Over the past few weeks, I've been a part of a forum with several influential evangelical leaders, as well as some Muslims that love Jesus but remain within the tradition of Islam. One of the questions that we've been asking is "What does it mean to follow Jesus?" One of the main points that has been made in response to this question is how Jesus meets people where they are, calling people to follow Him regardless of their background.
Jesus' approach (e.g. eating and drinking with sinners and heretics) seems to be the opposite of the approach that many evangelicals take today, which is to start the conversation with doctrinal litmus tests, as if following Jesus can be reduced to a seminary entrance exam.
Do you believe in the Deity of Christ?
Do you believe that you're justified by faith alone?
Oh, and by the way, do you agree that you're justified by faith alone but saving faith is not alone?
I wonder if we're complicating things?
This verse came to mind today: "I've been crucified with Christ, it is no longer I who live but Christ lives in me, and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me" (Galatians 2:20) (italics emphasis mine)
What if the crux of Paul's revelation is as simple as Jesus loves me? What if the cross, and all of our atonement theories that we use to explain the cross, isn't the main point, but a demonstration of the main point, which is God's inclusive love for all humanity? As Paul says in Romans 5:8, "But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us."
If Jesus was capable of loving Paul, then maybe He's capable of loving people today? If it's possible to enter into a loving, obedient, faith relationship with Jesus the Messiah today, then doesn't that cover the Jesus is more than a man part in our doctrinal litmus tests?
I'm wondering if the doctrine of the Deity of Christ is simply but a sign post to point us to a greater reality, which is that through a relationship with this mystical person called the Messiah, all of us have access to God in a way that wasn't fully available before Jesus showed up on the scene.
So maybe the old Sunday School song "Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so" is all we really need to know. What if that's the main point--and everything else is secondary?
I'm thinking out loud here.
Forgive my babble.