In Jesus we are offered an unconditional loving relationship with God. An actual relationship. Yet we can unknowingly trade it in and settle for a ‘tick sheet of beliefs’. Being saved by faith is so different, yet we can forget this. But it’s so relational, so incredible, we can’t let ourselves think it’s the same thing.
I remember going to an evangelism day at my old church. It was all about how to share the Gospel more with people around us, friends, family, colleagues, etc.
I’m always keen to learn more. This sort of thing never came naturally to me, but I love God and I want people to know him. So I went along ready to hear about how to share my faith better.
On the day though, it didn’t feel right. My issue was that all the teaching came down to telling people to come along to church. It was about inviting people along on a Sunday. This idea never sat well with me.
The goal is surely to connect people with Jesus
Now, I’m all for church and inviting people along, but the goal is surely to connect people with Jesus. If they find God and go to a different church, that’s great. I’m not trying to sell my brand of Christianity/church, it should be about introducing people to the living God.
Without going into all the details, it felt like we were being told to sell ‘our church’ first and foremost. When they came to our church, signed up to our style and our set of beliefs, then they were sorted. So sell your church and your ‘list of beliefs’.
Selling Something Different
As I’ve reflected on this over the years I’ve been more convinced that this is missing the mark. Mainly because we aren’t saved by belief, but we are saved by faith. Faith is what saves us, faith in Jesus.
Jesus is a person, a living being who is God. His death and resurrection is what restores and transforms. It’s a relationship with him that saves.
This is where an important distinction needs to be made. A set of beliefs cannot save us. Ticking the ‘agree box’ for a specific style of worship, leadership, Biblical interpretation, creation v evolution, etc., won’t save us. It’s only through a relationship with God.
My theology and my beliefs aren’t able to save me or anyone
Even though I love theology and wrestling with big questions, teaching others, learning more, and working out how it all impacts our lives, my theology and my beliefs aren’t able to save me or anyone else. (Read The Four Words Spoken By Jesus You Need To Hear.)
Faith Is Different
Being saved by faith is different.
It’s about relating to God and knowing him and the sacrifice he made. But, there are Christians who have different beliefs to us in some areas. They wouldn’t agree with how we understand bits of the Bible and Christianity. Yet they’re just as saved as we are.
A relationship with God is what saves, not a relationship with a list of beliefs
I’m not saying what we believe doesn’t matter. I’m not saying thinking about what we believe isn’t important. But a relationship with God is what saves, not a relationship with a list of beliefs.
It really is amazing when you think about it. A God who is perfect and bigger than we could imagine wants us to draw close to him. Not take a test to earn his love, or fulfil a list of demands to gain his love, but to build a relationship with him. (Read The Cross Deals With More Than Just Forgiveness, Right?)
We’re saved by faith in him. It’s incredible, and it should lead us to want to build a stronger relationship with him, and not just think through what we believe and then forget to relate to him.
Imagine if we really did remember that Christianity is profoundly relational. That in God we find the ultimate loving relationship that can help guide and transform all of our other relationships.
What we believe is important, but having faith in Jesus is the starting point and the foundation.
Do you think Christians can unintentionally place their faith in a belief system rather than Jesus? Comments welcomed below.
Originally posted 6/11/2017