It can be easy for us Christians to rest in our piety… insisting that our interpretation of Scripture is the only “true” one. We flail about with our our voices shrieking like nails on a chalkboard as society changes. But I find myself wondering if our myriad of contradictory opinions matter to God or make a difference. Our Christian opinions are silently echoing back at the church, while others—the people who don’t believe or who have given up on church—quietly ignore us.
The world around us marches toward certain doom and destruction while those in spiritual anarchy secure themselves behind church doors certain that they are right about who God is, what Scripture means and that their world view is God’s world view. While we debate our theological differences, fully convinced that all others are wrong, we fail to live the core command of the New Testament.
This kind of religion assumes that faith is exclusive to a certain few who agree with them — but what if they are dead wrong — about those unlike them? About their personal theology of man, God and Christ? About how their personal preferences or traditions are not the same as biblical morality?
What if God is bigger than religion – outside of doctrine? By the way, I believe God’s nature truly does transcend organized theology, religion and doctrine while at the same time connecting with people through it.
Even when confronted with the knowledge that our presumptions are inaccurate, we strive only to win the argument at all costs. We must win to hold on to our faith and prove to ourselves that our belief system is right. By God’s name in heaven, we have a need to prove that we are and were always right! The problem with this line of thinking is that it creates a we-them mentality and it’s very difficult for an outsider to join our community unless they conform to our likes and dislikes regarding faith and religion.
Consider that many of the things we hold onto are not biblical at all, but merely personal preference for how to “do” church — and fear that it will not be the same tomorrow or next year and we, ourselves, will be the outsiders.
But what if we could separate the traditions from the core truths of faith? What do we all agree is true about Christianity — that Jesus is God, that he was present at creation, that he became a man to atone for mankind’s sins and that one merely confess faith in Jesus as one part of the Trinitarian Godhead. Could we accept that change in tradition is normative for Christianity, churches and life. Tradition does not equal salvation. Only acceptance of the Lordship of Jesus Christ delivers salvation and true life.
So rest quietly in your faith or tradition. Or screech until your lungs burn and your head aches when traditions change and evolve with each new generation. It matters not. It’s your choice. You can be a part of the thriving, changing Kingdom of God or you can sit idle and hope everyone eventually understands your personal point of view.
But my personal preference is to speak a message of hope and restoration — a message desperately craved by the world — the people on the outside who wonder why these followers of Christ split hairs over theological differences, why their churches keep splitting and forming new ones, why we can’t get along with each other when our God and founder, Jesus Christ, clearly stated that they, the world, “will know you are my disciples” by the love you show to each other and the world.