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.

5 Responses to “Being Christian”

  1. Keith says:

    Have hesitated GREATLY from responding to this post. I do so humbly… I do not any longer argue with others regarding Christianity…so please don’t view this as an argument.

    How can Salvation be separate from acknowledging Jesus?

    Evil in the Last Days
    1This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. 2For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, 4Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; 5Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. 6For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, 7Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. 8Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith. 9But they shall proceed no further: for their folly shall be manifest unto all men, as theirs also was.

    All Scripture is God-Breathed
    10But thou hast fully known my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, charity, patience, 11Persecutions, afflictions, which came unto me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra; what persecutions I endured: but out of them all the Lord delivered me. 12Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. 13But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived. 14But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; 15And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. 16All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.

  2. Keith says:

    Just getting on the same page. You said Jesus said there are many paths.

    The Narrow and Wide Gates

    13“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.

  3. Jeff Beamsley says:

    Just getting on the same page. You said Jesus said there are many paths.

    The Narrow and Wide Gates

    13“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.

    As you said, it is difficult to argue religion.

    My statement regarding salvation is based on my reading of the bible.

    2 In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. John 14:2

    And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven. Matt 8:11

    But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed. James 1:25

    And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats:
    33 And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.
    34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:
    35 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:
    36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Matt 25:23-36

    34 Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: 35 But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him. Acts 34-35

    I believe John when he says that God is Love. I believe that a loving God created everyone in His image and likeness, not just those who have chosen to be Christians. I also believe that the “perfect law of liberty” is available to everyone regardless of their religion. That perfect law of liberty is to love God and love your neighbor as yourself. You don’t have to be a Christian. You only have to be a “doer of the work” to be blessed. That blessing is the opportunity to walk in the narrow way that Jesus described.

    In the early church, it was thought that only Jews could be followers of Christ. Paul disabused this notion and recognized that ANYONE could make it to heaven if the loved God and did good deeds.

    I see no reason to think about any other way now.

  4. Keith says:

    The Bible points to Jesus as Lord and Savior. It says it is by grace we are saved, not works. How we are saved by doing the works of Jesus but not bowing our knee to Him, I’m not sure. Doing His works without calling on him for the forgiveness or our sins, the “repent part” seems missing. So, why the need for the presious Savior? Further, why did He go to the cross and raise again if all He wanted was for us to love our niebor as ourselves?

    Can I be a Muslim or Jew who rejects Jesus as Savor but loves his niebor as himself and spend eternity in Heaven. Jesus said He was the way, the truth and the light and no one comes to the Father but by Him.

    Jesus either is who He said He was or He was a kook.

    I have many questions about the verses you site. Here’s one. Are you suggesting “many mansions” to mean many faiths?

  5. Jeff Beamsley says:

    The Bible points to Jesus as Lord and Savior. It says it is by grace we are saved, not works. How we are saved by doing the works of Jesus but not bowing our knee to Him, I’m not sure. Doing His works without calling on him for the forgiveness or our sins, the “repent part” seems missing. So, why the need for the presious Savior? Further, why did He go to the cross and raise again if all He wanted was for us to love our niebor as ourselves?

    I am not going to comment on your faith.

    You are free to choose which parts of the Bible you will take seriously and which parts you ignore.

    I believe, as James says, that faith without works is dead. That seems pretty clear to me. But that doesn’t mean that works alone are sufficient because that suggests the arrogance of the pharisees. They viewed themselves as pious because of their slavish obedience to Jewish practices. But they lacked humility and compassion. IMHO, that’s where grace enters the picture. It’s a recognition that we simply can’t figure this out ourselves. Instead we need to turn our lives (self-will) over to our creator who promises to bless us abundantly when we are in harmony with HIS plan. Then we have to follow the leadings of truth.

    So in my mind it is grace AND good works. Jesus said that we had to follow him, that is more than just a simple acknowledgment of our need of salvation. When Jesus recruited the disciples, he expected them to give up their lives as fishermen. It wasn’t that fishing was sinful, it just wasn’t what they were called to do. Grace is what made them receptive to Jesus call, but it was their willingness to leave their old life behind and head off in a completely new direction that made them changed men. He told them that they had to go and do likewise. He healed. They had to heal. He forgave sins. They had to forgive sins. He preached the good word. They had to do the same.

