In conversation with an unbelieving friend some years ago, Faye made this statement, “If God or Jesus are anything like most of the Christians I know, I want nothing to do with them.”
“In fact,” she added, “I could sit here and tell you that I don’t even believe God exists, except for one fluke. And in University I was taught that if there is even one fluke, then I cannot be sure.”
“What’s the fluke?” I asked.
“You and your husband.”
I was taken of guard, and certainly don’t share it here as a ‘pat on my own back’. Faye knows me well. She knows I sin–I’ve even sinned against her and have had to ask her for forgiveness. I’ve never presented anything of personal perfection–only forgiveness and grace through Jesus. Yes, I repent quickly when I realize I have sinned–thank you King David for being that example–but I definitely sin!
I asked her why we are ‘a fluke’ in her experience with Christians, since it obviously wasn’t our sinlessness that got her attention. Her answer influenced any evangelism I have done from that day forward.
“You always keep it simple and say the same thing, that it’s only through Jesus. Even when you were in the other church (meaning Mennonite) you always said that.” With a laugh she added, “It just came out sounding more warped back then.”
Faye still is not a believer and continues to be offended by the inconsistencies of Christians and how various denominations present their beliefs as ‘the only way’, or ‘the right way’, or ‘the best way’. That saddens me. However, I recognize that for some people that becomes an excuse to avoid dealing with their own sinful hearts. But that is not to say that we cannot learn from them and start presenting Jesus as the answer, without entangling denominational jargon into evangelism.
The Bible states very clearly that salvation is simply and only through the blood of Jesus. No religious performance, no amount of perfection, nothing at all can save us except for the blood of Jesus. Anything we do, is nothing more than a love offering back to God. (Read the book of Galatians as if you’ve never read it before. And ask the Holy Spirit to silence any voice except His.)
Many, in fact, most churches and leaders tangle personal interpretations or opinions into their teachings–usually whatever helps fulfil their particular agenda. If it’s money they want, it is money they will get, one way or another. If it is preserving culture they want, preserving culture is all they will get. If it is image they want, image they will get, one way or another. If it’s Jesus they want, they will lay aside agenda and Jesus they will get.
Amazingly, when He is the focus, Jesus will present us spotless before God–we won’t have to do it ourselves and maintain image–and God will provide finances for us to evangelize, and help the widows, the fatherless and the suffering. Outstanding! God actually wants to do these things if we let Him!
Jesus says, “I am the Way. No one comes to the Father except by me.” He doesn’t add, “And oh, by the way, here’s the list of maintenance items, because I can only save you, I can’t keep you. That’s your problem. Keep this list in your pocket and mind that you don’t mess up.”
To the contrary, Jesus says that if we try to get into God’s Kingdom any other way, we will miss out. (John 10:1-21)
There are no additional requirements for salvation. There is no fine print. The only thing that can separate me from God is a deliberate turning from Him and choosing to serve Satan and sin.
Let Jesus be THE Way, without any competition from your belief systems. Invite Him to be the Lord of your beliefs, doctrines and cultural practices. He is Truth, and the Truth will make you free. And that freedom is contagious!
© Trudy Metzger 2012
Go to first post in this series: http://trudymetzger.com/2012/05/22/spiritual-abuse-introduction/