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What if I don't know how I feel about Jesus and the Bible? Part two
We are wondering about the question “what if I don’t know how I feel about Jesus and the Bible?”
If we are just judging everyone for not having the “right” beliefs (as if we are the arbiters of all that’s right and wrong), I don’t think we will do a good job redeeming this world. We seem to already have something of a reputation for being close-minded and judgmental individuals, as Christians, so it would be nice if we could attempt to do something a little new and a little different.
I hope, before we are certain our beliefs are completely right, we should look to Jesus, who loved people despite where they were coming from, and even helped them see the truth by loving them.
It seems to me that fundamental to our faith should be the ability to be a safe place. A safe place for people who are unsure of what they believe, unsure how Jesus fits into, or wonder about what the Bible could mean for them. Questions are good, right?
Let’s have a reputation of being welcomers, lovers, and includes.
I do that knowing that Jesus is Lord and that he the Savior of the World and I feel good about that. I think that Jesus, in his awesomeness, compels me to love people like he loved them. The basic idea that people are better in the church than outside of it should be what guides us to include others. So I am thankful that we, in Circle of Hope, have created a safe place for people to wonder, question, and learn from each other.
I hope that we can all learn that. I hope that we can wonder together. We are always learning, right? So why not end our absolute certainty and try to discern together. I think the Holy Spirit works best in a context where human beings haven’t hardened their neurons and cemented their ideas. The inclusion should be a two-way street. Let’s be committed to pursuing truth together.
I’m not so much interested in a debate, but a humble admission that we can learn something from each other. I hope you are receiving that here. I hope that we can actually work it out together.
We are a system committed to dialogue and I hope we can come to it with our minds made up. For me, that’s how Jesus and the Holy Spirit work, less with dogma and absolutes, and more with humility and grace. So I suppose some doubt is good.
I’m not sure how helpful self-doubt is. I think we should have a sense of our self-worth and be able to generate ideas together. But overthinking our theology is probably not the best use of our time, but if we don’t doubt at all, we must wonder what the purpose of our faith is at all.
The reason it works is because we are not certain. How could we be certain? The reason that love works is because it’s not formulaic. We live in a world of doubt and suffering; combatted by faith and love.
We need to come to the conversation with an open-mind. Let’s actually expect to be changed. The truth is if you come to the community and simply want to be accepted for who you are without being disciple, then we might have some trouble.
The question about whether you are not sure is a good one. But so often it seems like we are sure. We come to the conversation with our mind made up. Who even says the Lord’s mind is made up all the time? I’m not ready to venture into a contemporary evangelical debate about the nature of God—again, I would rather live in mystery and be open to God’s infinite nature, than try to confine him to a book—but it seems to me like God wants to be in a dialogue with us. He wants us to ask questions and relate to him as someone that we haven’t completely figured out yet.
In the body of Christ, too, I think we are equally dialogical. If you don’t know how you feel about Jesus and the Bible, and the Resurrection, and whatever else society says are the “fundamentals” of our faith, I think your openness and willingness to be in a conversation is good. The more rigid certainty, hard hearts we bring to something, not only are we less pleasant to be around, I’m not sure that that ultimately ends up being the fulfillment of life in Jesus.
One of our proverbs that is helpful in these circumstances states that “Everybody gets listened to, but people who make and nurture disciples and who make love happen get listened to more.” I’m not prepared to say that we have a democratic virtue where everyone’s voice gets listened to equally (and what democracy even has that?), but we do want to listen to the Spirit together. And we think you are a part of that movement.
Belief isn’t so much the main goal as making disciples, nurturing people, and loving them are. For me, those things are deeply rooted in belief, but I think our main command is to love each other like Jesus loved us. Some of us can be experts at belief, and others can have gifts elsewhere, but love and action, in fact, don’t seem be negotiable.
Sometimes it seems like we end up being so preoccupied with belief, and matters of the heart, that we forget that the world knows little about our spiritual beliefs (unless we are constantly utter them—something that 20th Century Evangelicals have never failed to do), but certainly knows more about our actions. It’s probably for this reason that James said faith without deeds is dead. Here’s James in the second chapter of his epistle.
James goes a long way to tell Christians and followers of Jesus at large that their faith and deeds need to be showcased through their faith. He literally asks us what good is our faith, if their isn’t deeds attached to it? What good is it to have an appearance of a Christian, but without the lifestyle. Even the demons, says James, believe the right things. Is that all we’re about?
What would it look like to be a community that demonstrated action first instead of just making sure everyone believed the right thing? What if God could convict people to change the world before they knew exactly who Jesus is and what the Bible means? It’s possible that action can come before belief; that fruit can be born without knowing the source.
Of course, it’s quite possible that belief might end in world changing behavior too. No need to be certain about which order it does in.
What if you don’t know how you feel about Jesus and the Bible? You sound pretty normal. Come and join us and see what happens. We are ready to dialogue alongside of you.