    Jesus said he is the way shower. He embodied the Christ – God’s word come to man. He came to raise our understanding of our relationship with our creator. His message is that God is present here an now – a very present help in trouble. He died on the cross to show us that even death has no hold on us because it had no hold on him. That was the real redemption. Our “sin” is the temptation to believe that there is some power opposed to God, or worse yet that life is brief and painful and then you die because there is no God. Jesus overcoming death showed both his obedience as well as his trust that God does have plan for man. That death does not have the last word, and we have an opportunity to engage with God during our life on this plane and after it too. That’s why he left us two great commandments (you left one out), Love God and love your neighbor as yourself. Trust that God will keep His promise to each of us (faith), listen humbly for His direction (grace), and demonstrate your love of God (whom we can’t see) by treating all of His children (whom we can see) with as much love as we can muster.

    Can I be a Muslim or Jew who rejects Jesus as Savor but loves his niebor as himself and spend eternity in Heaven. Jesus said He was the way, the truth and the light and no one comes to the Father but by Him.

    Again, I can’t speak to your faith. But I can answer this question from my perspective.

    Christianity as a religion was created by the followers of Jesus. Jesus never said go out and create a great new religion and call it Christianity. When he told Peter, upon this rock I will build my church, what he meant IMHO was that Peter’s insight that Jesus was the Christ was the fundamental message that the world needed to hear. In fact He rejected all suggestions that He had any political motives. He did say to preach the good news that God is present in the lives of everyone, that He is a loving God, and that this message of love (the Christ) was personified in the life of Jesus.

    As I had mentioned before, most of the disciples felt that the Jews were the only ones prepared to hear this message. That was because they felt that Jews were the chosen people for whom this message was intended. It took Paul to prove that this message resonated with everyone who was prepared to hear it. You didn’t need to know anything about the Bible or Jewish history or the Ten Commandments or Jewish kosher practices or the temple. How much more of a stretch is it to suggest that this is still true today?

    Jesus did remark that the person with the greatest faith was not a Jew. In fact he was a Roman Centurion who believed that Jesus could heal by prayer alone. The faith was justified in the healing of his daughter.

    I don’t believe that a loving God who made everyone in His image and likeness would give Christians some exclusivity with regard to eternal life. I believe that everyone (regardless of religion) has a still small voice that speaks to them. Whether or not they recognize this voice as God is up to them. Those that listen to the voice and follow where it leads will learn what it means to love God and love God’s creation. In other words, I believe that is possible to follow Jesus teachings without having any knowledge of who Jesus was. That’s what I think Jesus meant when he talked about truth, light, and the way of salvation. So I ask you a similar question. If I love God, and follow the principles that Jesus taught, and see those principles as guiding and enlightening my life, and as a result I love my neighbor as myself, but I never read the Bible and have no idea who Jesus was – what sort of reception am I going to receive from God when I die? My sense is that this person will be treated as a good and faithful servant and welcomed to an eternal blissful life.

    Jesus either is who He said He was or He was a kook.

    Jesus is who HE said he is. Not necessarily who YOU say he is. But it is not my job to tell you what to think. It is only my job to admonish you as someone that I care about, that you continue to seek truth righteously and the God of truth will bless you with understanding and direction. IMHO, it IS about the works that Jesus laid out. The faith and grace is being willing to DO those things even when it seems as though they go against whatever other beliefs you may hold. I visited someone who used to work for me who was imprisoned because he was caught in a sting operation propositioning an underage girl. I took a lot of heat for that from a lot of people. I’m not sure if I helped him at all. But that’s not what Jesus said. He just said that you need to visit those who are imprisoned. So that’s what I do when I feel called to do it. I do also pray to know that the person that God made is still in there somewhere.

    I have many questions about the verses you site. Here’s one. Are you suggesting “many mansions” to mean many faiths?

    I don’t believe that God cares about “faiths” any more than He cares about political parties or sports teams. My sense of “many mansions” is that there are MANY ways to get to heaven. God has a plan JUST FOR YOU. He has built a place set aside in heaven JUST FOR YOU. You don’t get there by following what somebody else tells you is their plan. You get there by listening to God and following HIS plan. BTW, the way that you can have some confidence that you’re on the right path is because you will be presented with all sorts of the opportunities to demonstrate that you love God and love your neighbor as yourself. Each one of these is an opportunity for you to grow in faith and deepen your understanding of your relationship to your creator.

    In my own experience, even when I fail, I ALWAYS get another chance. The next time around, I often find myself on the other side of the situation that I messed up the last time. That makes it even easier to figure out why the other person did what they did, because now I’m that other person. I get to work through the whole thing again with a much better insight into how my actions are going affect the other person because I WAS that other person the last time around. You would be amazed at how effective those experiences are at washing away past memories of injustice or hurt feelings.

Leave a Reply