Recently, I was asked these questions: “Who is Jesus to you? Do you believe He fulfilled the mission He was sent for? What was that mission? Do you believe He was a real man? Do you believe that God is holy? Do you believe that He is so holy that He can not be in the presence of sin? How do you believe God sees our sin? Do you think God is sovereign? Do you think that God is still loving if He allows people to be murdered, raped, sick?” They came toward the end of a discussion about the existence and nature of hell. They also came from someone with whom I have corresponded both in blog post comments and e-mails prior to this latest interaction, and from someone I thought already knew many of my answers.
I admit, initially I felt put off by my on-line friend’s questions and another question: “is she doubting my salvation?” went through my mind. You see, my experience as an emerger-type has been that once more traditionally minded believers realize I do not line up with them on what seem to them to be fundamental positions, they feel justified in questioning whether or not I really am a believer. Thus, they ask a series of questions, similar to those above, to try and build more evidence against my true salvation. They think I can not believe what I say I believe if I do not also believe what they believe. I have even had people tell me I can not possibly believe in heaven, or what Jesus accomplished on the cross, or Christ’s resurrection if I do not also believe in hell. None of which, I must add, is defendable through scripture.
While I do not think this questioner asked the questions she did because she doubts my salvation, the reason I am answering them in a separate blog post is because of how asking them came across to me. I do not want to make a straw man with which to do battle by attributing attitudes to my on-line friend which she does not actually hold. My caution to all of us who would engage in theological discussion is that we work hard to debate true positions held by real people rather than make assumptions about what people believe based on our preconceived ideas of some label we (or the group we have attached ourselves to) have placed on them. I apologize to my on-line friend if using my reaction to her questions offends her. I do not believe she intended any ill will by asking her questions. Never the less, answering them here provides me with an opportunity to show how holding the positions I do, does not automatically mean I am a non-believer.
This would be an exceedingly long post if I tried to answer all the questions above at one time so I am going to split them into the Jesus questions and the God questions. I will address the Jesus questions shortly and the God questions in a part two post in a day or two. Once I write a completely new post I will put both part 1 and 2 as a page on my blog. Feel free to comment or ask additional questions on each section but know I will not answer the God questions until my next post. Now on to my answers.
“Who is Jesus to you? Do you believe He fulfilled the mission He was sent for? What was that mission? Do you believe He was a real man?” I believe Jesus is the Son of God (Luke 22:70). I believe He was fully man and is (and was prior to His life on earth) fully God. I believe in order to become a man He limited himself in both power and glory (Philippians 2:5-8) and as a man He did exactly what He was on earth to do (John 19:30). I believe His purpose was to live a life totally dependant on His Father—doing only what He saw the Father doing (John 5:19)–and by doing so He provided humanity with the way back to God (John 14:6). He came to save the world, not to condemn it (John 3:17, 12:47). And, His commandments to us are to Love God, love our neighbors as ourselves, and love our enemies (Matthew 22:36-39, 5:44). He saved the world by living a sinless life and defeating death. In a way I do not completely understand His life, death, and resurrection are a gift to me, which I have done nothing to earn, and which reunites me with my Creator, God.
If you have read many of my previous posts you probably know I take the life of Christ as presented in the Gospels quite seriously. I believe His message that the kingdom of God is at hand was encouragement to His followers to walk out a life of mutual submission and service. He was neither impressed nor put off by one’s rank or station. He taught His disciples to pray asking for the Father’s will to be done on earth in the same way it is done in heaven. He administered healing and forgiveness. And, He did so most often in the context of community and relationship. Finally, He was neither unnecessarily offensive nor inappropriately timid. He was most assuredly, led by the Spirit.