cry, they beg God for answers to relieve their souls of deepest agony. Where their loved ones are today. No other denomination has been able to give them any hope at all for their loved ones beyond this life. They have questions that demand an answer.
Maybe you can stop thinking of trying to be right all the time long enough to love someone who is studying with the Christian Universalists when they bury their loved ones in the grave. Stand by their side and hold their hands as the casket is lowered into the earth. Rub their backs as they throw themselves over the casket and hug that box one last time. As they look up to allow their pain stricken eyes meet yours and what will you say? Will you say , “So sorry my dear, your husband is in hell forever now”? Will she ever be able to find peace and hope in that?
So while so many might be attacking those who are looking deeper into the Bible and into their hearts for answers, can you give them room to breathe and ask questions? Because quite frankly my dears, I can’t seem to breathe at all until their questions are answered. I want to be there with them, holding their hands, rubbing their backs, and hugging them at the end of each day as we study together…looking for hope. Christ is our hope, and I believe that there is hope beyond hell.
It’s Jesus that holds the Body together, no matter how long it takes for someone to understand the Bible.
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