On Sunday mornings this summer, Heritage is exploring different myths commonly believed within Christianity during a “Mythbusters” teaching series. The week after each topic is taught from a biblical perspective, this blog will further dive into the issue at hand. We pray that this teaching series and the blog article that accompanies it will serve to be a resource as you reach your world for Christ.
By: Jeremy Nehf
Photo: Heather Michele Photo
The world is changing at a rapid pace. A few months back, my daughter initiated a conversation with me regarding globalism and its effects on politics. She mentioned that in one of her classes at a local community college, the teacher talked about the need for certain groups to insulate against globalization. The point this teacher made is that when a group’s sense of identity is being threatened, they tend to calcify and fall back to staunch beliefs rather than approaching issues with a desire to listen and learn from each other. The psychological posture of these groups is defensive and closed off to actually hearing and seeking to understand. This is something that happens in liberal and conservative circles alike. It is especially true in the technological age in which we presently live. Because of the Internet, we have access to the opinions, beliefs, and claims of the global marketplace of ideas. Those who are threatened by this societal advancement tend to retreat to specific sources of information that agree with what they already believe. One group may look at information critically and the other group looks for confirmation of their previously held biases.
To be fair, I can understand how it is that people accuse Christians of the latter. Indeed, some people within Christianity are closed-minded and there are some that are bigoted as well. However, much like any group, there are a full spectrum of attitudes held by Christians regarding the world around them and its ideas. Christians are not monolithic in every conviction. As a matter of fact, one of the often made charges against Christianity is that they can’t agree on anything. Often people see the multitude of denominations that make up the body of Christ and think to themselves, “If the church is to function like a family, it must be a dysfunctional one!” The issue is not what we don’t agree on, the issue is the things we do agree on in order to call ourselves Christians. There are people in the church from every nation on earth, throughout many ages, speaking different languages, who disagree on a whole range of things relating to the Christian faith. Issues like baptism (dunk or sprinkle?), communion (wine or juice?), gifts of the spirit (miracles or not?), age of the earth (old or young?), etc. The one thing that all Christians share, and what defines them as Christians, is their belief that Jesus was God in human form; that He graciously died on the cross in the place of undeserving sinners; that He was raised again from the dead; and that all who trust Jesus to save them from the penalty of their sin by faith will be saved. The views that you have to hold in order to be a Christian are actually a pretty narrow set of views. There are many things that are up for debate and Christians have been sharing heated dialogue about most of those issues for millennia. But there are a few things that are unchanging and uncompromising.
Still, some will argue that those core beliefs are discriminatory enough. To say that there is only one way to come to God excludes anyone who doesn’t agree. This is often interpreted as being hostile to people from other cultures and beliefs. However, Christians are not saying that they are better than anyone else or more deserving. If anything, built into Christianity is a humility that demonstrates they are the recipients of God’s charity or grace. Christians understand that they have done nothing to deserve God’s gift of life through His Son. They realize that they are just as guilty of rejecting God and sinning as the rest of the world. When informed by the gospel, Christians are open-hearted to every sinner and every culture. Christians also believe that God has made clear the way for man to be reconciled to Him. This clarity is not for the purpose of being exclusive or bigoted. Rather, it is for the purpose of exposing reality. The exclusivity of the gospel message keeps humans from running to things that don’t save and don’t satisfy the human heart. Because Christians have trusted in Jesus, they have also trusted the claims that Jesus made. One of those claims couldn’t be any clearer. “I am the way, the truth, and the life and no one comes the Father except through me.” John 14:6.
Let me give a short analogy that might be helpful. Someone could protest against the government that they shouldn’t have to pay taxes. They could give lots of reasons why they shouldn’t have to pay. Perhaps they object to the government’s use of its authority, or maybe they disagree with its morality. However, the law is clear and exclusive. To be in compliance with the laws of the land, to enjoy the protection and services that are afforded citizens, and to remain free in society, everyone needs to contribute. The government does not hate its citizens and is not bigoted towards them. Rather, it is clear that to enjoy the freedom of the kingdom you live in, you have to be a participant.
God is real. His offer of salvation is real as well. He has made it clear that there is only one way to know God and that is through His Son. His offer of the gospel is clear because it is a genuine invitation to all those who are acting as though they do not live in a world He created. Even the unbeliever is enjoying the good things that God provides; but God wants them to be reconciled and forgiven. For many, this message is like sunlight that softens the wax and melts their hearts. For others, the same light of the gospel hardens the heart like clay. Christians don’t see this offer of the gospel as closed-minded. We see this as God’s open hearted offer to all who are willing to trust Him.