Does Jesus love someone because they believe in a certain teaching or belong to a certain denomination of Christianity?
I’ve been thinking about my own Christian journey, one of lukewarm faith to dangerous zealousness–a zeal to my own detriment, mostly. I don’t want to become blinded by it, and sometimes I think I’m at risk of that.
I easily get worked up over bad teachings, and I really want to understand what true doctrine is and present it in a clear way, but I don’t want to lose sight of the most important things. Is doctrine the most important thing, or is living a Christian life most important? Of course the latter is most important, but there is some degree to which you cannot have one without the other.
When Jesus called me to him, I would have called myself a Baptist or maybe a non-denominational Christian. But, I did not go to church much. I had not been in several years, in fact. I was exploring New Age religion, trying to figure out a way to make it work with Christianity. I was watching a television preacher every day, and I was very confused by it all.
Prior to this, I believed all the traditional ideas. I believed in Jesus as the Son of God. I believed he died for my sins, and I made my declaration of faith and was baptized when I was about 9 years old. I believed that I was saved no matter what, and my sin was not a big deal because the grace of the Lord covered it. I did not even know how sinful I was. I was deceived into calling much evil good.
I believed that because I was “saved” I would go to heaven when I died instead of hell. Yet, I was living in my own kind of hell. A hell of anxiety, depression, addiction, and failure.
I called out to Jesus, and he answered. Did he answer me because I was a Baptist, Non-Denominational Christian, or a New Age Christian? Did he answer me because I had the right faith and set of doctrines? No. He answered me because I am his, and it is the same for all who belong to the Lord.
Did I belong to Jesus before I became very zealous for the faith? I look back to my childhood and I know the Lord was with me. I was very serious about Jesus as a kid, then I got off track during teen and early adult years. Yet, now I would say that the Jesus I once believed in is not the same Jesus I believe in today. The gospel I believed in is not the same one I believe today either. Well, that’s not entirely true. There are things that remain the same. It’s more like an expanding of belief, not one that totally voids the other.
Even so, many of the common teachings so corrupt the idea of the gospel and Jesus that I sometimes feel as if many worship an idol. How can this be?
How can I say that many out there are worshiping a false version of Jesus when I did the same thing for most of my life, and yet Jesus answered me? I’m trying to reconcile this within myself.
What makes someone a real Christian? How can there be seemingly different versions of Jesus out there, yet within these varying denominations there are fruitful Christians? Who really knows God? Who really knows Jesus? I want to know him, and I will keep looking. Most importantly though, we want the be known by him. That, I think is the key.
What makes any fruitful believer in Jesus different from the rest? There are fruitful Baptists, fruitful Pentecostals, fruitful Catholics, and I believe even those more controversial denominations like Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses have fruitful believers within them also. Are they fruitful because of their denominational title or doctrine, or is it simply because they belong to Jesus?
There are sincere, Jesus loving Christians all around the world and among all backgrounds and belief systems. Although there can only be one truth ultimately, and we should all strive to learn because understanding can help our Christian walk, what we believe does not determine our election. However, our election should affect what we believe. Yet, we disagree on so much. I wonder why that is. I don’t have the answer to that. I used to think it was because most Christians were fake, but I don’t feel that way anymore.
We can disagree on much, but if we love Jesus and we see the fruits of his love working in our life, then we demonstrate what is most important. Jesus knows who we are, and we belong to him.
I can get hung up on doctrines, especially teachings about the gospel, grace, and what the Christian faith means. Yet, I want it to be known that though we should strive to grow in the faith and in understanding, the things we understand or believe do not necessarily save us. We need to believe in Jesus, true. But, I wonder, about the details of that faith. How much is really required?
We are saved by grace (undeserved favor) of God through the faith in Jesus that the Father God gives us. Sometimes we have trouble having faith in the right teachings, but if we belong to God the love of Jesus will dwell within us, and we will grow in love towards others.
I’m not entirely sure why I do what I do here at KindlingTruth. I kind of go back and forth between this feeling of obligation, then considering that feeling as vanity then just doing the work for my own learning. There are other reasons too, but my confidence waxes and wanes. Either way, I’ve never been a quitter. So, I want to at least finish the article series’ that are planned. Beyond that, I don’t know. I’m starting to feel as if my own zeal has me blinded to something.
Over this process though, I end up having more questions than answers. It seems that way at least. One thing I’ve learned is that our salvation is totally dependent on the Lord, and whatever we need as part of that process he will provide, not because of what we believe, but because we belong to God. However, if we belong to the Lord, the faith we are given will work wonderful things in us. I can’t help but hate teachings that discourage that or seek to obtain growth through legalism.
Related Article: God’s Predetermined Will for the Election of His Children in Christ