Does God demand we believe in Jesus and any asserted claim about Jesus according to the Bible to be loved and accepted? I don’t wish to undermine one’s cherished beliefs of the Christian faith, but we mustn’t impose any beliefs on others without considering how God would respond to doubts. I am not convinced a loving God lets any sacred belief interfere with the possibility of a relationship other than immoral beliefs that lead to the violation of others’ rights.
Churches and religions fuss over sacraments such as baptism or marriage, thus losing site of the main goal, but what about beliefs as to whether Jesus was both man and God or any other belief. Does God have non-negotiable beliefs? Focuses on such beliefs drown out the message Jesus came to proclaim. One can understand the intellectual complexities in insisting Jesus was both fully deity and fully human. Can one logically be both deity and not deity any more than being both married and a bachelor? Those of us who didn’t witness Jesus’ life on earth or speak to eyewitnesses may need to consider separately claims about Jesus and the message of Jesus.
Suggesting a loving God insists one can only come to God through Jesus is to ignore the realities of our world. John Hick in Who Or What is God rightly acknowledges: “…in the vast majority of cases, probably 98 or 99 per cent, the religion to which anyone adheres (or against which they rebel) depends upon where they are born. When someone is born into a Christian family they are very likely to become a Christian, whether practicing or nominal; when into a Muslim family, very likely to become a Muslim; if into a Buddhist family, to become a Buddhist – and so on round the world” (p. 73). Would a loving God judge people who have never heard about God of the Bible or who have a distorted view of God causing misbelief?
Jesus’ interactions with people did not suggest God has a litmus test regarding certain beliefs. Jesus didn’t insist the woman caught in adultery believe He was God but simply to go and leave your life of sin (Jn. 8:1-11). Jesus only felt the need to inspire the woman to consider doing what she knew was right in her heart. Zacchaeus, a tax collector, cheated people out of their money but decided to payback four times what he stole. Jesus responded: “Today salvation has come to this house” (Lk. 19:9). There was no formal confession. Jesus simply commended Zacchaeus for recognizing a life which avoids personal destruction and makes for a better world.
The only beliefs the Bible speaks out against are immoral beliefs which lead to the violation of the rights of others. Jesus didn’t speak out on divorce to condemn all but to defend one should enter marriage as if for a lifetime and kicking partners to the curb to enjoy your current desires is simply wrong. Who doesn’t tell their children the same? God authorized wars in Old Testament times when nations refused to live with others in peace and were involved in despicable practices such as child sacrifice. The only sacred belief Jesus spoke of was going the extra mile in loving others as you want to be loved, for such behaviors may be the only way to deter others from destruction. Seek revenge and destroy yourself and others from every changing their ways.
Religion leaders in biblical time and now, who focus on certain sacred beliefs, lead people from focusing on why Jesus came. Jesus’ only sacred belief was that our Creator loves and forgives us in hopes we may be the same toward others. Jesus taught God seeks to empower us toward a life of doing good and shunning evil in a troubled world. What does your heart say about Jesus’ message to love others as you wish to be loved? Jesus came to dispel any preconceived notions about God other than God desires a relationship so to help you be the person you deep down want to be. Many struggle with certain beliefs but are not ready to throw out Jesus’ message. Who is God and what is God’s message to you? Any other beliefs are between you and God.