Being Christian

via GIPHY

In simplest terms, being Christian means following the teachings of Christ.

From there, it is all about faith, honesty, and humility.

In that regard, I feel that I can only talk about my own belief.

That belief is that there is only one God. That God is all powerful, all knowing, all loving, infinite, and spiritual. The Christ is His message (His son) to His creation (us).

We all reflect our Creator to the degree that we embody that Christ message of love, obedience, humility, generosity, honesty, and spirituality.

Jesus was the perfect embodiment of the Christ. He came to show us the way we can better understand who we really are through deeper understanding of our infinite Creator.

Even though God gave Moses Ten Commandments, they were delivered in the context of what those people could understand – judgement and punishment. They were emerging from a long period of slavery, oppression, and religious persecution. This was a might makes right world. All those around them tried to make sense of their dangerous brutal world by imagining a set of brutal, vengeful, capricious gods who were also in constant conflict. Why wouldn’t the world be chaotic if those in charge of it were also locked in a constant struggle for dominance?

Jesus effectively rewrote the Old Testament by reducing the Ten Commandments to just two – Love God and love your neighbor as yourself.

The life of Jesus documented in the New Testament was one of upending common wisdom regarding the role of the promised Messiah. It was rebuking the political and cultural roles of those who controlled the Jewish temple. He regularly pointed out the hypocrisy of those who felt that material success was evidence of God’s favor. By implication, those who had struggles must have done something to deserve their condition. He also rejected the whole Jewish concept that because they were a chosen people, they were inherently better than anyone else who didn’t share their beliefs.

His teachings then and now are a radical. We are told to love our enemies and do good to those to treat us badly. That’s in direct opposition to the Old Testament “eye for an eye” revenge culture.

Instead of revenge, Jesus told that God is our only judge. He also warned us that God will judge us harshly if we fail to show compassion to the poor, help the sick, visit those in prison, welcome the stranger, and provide food and drink to those who are hungry and thirsty.

We are told that it is our responsibility to focus all of our attention on our own salvation because it is not assured. Any time that we spend in selfish, hard hearted, or mean spirited endeavors puts that salvation at risk.

Jesus threw those who had attempted to profit from piety out of the temple and called them thieves.

Given all this, why would anyone who truly understood what it means to be a Christian question the faith of someone else?

Why would anyone who had read the Bible and turned their life over to God, for a moment suggest that they know how God would judge someone else FOR ANYTHING?

How could anyone condemn another as a sinner? Jesus told us that this was the height of folly. In no uncertain terms he told us that if we have any issue with anyone, we have to resolve that issue BEFORE we can honestly continue our own journey toward holiness.

There is only one way to resolve the issue of condemning someone else as a sinner. That is to admit your own hubris in making that statement and humbly seek forgiveness from God and those that may have been wronged. Jesus said as much in the story about the Pharisee and the tax collector.

How could anyone who truly understands Jesus teachings suggest that theirs is the ONLY path toward salvation? How could someone really know that those who choose a different path will without question be punished for their choice?

Jesus did say that He is the only way to get to heaven. He did not say that Christians are the only ones who get into heaven. What He did say is that you should follow him. What that means to me is follow His teachings. That’s what following Him in “deed and truth”, means to me. Those teachings contain universal truths that are present in many religions. So I believe that it is entirely possible to follow the teachings of Jesus and not be a Christian.

Whether it is the woman at the well, or the woman who washed Jesus feet, or Jesus eating with the publican, or Jesus healing the servant of the Centurion, the message is clear. No one is separated from the love of God. Goodness and Godliness are not associated with any particular religion. They are attributes that everything and everyone in God’s creation share.

Jesus told us that there were many paths to heaven.

We only have to worry about ours.

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