Friday, March 25, 2016

I Believe in Christ, and I Am a Christian

It seems strange to me that some people feel the need to attack my religious beliefs and argue that I am not a Christian just because I don't share all the same beliefs that they do. My husband's son posts things on Facebook on a regular basis that people should beware of Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses because they are all deceivers who aren't true Christians. I know it would do no good to try to point out how and why we ARE Christians, because his mind is closed to even the idea of it. Our beliefs don't fit with his comfortable vision of what Christianity is, so we must be rejected and consigned to hell for believing differently than him. That seems like an interesting take on what Jesus Himself teaches. I guess it all depends on your interpretation. I read verses like Matthew 7:14-20 (Beware of false prophets, you'll know them by their fruits, a good tree cannot bring forth corrupt fruit, and a corrupt tree cannot bring forth good fruit) and think about all of the really wonderful Mormon (and Jehovah's Witness) brothers and sisters whose fruits are love, kindness, selflessness, humility, and faithfulness. I think of the leaders within the Mormon church and all of the countless hours I've listened to their counsel and how not a single line of it has been anything that I would be ashamed to tell Jesus that I've been listening to. I haven't met a people more dedicated to actually living what Jesus Christ teaches, and yet somehow we aren't Christians? So what if we have some beliefs that seem strange and unbelievable to mainstream Christianity? Didn't Jesus and the apostles face the same prejudice against the "strange" religion they were preaching? Many of Jesus' own people wouldn't and couldn't accept His teachings because they didn't align with their long-held religious beliefs and customs. He said and did things that shocked non-believers and that forced His listeners to search deeply within themselves to determine whether or not they could accept Him as the Messiah, or whether the religion He was preaching was just another strange offshoot of their own "one and only true religion."

I'm not trying to convince anyone that Mormonism is true. No amount of arguing, persuasion, or "proofs" can do that. The only thing that can change someone's heart is for them to go to God with an open heart and sincerely ask about it. Not to ask "hey, God, the Mormons are all wrong, right?" but to really open themselves up to say to God "could this really be true? Are Mormons also Christians? Do you really speak to them and love them also?" It seems to me that most people whose minds are already poisoned against Mormon beliefs will never be able to look at it objectively enough to even ask those questions, much less to sit down and read the Book of Mormon and look for truth within it, or to recognize the good "fruit" that so many Mormons produce day in and day out. They can't see the love and dedication that we have for the Bible and the teachings of our Savior. And that's okay. I can respect that others don't see things the way I do. I can respect that they live their religion they way they understand it, and I can respect the fact that they worry that I'll be consigned to hell because of my beliefs. I'm okay with that. I know where I stand with God, and no amount of harassment by another human is going to undo what God has done in my life.

All I can say is: show me where I am not doing my best to live what Christ taught. Show me where my "other beliefs" have done anything to keep me from accepting Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. Show me how my study of His word has negatively influenced me and led me astray. Show me my sins and me errors...and I'll repent and ask for mercy from Jesus Christ. But don't judge me or my religion just because it's uncomfortable for you, or because you have a different way of interpreting what Jesus taught. Let's face it- if everyone agreed on what the Bible says, there would be no need for the multitude of denominations and churches that exist.

Jesus taught to love even those we saw as our enemies, so why not also love those whose beliefs differ from ours? That doesn't make me your enemy, so surely you can follow your own Savior's preaching and show mercy and love even if you can't agree with my beliefs. That's what "my" Jesus would do. What would yours do?

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