DO I HAVE TO BE A CHRISTIAN?
“God is great! It is his fan club that bothers me!”
Let’s suppose I have come to a reasonable conclusion that if there is a creator then the best way to live this life is in harmony with my creator. Let’s suppose that I recognize that if there is a creator it actually would be the worst thing in life to miss the opportunity to know it. And let’s suppose that even though it is not provable it is reasonable to believe the story of Jesus including his resurrection from the dead. That even though I have serious doubts, and in spite of all the religious insanity in the world, I believe it is possible that the man Jesus is my connection to our Creator. Would I have to be a Christian?
I mean really, take a look at Christianity in America. Christians have the reputation as being, arrogant, self righteous, angry, violent, materialistic, greedy people who don’t care much for people outside their own group. And I could go on, right? Why would I want to?
I can only speak for myself. I often say that I am not a Christian, but I am a follower of Jesus. I am not denying Jesus but I am trying to clarify my beliefs. I believe that truly following Jesus is not conformity to a majority view; not assuming the values of others; not even self conformity to a preconceived view of God. But Jesus does say that his spirit in me will transform me to reflect his character; that I will find true freedom and individual identity in my God given identity. I have found my greatest freedom from human religious expectation when trusting and obeying God. By truly trusting in God’s authority I am free from human religious standards. As Christianity can potentially be a very restrictive conformity system it also can be liberating to those who keep centered on God.
If God could be bought out by joining a religion, even the Christian religion, then Jesus wasted his time/life for nothing. Jesus does not say that we must join a religion. Jesus said to a religious man who already belonged to the “true religion”, the Jews, “You must be born again”. And this being born again is like the wind that comes from God, not our self effort. So I could not make myself into a Christian even if I wanted. The spiritual paradox we all face is that we humans create religion but our Creator desires faith/relationship.
God extends himself to all people of all cultures. God’s Holy Spirit dwells with and reveals Himself to all people around the globe, “The Spirit of God is hovering over the face of the earth” This Spirit seeks a responsive heart but refuses the proud heart, “blasphemy of the Spirit” (Matthew 12:31, 32). Jesus says that the way is narrow but also that if we ask and seek He will show himself to us (Matt. 7). And because God does reveal Himself to us, we must respond. This is the verdict: Light (Jesus) has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light” (John 3:17-19). Our personal response to God as He reveals himself is quite different than joining a religion.