doctrine: knowing who i’m walking with

i’ve been hearing this song on some of the local Christian radio stations lately (now, before any of you leave because I used the words “Christian” and “radio” in the same sentence, hear me out), and I can’t help but smile every time i hear its opening lyrics:

“He became sin, who knew no sin
That we might become
His righteousness”

that is the good news. it’s so simply stated, so unadulterated. and it makes me thirst for more of Him every time i hear it.

i just want to follow Jesus

it seems like i’ve heard the above statement said more and more recently. or some variation of it. you probably have too. and i have to say, i can totally side with it. keep your programs. keep your rules. and give me Jesus.

i’ll be one of the first to say that all too often, as believers, we tend to put too much focus on things (rules, traditions, programs, etc) as opposed to putting our focus on Him. rather than drawing people in to a relationship with Him. most people need less things in their lives (by that i mean fewer places to be, fewer obligations to fulfill, etc), not more.

so often i fear we (as a church) are just being the pharisees to a whole new generation. and i shudder at that thought.

some in the church are moving away from long-held doctrines in an effort to draw more people near to Jesus. to focus more on Him, and less on things. and i can’t say that i blame them.

but, when i am honest with myself, i realize i have a problem with that “i just want to follow Jesus” mentality.

the reason for my love

i think one of the things that i appreciate so much about the lyrics i quoted above is that it reminds me of the Lord i worship. truly, it’s the gospel in a nutshell. it describes the reason for my love for Him.

now, if i were to just go around telling people how much i love my wife all the time, without being able to explain why i love her, i’d have a problem. sooner or later, people are going to want to know just what makes her so special, they’re going to ask why i love her so much that i feel as though i need to bother them with this fact. and if all i give them is a ‘because she’s great’ response, they’re going to question my relationship with her. and rightly so.

when asked, i should be able to give good reason for this deep-rooted love for my wife. i should be able to explain that it’s her beautiful smile that brightens my darkest days. that she has a heart bigger than anyone i’ve ever met, and that the love she shows for others serves as a daily role model for how i want to live my life. that lying beside her is the comfort i long for most when times are tough. that the best part of my day is when all is quiet, and we are together, left alone to our thoughts.

these are the kind of things i should be able to say to someone who asks about my so called love for my wife. and they’re the kind of responses that only come through a personal, intimate relationship with her.

the opposite of this response would be to speak in generalities, rather than specifics (i.e. because she’s pretty, because she loves me, etc). not only would this show that my love for her is shallow, but general statements like these could be attributed to someone completely different than my wife. in that way, my so-called love for my wife might in actuality be proof of an adulterous, make-believe kind of love. love for an imaginary wife, one who i’ve made up in my thoughts and daydreams, rather than love for my actual wife and who she is.

in the same way, if we’re unable to give a response for our love and devotion to Jesus Christ, then we’re in trouble. why? because it might be a sign of an adulterous relationship with our Lord. or, more appropriately, an idolatrous relationship. we may be in love with a god, but that god may be nothing more than a figment of our imagination (if it’s not firmly founded in The Jesus of scripture).

and it’s that thought that worries me so often, both for myself and for others. that we make these little jesuses up in our minds. of what we want Him to be like, rather than what he’s actually like. and we go on pretending to have this relationship with Him, all the while fooling ourselves and committing idolatry with a false god.

the importance of doctrine

does the church put too much emphasis on knowledge of Him and His Word, and not enough emphasis on being His hands and His feet to a hurt people. maybe. probably so (for many). but that doesn’t mean we need to throw out our teachings on Him, that doesn’t discredit the importance of doctrine. in fact, it’s doctrine that reminds us of the Jesus we worship.

i want to worship in truth. i want the Jesus of the Bible. the One who knew no sin, yet became sin. so that we might become His righteousness. that’s the Jesus i want to walk with. but i want to make sure i am really walking with Him, not some shadow of Jesus, a god of my imagination. and that’s why the Bible is so important. that’s why doctrine is in fact so critical. not so that our knowledge may grow, but so that we can grow in a right relationship with Him. it takes a healthy balance, certainly. but nothing can replace the importance of the Truth that is only found in His Word. it is only there that i find the true Jesus Christ.

3 thoughts on “doctrine: knowing who i’m walking with

  1. I am not one who “waxes poetic” but my heart sang out in absolute joy for your words Ryan. Because we despise (and rightly so) any hint of legalism we allow the pendulum to swing the other way and think that a blurred and ill-defined faith is the ticket for an unbelieving world. I believe, with you, that it is vital that we face an unbelieving world with things worth believing. That means being more precise in our theology, not less. But it also means that whatever doctrines we embrace we do so with the humility of Christ. We must resist the mindset that considers that the most humble people are the ones who don’t believe much. Your words articulated so well what a balance looks like. Thank you.

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