Above all else…

There is a lot of variation within the Christian community. There are disputes over baptism: infant baptism verses dedication, baptism of the Holy Spirit vs symbolic baptism, immersion vs sprinkling; communion: how often-weekly, monthly, quarterly, annually, is it literally Christ’s body and blood or is it symbolic, open or closed communion; gifts of the Spirit: tongues or no tongues, apostleship vs no apostleship today, the same with prophets; women in authority positions over men or not; and more (worship style, music style, preaching style, programs utilized, curses and blessings, spiritual warfare where we are responsible for battle or not,etc…). And to all of this we have to ask, what is the point of Christianity?

I am going to use a few verses and then sum up the point of this post. Note that there are three key components. Repentance, belief, and acting in obedient love.

Acts 2:36-40 “therefore let all the house of Israel know with certainty that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah!”

When they heard this, they were pierced to the heart and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles: “Brothers, what must we do?”

“Repent,” Peter said to them, “and be baptized, each of you, in the name of Jesus the Messiah for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children, and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call.”

And with many other words he testified and strongly urged them, saying, “Be saved from this corrupt generation!”

Matthew 22:34-40 When the Pharisees heard that He had silenced the Sadducees, they came together in the same place. And one of them, an expert in the law, asked a question to test Him: “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?”
He said to him, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and most important commandment. The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commandments.”

Deuteronomy 6:4-5 “Listen, Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is One. Love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.”

Mark 1:14-15 After John was arrested, Jesus went to Galilee, preaching the good news of God: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe in the good news!”

The point is this: If you, as a Christian, are more concerned with religion than you are with relationships (your relationship to God, your relationship to others) then you are in the wrong. God’s primary focus is people as individuals. Evaluate your understanding of religion and see what in your life is drawing you and others towards God, if nothing then change, if something then keep doing it and continue to grow. Don’t get caught up debating doctrine or thinking that you are more spiritual than someone else. That is not of God. The more mature person should have the more gracious character not the more condemning, judgmental, negative character.

Love God. Love those around you. Learn what God desires and obey (think character traits not religion: someone who is loving, joyful, peaceable, gentle, self-controlled, etc…). And no “buts”.

Boris

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