Sunday, May 8, 2011

Intellectual Knowledge vs. Relational Trust

In some sense I don't think it does matter what I believe. It does matter who I trust. If you as my friend have some wrong information about me that doesn't mean I will disown you. Neither will Jesus disown those who trust Him if they are wrong concerning facts about Him. God values our relationship with Him more than us knowing a checklist of facts about Him. The Holy Spirit will lead God's children to all truth. Of course it is better to know the truth (facts) about the Truth (Jesus) but we should never let what we believe cause us to be less loving towards others.

There are only a handful of  falsehoods that disqualify someone from being able to know Christ. The bible says in various ways that whoever trusts in Jesus will have eternal life and Jesus defines eternal life as knowing The Father and The Son. Jesus came first to the Jews so they had some idea of who He was. Still Jesus nor the apostles handed out a written test to see if someone could earn grace by their knowledge of God.

Trusting Christ is the qualification. Jesus said that the will of the Father is to trust in the Son. Jesus even once answered the question "What should we do that we might do the works of God?" by saying, "This is the work of God that you trust in Jesus Christ whom God sent." The very work of God is trusting in Jesus! I would hate to have to take a works based or knowledge based test to earn grace from God.

We can only know the real Christ through the spirit not through doctrines and facts. Paul said, "For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified." Falsehood is terrible but none of us know God fully and all of us are wrong about Him in some way at least in the sense that we don't know Him fully yet.

Focus:  Essential Doctrines or Essential Person?
I guess the question for those who push essential doctrines is, "Is it more wrong to be mistaken about Jesus or to be ignorant about Jesus?" Truth is very important to live and grow by but I think God examines the heart far more than the head when it comes to salvation. Did the thief on the cross know that Jesus was born of a virgin?

The facts/truth about Jesus does not replace knowing Jesus spiritually as the basis of whether someone is a Christian or not. We can know the right things without knowing God. The right things are very important but not as important as the right One, Jesus. You could know a lot about me but if you've never encountered me in your life then you don't really know me at all.

How do we define what is essential? If someone trusts Christ in their life but gets even one of these "essentials" wrong or is ignorant of one of them does that mean they are not a Christian? This mindset is similar to being saved by works but instead of a checklist of deeds to do it is a checklist of facts to believe.

Those who push for essential doctrines as the basis of unity are really looking for a non-relational agreement between entities (church institutions, denominations, organizations). Our focus should be on the essential person of Jesus. We can "believe" all of the essential doctrines and not know the essential person of Jesus Christ. You can have all the essential ingredients of a pie but if no one makes the pie out of those ingredients having "the essentials" doesn't mean squat. Belief in doctrines doesn't produce salvation, trust in Christ does.

There is a grave danger in a "gospel of doctrines" that says "if you consider this list of things to be true then you know God." To expose that absurdity here is a comparative saying, "If you believe these 3 facts about George Washington then he is your best friend."

Agreeing vs. Loving
We look so hard at "who is Christian and who is not" & "who is wrong and who is right." We are so preoccupied with 'Christianity at large,' the 'church in America,' and tons of people we have never and will never meet. The only thing we should be looking for is "Who does Christ want to love through me today? How do I follow the Spirit of God in me today so that I may love whoever God puts in my path today?"

I'm not talking about compromising the truth but I don't think every occasion a falsehood comes up is my opportunity to correct someone. Jesus withheld truth from people. It was in His wisdom. We are in Christ just as Christ is in the Father so we can determine when to do this too. We should "accept one another as Christ has accepted us." That means, like Jesus, we meet people where they are. It means we humbly understand that no one has it all figured out despite our systematic theologies.

God wins people by His love. One way of loving is telling people the truth about God but you don't have to "have it right" or even accept my words about God for me to love you,  whether you are a Christian or not. If the truth (facts) causes us to love someone less then we are not following The Truth (Christ).

If I'm more concerned about someone agreeing with me about facts than I am about enjoying the Father with them then I have a problem. We don't need to get our facts\truth straight we need to get our faith\trust straight. God will get us to the facts in His wise timing if we go to Him in faith.

It is the same thing when Paul said, "For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified." At first glance that doesn't sound like much but Jesus is the illimitable God and He is all we need to know. In the Truth there are all the many little truths that God desires we know.

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