I was recently told by somebody, commenting on somebody else’s blog post, that I am not a Christian.
I figured in this blog post I’d set out what it means to be a Christian. It’s not the first time, I’ve been told this and it won’t be the last.
“For God so loved the world, that he sent his one and only son so that who so ever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life”
Some people I think, have great difficulty in believing the “who so ever.” There are no limitations in that. This was one of the first bible verses I ever learnt. It means that Jesus died for every one. All of us.
There wasn’t a group of people that Jesus felt more worthy, he saw the world as sinners.
If there were perfect among us, there would have been no reason for him to die at all.
Instead he viewed us all equal. No one better than the person before and gave us ALL a chance at eternal life.
There is more. He required us to repent and be baptised in the name of the father the son and the Holy Spirit. In other words he asked us to be cleansed.
As sinners, the water of baptism symbolises us being washed anew. Jesus took our sin at the cross, we take on the we are no longer sinners but clean in his blood.
The sticking point with Christians though is always theology.
When theology differs, accusations fly.
I’m not saying that all theology is good. Some is damaging. Some produces fruit that is bad. In those times it is important that you use wisdom to decide whether or not to believe what is being said. It’s important to see if those theories hold weight against what the bible says and not to follow blindly.
God gave us some pretty awesome brains. He expects us to use them. He also expects us to make mistakes, probably daily.
I whole heartedly believe every thing I’ve said above. I am a Christian and I am human and I do not rely fully on human understanding. I use my brain. I research, I look at research of others too (from different perspectives) and weigh it against the bible.
There are times this means that my beliefs in something’s (although not the fundamentals) differ a little to somebody else’s.
This happens with in churches too. There are still some churches that do not believe in having women in leadership. Others have fully embraced women. These kind of differences aren’t ones that make one church less Christian than the other.
The same goes for things like speaking in tougues. Some churches whole heartedly embrace this and people are allowed to speak out in tongues during their services, other churches are more rigid and speaking in tongues there would seem out of place. Neither view would lead to people accusing the other of not being Christian.
If you go back some years though, it might have done. A women speaking in church, let alone leading, would have been unheard of. If a church had embraced it then, accusations would have flown.
The reason? Culture of the times and conditioning.
It was felt so important to stick to this at the time, because the view had been so engrained into them. Not putting importance on it would have seemed impossible. People were conditioned to think that way because they believed any other way would have been totally sinful.
Times changed. People realised culture had a big part to play. Some felt that maybe that wasn’t what Paul had even been driving at, so eventually people relaxed.
I realise this battle is still on going. I realise there are still different view points, but people aren’t so willing now to accuse people holding opposite beliefs in this regard of not being Christian. It is recognised instead as a differing of theology. Nothing more.
I firmly believe that one day the same will be said for those of us who believe that you can both be Gay and Christian. Right now it seems huge, to some it seems impossible that we will ever be able to just put it down to a simple difference in theology, but that is all it is.
I’m sure as times and culture changes even more over maybe the next 100 years, or maybe not even quite that long, there will be other issues come up that will be argued about. Most likely things that if they came up right now, all of us would be shocked. Myself included. But culture changes and as it does our view point does too.
We need to stay focused on the gospel. We need to stay focused on the love of Jesus and we need to stay focused on the true criteria of what it means to be Christian.
We are not all seeing, we are not all knowing and we cannot read the hearts of others. God can.
Never forget the “who so ever” Jesus didn’t limit.