April 30, 2011

What It Takes to Be Christian

Can you call yourself a Christian if you don’t believe in the virgin birth?  What if you’re unable to accept the notion that Jesus was the literal son of God and that He died for our sins?  What if all you believe is that His gospel of love, service and forgiveness is the best way to live and will produce saints of us all?  Are you a Christian then?

I hope so, because I consider myself to be a Christian, but as you might have guessed from the opening paragraph, I don’t believe in what some refer to as the mystery of Christ’s birth or His mission to atone for our sins.  In this way, I might be a goat among the Shepherd’s flock, but that doesn’t mean I don’t love the Shepherd and what He represents.  In fact my greatest desire is that we—all of us, together—learn to live His creed more fully. 

Some people will read this and conclude I lack faith and am destined for hell.  They’re welcome to their opinion, but I’m convinced that Christ would be happier if we lived His gospel, rather than simply believed in its mystical trappings.  As a father, I don’t care if my sons think I was the smartest investment banker who ever lived.   I only hope they’ve learned from my best deeds and intentions, and that they practice kindness and generosity in everything they do.  Faith might be a noun in the dictionary, but it must, of necessity, be a verb in the heart.  A kind-hearted Hindu is far better off than a hypocrite who claims to have been born again. 

In the same way, lip service means nothing to me.  In my mind, being a Christian has little to do with publically testifying of the Savior’s greatness and expressing love for Him.  Such pronouncements are the spiritual equivalent of muscle flexing on Venice Beach.  Rather, the gospel should be about putting one’s money where one’s mouth is.  Show me a person who emulates all that is good in Jesus and I’ll show you someone who doesn’t need to say he owes it all to God. 

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