There are thousands of different concepts and ideas floating around in Christianity and most of them have followers who have split from others over their specific views. Of course the biggest split started when a lowly monk decided he knew better than the Pope what God was really about. There are those who have split off other denominations because they believe that total immersion is the only way to receive a “correct” baptism and, of course there are those who choose different views of the Bible. Some say every word is literally true and some say only the doctrinal messages are true. There are literally hundreds of other excuses we Christians have used to divide ourselves into different flocks.
While the people involved in all these 35,000 or so splits take very seriously the reasons they believe it was necessary to go their own ways. When I think about them the book title by Richard Carlson entitled “Don’t sweat the Small stuff (and it’s all small stuff)” comes to mind. The front and center for all of us who call ourselves Christians must be Jesus Christ; everything else is just small stuff. I can hear some of your saying” NO that is not true. If you aren’t baptized correctly then you are going to hell!!” Or other such words. I hope some day we all realize how petty we have become over many of these issues.
I have spent the last several years studying perhaps a hundred books on theology. In that study I have basically found that for every thinkable concept of God there are many human versions of what that concept means. Things like the Trinity really don’t matter in the grand scheme of things. Whether God is three in one or just one really doesn’t matter much. God is God and can be whatever he chooses to be and in my mind what he chooses to be is a God of agape love.
One of the basic things that does matter is why Jesus came among us? This question also seems to have many answers for us. Most, but not all, Christians believe that he came to be an atoning sacrifice for our salvation. As I have mentioned a few times in the past I don’t really understand this concept but do accept it on faith. Some say he also came to teach us lessons on how to live our lives in the universe he created. I am definitely in that camp but there are quite a few who almost totally discount this aspect of Jesus’ life. They believe that Jesus’ sole purpose was to die for our sins and to point us to heaven and that anything else he did or said about living was at best irrelevant to the “real” issue. They are totally convinced that it is proper to jump from Jesus’ birth immediately to his death. Nothing in between has much significance. Calling anything God says or did irrelevant is a pretty risky thing to me! Of course, Calvinists are among this group but I think many other fundamentalist denominations join them. To shortchange Jesus’ teachings on how to live causes them, in my opinion, to lose out on understanding of who Jesus really was. I feel sorry for them in that regard.
Let’s not spend much of our day worrying about what God looks like and instead spend it concentrating on what Jesus said and did while he was among us. All the other stuff is just stuff that causes us confusion and gets in the way of this central message. Jesus opened his three year ministry with the following words:
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoner and recovery of sight for the blind,
to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
I would hope that all of us take at least these words to heart in calling ourselves disciples of Jesus Christ. But sadly that is not the case for some of us. So to end this, concentrate on Jesus and all the other minor details will resolve themselves.