I love my husband. Some of my favorite things about him are his green eyes, his blonde hair, and I especially love that his favorite football team is the Florida State Seminoles.
And that would great and lovely if I had actually described my husband.
Anyone that knows my husband well enough knows that he has brown eyes, brown hair (with a bit of red in his beard), and calling him a Noles fan is borderline heresy (because he’s actually a very passionate Miami Hurricanes fan).
The truth is this: we can’t claim to love someone if we don’t see them for who they really are.
And yet, many of us do this with GOD.
I was recently talking about theology with a friend of mine. At one point, they asked “why are you so passionate about doctrines and theology?”. I’ll admit, I used to obsess over doctrine, but I still have a love of learning what is true about God and what isn’t.
I answered them simply: “I love learning about God because I love God. How can I claim to love Him if I don’t desire to learn more about Him? If I love a ‘fake’ version of Him, I’m not loving Him at all.”
If you believe God is always angry and is just waiting to punish you when you mess up, you’re not worshipping the God of the Bible. You’re worshipping a distorted version of Him.
The same goes for those who believe God doesn’t care about sin and that “all roads lead to Heaven”. The God of the Bible has told us this just isn’t so, and worshiping that god is also worshipping a fake god.
The Bible is clear in John 14:15. “If you love me, you will keep my commands.“
But how can we keep commands we do not know? How will we know unless we read the Bible and study His Word? And when we’re told something is God’s Word and God’s will, how will we know it’s true unless we seek out that answer ourselves?
There are debatable things (and many doctrines fall into this category), but then there are the core tenants. They are the very doctrines that define the essence of what it means to say “I follow Jesus Christ”. (A great place to start, other that the Bible, is the Apostles’ Creed or Nicene Creed).
For example, we would differ with Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons on doctrines outlined in those creeds, but as a Christian who is Reformed, I can shake hands with someone who does not believe in the Doctrine of Election and call them my brother or sister in Christ nonetheless.
I’ve often mentioned that when I first was saved in 2010, I looked at my Bible and promised myself to read it with “fresh eyes”. I approached the Bible as if I had never read it before, because I knew I couldn’t trust what I learned growing up. I had to relearn everything.
Because I had seen certain things abused in Church, like “spiritual gifts”, I went too far and threw them out for many years. I only recently changed my stance to believe in the gifts (which is called “continuationism”) after I learned a pastor I looked up to, one I have been listening to for over five years, believed in the continuation of the spiritual gifts.
And look…I enjoy talking about these things. I am certainly no scholar, but I do love learning. I would love to write about these things and give my opinions, but at the end of the day, my opinions aren’t what matter.
The Word of God, the Bible, matters.
Ask yourself this: How well do I really know this book? How well do I really know God? Do I believe what I believe because I’ve read the Bible and found it all to be true? Or do I believe it because that’s what my parents/grandparents taught me?
The Word of God can stand on it’s own. All of us have been given access to God. There are no “special Christians” with exclusive access to God. We can all pray. We can all read His Word.
While it is wise to learn from pastors and teachers who have spent years studying, who can read the original Hebrew and Greek, and who have learned from wiser men and women than themselves, we all can ask God for understanding ourselves.
I have heard this said many times and I feel it’s worth mentioning here.
“The Bible was written over a span of 1600 years, across three continents, by over 40 different authors, in three different languages, and yet, it has one common theme: The glory of God in the salvation of humankind.“
How well do YOU know God?
If you don’t typically read the Bible, I challenge you to find out how well you know God. Pick up a Bible and start in the Book of John to find out. You might come to find, like I did, that many of the things I was taught growing up were not in the Bible at all.
And for my brothers and sisters in Christ, we will always disagree on something…and that’s okay. At the end of it all, we will all be rejoicing together with Christ (Democrats & Republicans, Calvinists & Armenians, Cessationists and Continuists, Complementarians & Egalitarians, etc). You’re going to be worshipping Christ alongside people you disagreed with on Earth for the rest of eternity.
Might as well extend the olive branch now and love them, despite the disagreement.
Grace & Peace,