Friday, August 03, 2012

For the Record

I've been wondering what I would write about for post number 700.
For better or worse, this seems to have been dropped in my lap.

I've decided to set the record straight. I realize that I often seem to send some mixed signals to my Christian friends and family. I am more concerned about sending mixed signals to my non-Christian friends and followers. So let's just put it out there as plain as I can manage in a few short paragraphs.

I am a follower of Jesus.

I don't like to use the word Christian to describe myself. If we accept that Christian means to be "Christ-like" then I am afraid that I fall far short of that definition. Besides, I think it's pretty arrogant to proclaim, "Hey! I'm like Jesus!"

I believe what the Bible teaches about Jesus. I believe that He is the Son of God. That He is God. I believe that He died for my sins (and yours, too) and is the ONLY way to heaven. If you believe that there is another way to heaven (live a good life, do more good than bad, follow another belief or religion), I believe that you are wrong and will spend eternity in hell. In case you're wondering, that's what Jesus taught (along with the love your neighbor stuff).

When I preach, I preach salvation in Jesus and Jesus alone. I believe that we are called to teach others the things that Jesus teaches; that we are called to share Jesus and his love; that we are called to love our neighbors and our enemies; that we are called to be gracious and forgiving as God has been gracious and forgiving toward us.

If you are an unbeliever, I will gladly share my beliefs with you. I will listen as you share yours with me. I will not debate, argue nor fight with you about who is right and who is wrong. I will lead you to my Jesus and leave the Holy Spirit to pierce your heart with the truth. If we part with the same differences that we met with, I will pray for you.

That's my confession to my non-believing friends.
To my fellow followers of Jesus:

I am a social liberal. I believe that we (as a society) have a responsibility to one another. I don't believe that adequate health care is something for some and not for others. I believe that decent health care is a basic human right. I don't believe that one religion has the right to impose its beliefs on a society that has many religions and beliefs. That means that as a citizen of the USA, I support a gay couple's right to a civil union. I believe in the Biblical definition of the family and recognize that not everybody else does. I'm okay with that. As a preacher of the Gospel, I would probably decline to officiate a same gender wedding. I would not turn down an invitation to attend the same wedding and to celebrate with the couple.

I don't use pro-life/pro-choice as a litmus test for political candidates. I believe that conservatives have been played for too long by a party that is truly powerless to make a real difference and wouldn't even if they could. There is just too much money and manipulative power in keeping it as an issue. I don't believe that laws ever change the hearts of people. If you want non-believers to behave like followers of Jesus, you're going to have to introduce them to Jesus first. Then let Jesus lead them.

I don't get worked up over religious persecutions, we were told to expect them. (That's one of the things Jesus taught, remember?) 
I realize that the followers of Jesus will be a minority of our society. This may come as a shock to some, but I seem to remember a teaching that says the road is narrow and the way is hard and few will find it.
I accept that you have an American right to free speech and to worship as you choose. I realize that as a follower of Jesus, I do not.

I don't know if any of this makes any sense or not. I expect that some will think that I'm an intolerant religious zealot that judges everybody and condemns all non-Christians to hell. I'm not. That's not my job. Others may label me as a heretic and remind me that you can't be a Christian and a liberal. (And yes, I've been told that before.)

Maybe these things are the reasons that I struggle in every aspect of life. I struggle to be a faithful follower of Jesus. I struggle to be a good citizen of my country. I still struggle to be a good dad to my kids (that are pretty much grown) and a good husband to my wife. I have far too many things to worry about as I try to serve well to be concerned if everybody else is serving well. Though I will help you to understand the Bible and the teachings of Jesus as well as I can, when the time comes to stand in judgment, you're on your own. That's the best I can offer.

John <><


eViL pOp TaRt said...

I appreciate your views and your candor, John. I say God bless in both senses of its usage. You are a terrific guy!

Bilbo said...

Well said, John! I'm proud to count you as a digital friend!

Mike said...

There are boatloads of Christian librerals. You have lots of company.

John said...

EPT--Thanks! I have enjoyed reading your blog and your comments.

Bilbo--I am also proud to have you as a blogging friend.

Mike--I know there are plenty out there, but most are pretty careful about revealing that fact. I need a Ted Drewe's fix!