Friday, February 27, 2009

Re 4: What I believe

Niffer responded again.
I do not think that Christians are entirely crazy, including Jesus being the only way.

I think the ironic thing, though, is that there really isn't a way for anyone to know for sure. You have to wait until you're dead before you know which religion or belief is right. Until then, you have to depend on your faith and whatever makes sense to you personally. And both of these things differ from person to person. Someone is right.
Yes. And that means someone is also wrong. Of course, I don't want to be on the wrong side. And I don't know for sure that I'm on the right side. I *could* be wrong. But I don't think I am, because as I've mentioned, I don't understand how in all the other religions we have to look for God. We're the ones in control of finding him. Christianity is the only one that turns that around. And because of that I think it's the one that makes the most sense.
I do have another thing to mention in light of the "Jesus is the only way"... Whenever I read that, I interpret it differently than I know my religious family members do. My family members believe that the way to Heaven is to accept Jesus as your personal savior. I interpret it as "being more like Jesus is the only way to Heaven." Now, you could argue that accepting Jesus as your savior instills the desire to be more like him, but I would argue that is not the case for some of my family members. I would also argue that it is possible to be more like Jesus without believing he is one's personal savior. I'm not sure if I'm making sense. I guess I'm just trying to say that I interpret "Jesus is the only way" as "trying to be more like Jesus is the only way" and not "accept him as a savior is the only way."
Unfortunately, I don't think that "being more like Jesus" is the way. I think you got it right when you say that it's the result. But it's not the way to be found by God. If being more like Jesus is the way to God, then that's just another way of saying, that we can bridge the gap between God and ourselves on our own. I don't think we can. I find it difficult to make sense of a religion that assumes that lowly humans are in the driver's seat of relationship with God. I think God's in the driver's seat and the way he made for us was through Jesus.

Re: your family members, I don't know what to tell you. One of the things that the Bible says is that at judgment, some of us who think we're saved will be surprised because of how we treated others. We will have convinced ourselves that we had turned back to God, but when we didn't actually change at all, it was like we had no relationship with him in the first place. That thought petrifies me. I sometimes fear that I'm in that group. And that's when it's time for me to ask God to forgive me, again, for all the times I did in fact lurk into that group. And to ask him to keep working on me, in spite of myself.

So it's possible that your family members are in that group. Or it's possible that it's hard for you to see the changes that you'd expect to see. The Bible requires us to turn away from our old life. This act of turning away is called repentance. C.S. Lewis gives a good example of why it's often difficult for us to determine who has or has not repented. In his example, he describes the life of someone who grew up in a cruel family, subject to psychological and physical abuse throughout their entire childhood. That person has a set of baggage on his life that makes it more difficult for him to show the world what's in his heart. Lewis then suggests that it may be a bigger act of repentance for that person to show a single act of kindness and gentleness to another human being, than it might be for me to dedicate my entire life in service to the poor.

The point is that we don't know who has responded to Jesus and who hasn't. We judge with human eyes, and human standards. So maybe your family members aren't behaving the way you'd like them to. But maybe they're far better off then they would be without God. Or maybe they're deluding themselves. There's no way for you or me to know. We do not have a view into the hearts of another. But God does. And he's just. And he'll make the right call.

But even more difficult than that is this: sometimes I'm even confused about myself and whether or not I'm responding to Jesus. My response to that is to ask God to point out where I'm failing. That he make it obvious to me.

If I leave you with the impression that Christianity is easier than the other religions, I'm sorry about that. I don't think it is. It's just the one that makes the most sense to me.

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