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Faith Reimagined:

What do I have to believe?

What do I have to believe?

Over the last several weeks we’ve been looking at questions and beliefs that can hinder our faith. Today we look at our last question in that series: What do I have to believe? If this series is prompting a lot for you, come talk with us on Sundays at 10 AM, or reach out to me directly at I’d love to hear what you’re thinking through.

If you know anything at all about Jesus, if that name even rings a bell for you, you likely also have some ideas about what you’re “supposed” to believe. From the time we start learning about Jesus, we get messages about what it means to follow him. I’m giving you some of those messages right now.

Many of those messages come from people who have great intentions and good hearts. Others we pick up along the way through culture, media, etc. Many of these ideas are great and have valuable things to offer. But those ideas, those systems, and approaches, are not the same thing as Jesus. They’re not perfect.

Is there something that you think you have to believe or do to be a follower of Jesus that you just can’t buy into? Maybe you don’t have to believe it. You may not have to vote a certain way, or condemn certain people to hell, or choose between faith and science.

Before we get too far down that path, let me say that following Jesus should absolutely challenge us. It should change our lives, and we should not expect to change Jesus, to edit his teachings to suit ourselves. But there is a danger, as we move through our faith, that some peripheral ideas will drift from the edges to the center of our faith.

Start in the deep end. Who is Jesus? What do you think about his death and resurrection? That’s the essential stuff. That’s where following Jesus begins and lives.*

The cultural stuff, the political stuff, the hot-button stuff – that’s all important – but it’s shallow end stuff. When we move these things to the center of our faith, we are in danger of missing the bigger work God is doing.

As far as I know, Christianity is the only faith perspective where the truth is not a theology, or a precept, or a book. The truth is a person – Jesus. “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” When we choose to follow Jesus, we’re choosing him. Not a set of ideas. This is where the wonder lies.

Good people believe different things. You can sort through them, you can let some go, you can take a new perspective, without letting go of Jesus. Keep Jesus in the center and hold the rest with an open hand.

Questions to consider:

  • Are there things you think you “have to” believe in order to follow Jesus that bother you?
  • Think about other Christians you know. Think about Jesus’ life, and the community he built while he was alive. Do these people and communities reflect the belief that troubles you?
  • Is the issue you’re concerned about essential to following Jesus? Why or why not?
  • If the sticking point is essential, do you still want Jesus? Why or why not?

*I heard Tim Keller use this deep end/shallow end analogy, but can’t remember where. Thanks and credit to Tim.

By Brad Zinn; Edited by Rebecca DeWhitt.

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