The most holy week for the Christian faith community is upon us. This is the week of Passover on the Jewish calendar which intertwines with the remembrance and celebration of the death and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. For Christians, this week encapsulates the belief that Jesus, God’s Son, died to pay the price for sin and open the door to eternity for sinners.
I am in awe of how the institution of the church that claims Jesus as the Savior of the world has confused the message of Easter. Let me share just a few of the confusing aspects of church doctrine.
At the core of some ‘Christian’s’ faith is the passage of scripture in the New Testament book of John chapter 3 verse 16 which reads, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” You know this is central to some ‘Christian’ groups because you see “John 3:16” on signs at most large gatherings of any kind. I embrace the message of this statement attributed to Jesus in a discussion he was having with a guy named Nicodemus who was trying to understand the teachings of Jesus. Some ‘Christians’ have taken this simple statement and created a whole ‘book’ of requirements a person must complete before they can have eternal life. According to these ‘Christians’ if you do not accept their requirements you remain a sinner condemned to hell. This confuses me. Maybe, these ‘Christians’ haven’t read the next verse where Jesus continues to teach Nicodemus by saying, “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” Now, I am really confused by the ideas that 1) there is an extensive list of mostly ‘don’t’s that qualify a person as a ‘believer’ and 2) that condemnation is the result of a person not accepting and living by the precepts of this legalistic view of salvation.
The teaching of Jesus in these two verses of scripture do not support either of these ideas preached by some ‘Christian’ leaders. The reality of Jesus ministry is that one of his primary frustrations with the Jewish religious institution was the preponderance of rules. These ‘Christians’ who have laid a ‘claim’ on Jesus seem to ignore the disgust Jesus had for all the ‘red tape’ associated with the religious community. These ‘Christians’ seem to think the simple act of believing in Jesus (as Jesus states it.) is not enough to receive the gift of eternal life. This confuses me.
Second, Jesus very clearly states he is not here to condemn anyone. He is on earth instead to bring salvation to the world. The only folks Jesus speaks accusingly to are the religious leaders with their insistence on creating and following the rules in their doctrine. If you don’t believe me look it up.
Matthew 12 ‘brood of vipers’
Matthew 21 ‘den of robbers’ (also Mark 11 and Luke 19)
Matthew 23 ‘blind guides’
Jesus confronted the religious leaders so much that they couldn’t stand him and of course their hatred of Jesus took us to Good Friday and Easter.
Some “Christians’ claim Jesus as the Savior but create doctrine in direct opposition to the teaching of Jesus who does not condemn anyone. This confuses me.
Could the truth be that some ‘Christians’ are missing the simple, and wonderful, news that Jesus has done all the work necessary to give the gift of eternal life to everyone?
See you next time