THE TAKE AWAY
What you don't need to believe to become a Christian
By Kersley Fitzgerald
I knew a guy who became a Christian because of a math formula. I can't remember the specifics. He was writing a paper on an unsolvable problem, or something, and through that came to the realization there was a God.
Another guy I know became a Christian because of DNA.
A lot of people who come to Christ as an adult seem to do so because Christianity best explains some mystery they've been struggling with. That's pretty cool, and we have lots of apologetics articles to help.
But a lot of other people reject Christianity because it doesn't seem to fit what they see in the world. That's understandable. It would be like someone from Kansas seeing a houseboat for the first time. The context is so outside of their experience that it doesn't compute.
You don't have to understand (or even believe in) houseboats in order to be a productive member of society. In a similar way, there are many things you don't have to believe in order to become a Christian.
Things like creation/young earth, the death penalty, traditional marriage, the inherent evilness of humans, organized religion, Calvinism...
There are also things you don't have to be in order to become a Christian, like sober, straight, conservative, honest, giving, Duck Dynasty fans, sexually pure, Republican, integrity-filled, perfect...
Not that those things have ever been synonymous.
The truth is, Christians come in a wide array of beliefs and characteristics. They may believe in creation/young earth, evolution/old earth, creation/old earth, the death penalty, sanctity of life, abortion, traditional marriage, gay marriage, the inherent evilness of humans, Tabula Rasa, organized religion, unorganized spirituality, Calvinism, Arminianism, Calminianism...
And Christians may be different things, like sober, addicted, straight, gay, conservative, liberal, honest, liars, giving, stingy, Duck Dynasty fans, Finding Bigfoot fans, sexually pure, promiscuous, Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, politically apathetic, integrity-filled, the world's biggest hypocrite...
One thing Christians are not is perfect. In fact, recognizing that you're not perfect and God is, is the first step in the Christian journey. You know some of your actions and beliefs are wrong; when you trust God is right, He can reveal to you what is good and true.
Let's say you've examined the evidence and realized we could not have gotten here without a god stirring the cosmic pot. You're next question is probably "What is this god like?" World religions offer lots of options. Several gods? One? Cosmic force?
The parallel question is "What is my relationship to this god? What does He/she/they/it want from me?" Again with the options. Become one with the universe? Do good works? Kill yourself in a terrorist act? Don't eat meat?
Here's where Christianity is different. First, it recognizes that nobody's perfect. People try to pretend that bad stuff is on some kind of continuum, but in the end, we've all done one unkind thing in our lives. Or a million. Second, Christianity recognizes that if a perfect God exists, there's nothing imperfect people can do to connect with Him. Which means He has to do the work. Which means He has to want to have a relationship with us enough that He's willing to do the work.
That's the God of Christianity. He takes people who are really not perfect and who really don't understand too much of what's going on and says, If you want, I'll add an after-market upgrade so that we can talk despite your imperfections—so from My end you have no imperfections—and then we can have a relationship where I'll teach you some stuff. Some of it you'll get; some of it you won't. The more you get, the more you'll understand what I'm trying to say, but nothing will break our interface. And, by the way, nobody gets all of it.
What do you have to believe to get that upgrade? Just the basics. Just the stuff to get the interface hooked up. Like God sent His Son, Jesus, to die for our sins. He was crucified, buried, and rose again. Accepting that sacrifice is what is necessary for us to have that relationship with God. Now we get the interface—the Holy Spirit—Who is God and teaches us stuff.
Some of that stuff we'll accept, and some we won't. This is broad—worldwide. Take the most learned theologian, and he will not have everything right. He doesn't have to. In order to be saved, he has to have the basics. In order to keep the lines of communication open, he has to admit that he's not perfect, God is, and only God has a handle on everything.
You don't have to believe everything Christians say in order to accept that Jesus loves you.
You don't have to be perfect—or even close to perfect—in order to have a right relationship with God.
You can't be perfect and you can't know all the true things in order to be a Christian because not even the most mature Christians does!
Does that take some of the pressure off?
What you should believe is that humans, in our imperfect state, do not have it all figured out. The God of the universe, Who created us and our operating system, does. Therefore, what He tells us is truth. And we have the rest of our lives to discover, with humility, more of that truth than we understand now.
The question is, do you want it? Do you accept that you can't get this life right on your own, and you want the One Who created you to first of all save you and second of all teach you what you're missing and where to go from here?
If so, tell Him. (Not that the words are necessary, but that the words help express the thought that accompanies the change in your point of view.)
For example, you can say,
God, I can't get this life right. You created me to live one way, and I've gone my own way, which is sin. Thank You for sending Jesus to take that sin away; I accept His sacrifice on my behalf. I trust that He can set me right with You. Please set my relationship with You right, and help me accept Your truth about me, You, and the world.If this is what your heart desires, and you accept Jesus' (God and the Son of God) sacrifice to straighten your relationship with God, you're a Christian. That's it. The rest is frosting. But the frosting is good stuff, too. Click the link below to continue learning about God's point of view and how you can get to know Him better.
Image Credit: *BlueMoon; "believe"; Creative Commons
Tags: Biblical-Truth | Christian-Life | Controversial-Issues | Theological-Beliefs
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Published 12-16-14; Edited for clarity 12-30-14