Written By: Ryan Walters
“I personally don’t think Jesus ever came to start Christianity.”
Those words came from a friend of mine in recent weeks, and I have not been able to let them go since. It’s rather thought-provoking for a follower of Jesus, wouldn’t you say? Are we slaves in debt to a religion or a Person? Well, who saved you? Who rescued you? Gave the final word & performed the final deed that would liberate every soul from bondage? Every spirit from eternal peril. Did a religion do that for you?
Was and is your salvation story the culmination of scripture readings, law-adherence, and liturgical practices? Or is it the story of receiving deliverance from decay? Given a second chance through faith that makes you right before God?
Religion is only a temporary fix. It may wash away the filth of how you are viewed from the outside,
but the Savior of the world is who washes away that which lives on beyond final breath: the inside. This Hero of Hearts. He is the eternal answer.
I think my friend was onto something. A diagram that he once drew is also lodged in my mind somewhere. Visualize several concentric circles. In the bulls-eye you have Jesus. Makes sense as He should be the center of His follower’s faith. He’s the Anchor. The firm foundation of the House that will not be shaken. He is the Beginning and the End. This world was not introduced with Christianity, and as it goes out with a bang it will surely not conclude with Christianity either.
Outside the bulls-eye, you have dogma. Tenets of faith in Jesus. A set of valued inerrant truths with authority given by the inspired Word of the Lord. Examples of Christian dogma would include the Trinity defined as Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Or the deity of Jesus Himself.
Moving outward beyond the circle of dogma, we arrive at doctrine. Followers of Jesus have almost too much fun fooling around at the expense of doctrine. Some weigh it out far too conservatively, completely missing the point of freedom that Christ died for. These are your “alcohol, tattoos, and secular music (whatever the heck that even means) are inherently evil” types of people. Others have flirted with that freedom just enough to justify that since everything is permissible, everything must be beneficial as well. Also not striking the appropriate balance (1 Cor 10:23).
We cannot afford to ignore hermeneutics. We have an active community at our disposal called the Church for a reason. One of which is the pervasive passing of diverse perspectives among the family of God. The same friend of mine is always first to admit that in fact, we need one another BECAUSE of how we disagree. A beautiful melting pot of opinions in search for foundational common ground truth.
What was the point of even sharing about that diagram? If we are on a life-long quest to find, know, and follow the Christ then guess what will unfold throughout our rigorous investigation? God-inspired doctrine and dogma. The impartation of divine wisdom from a member of the Holy Posse: Mr. Holy Ghost Himself. Summed up simply: truth. We will inevitably arrive at the truth (Matt. 7:7).
What about Mr. Truth? If Jesus is who He says He is, then by following Him and not Christianity will we indeed discover truth. Don’t believe the endless sweeping, cultural bullshit. All roads do not lead to Rome. All roads do not lead to home. And certainly, all roads do not lead to salvation or heaven. If something that’s stripped down is genuinely true, guess what? It’ll come full circle back to Jesus.
“What I believe in (dogma & doctrine) shouldn’t be my “be all, end all”.
My center should be a relationship.” -Kyle Reynolds
So what about you? Who’s at your center? Who is your bulls-eye? Is it Christianity or is it the Carpenter of Nazareth who bore the sins of the world?
Christianity will hurt you, it won’t save you. If you’re loyal to Christianity, when it does you wrong your heart will produce resentment. It’s plausible that you will walk away from the Church. You may go as far as to have a falling out from your faith.
However, if you’re loyal to Jesus, then when the Church does you wrong you’ll have impetus in Christ to respond, not react. You’ll be compelled to respond with the same grace and unconditional love rendered to you by the Man you claim to be loyal to. You won’t gravitate away from the Church; you’ll undoubtedly gravitate towards it.
Bona fide loyalty produces unity among the body of Christ;
Religious treachery produces division.
(the muse behind this blog is my dear friend & coworker, Kyle Reynolds. His take on truth is far more intellectual and theological than mine. Read his ramblings on this topic HERE)