Sweating the wrong details
I find it fascinating and comforting to learn how much intellectual horsepower has been dedicated to Christianity over the past 2,000 years.
It starts of course with Jesus Christ himself, moves on to disciples like Luke and John, to the Apostle Paul, proceeds to second century doctrinists like Origen and Tertullian, to Athanasius, to the church fathers east and west, to John Chrysostom, Augustine, Maximus and so many others. The unbroken line of intellect and faith includes scholars, bishops, archbishops, Popes, emperors, rebels, monks, martyrs, philosophers, preachers, missionaries and so many others who have been loyal to the Trinity, the faith, the Bible, the Church, and the fellowship of all believers.
Today’s hip, modernist culture seems wholly unaware of the overwhelming intellectual wealth that tracks Christianity on a provable, consistent, faithful line back to the living, breathing days of Jesus. The Bible in some quarters is mistakenly regarded as a discontinuous book that reaches over history to a legend of long ago, allowing us to define – culturally and politically – what we want Jesus to be today.
But Jesus Christ reaches straight through the heart of history. His body and blood are as real today as when He was crucified, buried and resurrected.
Admittedly, it’s not been all smooth sailing. Many religious figures through the years have made it difficult to enjoy the simplicity of Jesus because they have made such a muddle of trying to define Jesus. Doctrines, dogmas, creeds, concepts, systems, legalisms, disciplines and liturgies have been created trying to define the undefinable – the living, loving, servant-hearted, death-defeating, God-glorifying eternal salvation that Jesus Christ brought to a fallen, groaning, dying world.
It’s easy for Christians to sweat the wrong details, stumbling over doctrines only to wind up worshiping or reviling a religious idea instead of focusing on the reality of Christ. Are you Roman Catholic or Orthodox? Protestant or Catholic? Calvinist or Arminian? Do you prostrate yourself in sin and shame, or praise God for His grace and love? Do you prefer pipe organs or guitars? Where do you stand on tribulation, end times and rapture? Is Hell real? Are abortion and gay marriage the church’s business?
The main thing above all is Jesus Christ. But after offering a robust “Amen” to freedom in Christ, we’ll start a church-rattling Sunday school brawl over a concept, like whether we can lose our salvation. We insist on definitions, but the Bible plainly says we can’t define God (Isaiah 55:8), and that innocent, uncomplicated faith in Christ is the key to God’s Kingdom (Matthew 18:1-4).
Christ himself – not a doctrine, concept, or rule – is our peace (Ephesians 2:14).
That’s a detail worth sweating.
Walters (firstname.lastname@example.org) encourages knowing Jesus more than knowing doctrines.