Last night at the pub, we talked about question no. 2 from Banned Questions about Jesus -
Where does the common personal salvation question come from? I.e. Do you believe Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God, and take him as your personal Lord and Savior?
Ultimately, we wondered whether the question is a creed or not – does it define at the most basic level who is in or out of the Christian faith? If you can’t answer the question, are you allowed to join a church? Is it okay to have doubts about Jesus and follow Christ?
I think so. I shared that even in our church community there are folks who see Jesus radically different from one another. I would gladly welcome anyone who was curious about Jesus, even if they weren’t sure whether he was God or born of a virgin or able to walk on water. Even if we were to agree to a common creed or set of beliefs about Jesus, there still would be differences. Individually, we each might be drawn to different aspects of his life, ministry, and teachings. In other words, seeing Jesus differently is part of what it means to be a disciple.
So, there’s good news there – whether you see Jesus as a bearded white guy or a radical prophet, there is room around the table for your understandings or misunderstandings. You can respond to such a question, not as a creed, but as an affirmation of where you are with Christ right then. And maybe it’s okay to say – I’m not sure, but I want to learn more. Jesus had patience for his disciples when they didn’t get it right – Jesus will have patience for us as well.
I try to remove the word “personal” from this affirmation of faith, because it makes Jesus sound to me like my butler or bodyguard, someone who works exclusively for me. Truly, Jesus’ life and ministry was for the world. We need to reclaim that and remember that following him was not purely a personal devotion but something that always involved the give, take, challenge, and sanctuary of a community. More on that later.