Most of us have heard the statement at one time or another about not putting God in a “box” when talking about answered prayer, or how he moves, or in reference to not always understanding his magnificent ways. Yet, we think nothing of putting God in a box in defense of our own personal dogmas, doctrines, or beliefs – or better yet – in a wishing well. I have heard it said more times than I care to admit that we don’t need to “interpret the bible” we just need to read it and it interprets itself. Really? Then how is it according to one poll I read, that we have over 3,500 “Christian” denominations, not including non-denominational churches. Everyone has an “interpretation” of sorts, some fall more closely alongside other acceptable beliefs such as the Nicene Creed. I personally like to agree based on the simplicity of the Nicene Creed and leave much of the other doctrines, dogmas, or beliefs on an agree to disagree basis. In reality, I don’t even feel the need to agree to disagree, but prefer to learn from others what they believe, seeking as much as possible a common ground in an interested, silent, teachable posture. For some denominations or fellowships, even the word church, denomination, or fellowship brings forth differing opinions. Whether or not we baptize, how we baptize – by submersion or sprinkling, what constitutes regeneration, whether sanctification happens at salvation or is a process, whether or not we can lose our salvation, if we can know for sure we are “saved,” and whether or not saved or born again are valid biblical uses of the terms are a sampling of a few fundamental differences. I won’t even touch on women’s issues, biblical submission (which includes slavery but it’s always left out of the context of submission) or church leadership.
From there we can branch into what constitutes holiness, how, when, and in what form the Holy Spirit manifests himself/” herself”, right on to whether or not a Christian should drink, tattoo, and on, and on, and on… All using a “biblical” precedence their opinions. Opinions. I hold to certain opinions – not doctrines, truths, or dogmas – simply opinions. I am not a theologian, or a bible scholar, (though I am very well read and scholarly) and if I were, it wouldn’t change my opinion that we need to learn how to become more humble – better listeners – better learners – better friends – and better humans.
The presumption that each one of us is completely right in our doctrines shows an absence of humility. My “truths” may be wrong. I am only human. I see through a glass darkly. My truth is named Jesus. I don’t hold to any others. Worship. People leave churches over worship. To loud, too calm – the spirit isn’t moving – the flesh is evident – too many psalms, too much contemporary. God is present. The devil is present. They raise their hands. They don’t raise their hands. All preferences. All opinions. All needed to meet the people God has called to serve Him with purity of heart.
That is the point – worship that flows from the heart of all of us, to Jesus. Not to the rock band. Not to the title of “Rock of Ages. To the Rock. To Jesus. Ah, but I have the Holy Spirit and he leads us into ALL truths. Then what do I do with the Holy Spirit which led us into a cult? We served with our whole hearts then. I was willing to die for my “doctrines.” My child did die as a result of those doctrines – no matter how accidental or unintentional. We made a huge mistake based on “doctrinal truth.” It was a wrong doctrine that we believed with all our hearts.
Wishing well Christianity.
We all drop the bucket into the well and pull out the doctrines we choose to believe are “truth.” We back it up with scripture. The same scriptures someone else used to argue their opposing views. We don’t put God in a box, we put him in the wishing well of our belief system and then we judge those who don’t pull out the same bucketful. They are not drinking from the true well. Their bucket is tainted by the wrong wood or was made by the wrong carpenter. Jesus also stood at a well. And he blasted out of the water every sense of conformity that Jewish custom held to. He equalized the position of a Samaritan woman when he offered her himself – the living water. A Jew, spoke to an unclean, adulterous woman – alone! She drew forth a bucket of FREEDOM to follow God in His unconditional love and acceptance.
Only love and acceptance can change us into the image of the Son. Only knowing our place of right standing is secure – and nothing we can ever do can separate us if we truly love Him and call upon Him. We are not accepted for our doctrines, dogmas, or beliefs. We are accepted because of His sacrificial love.
We are accepted because He first loved us, and He loves us still.