Today’s Reading: “I believe in God, The Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth. I believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, our Lord.”
Up until today’s passage, many people across the globe, regardless of their religious convictions, can readily agree with what The Creed has stated thus far…
I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth.
But today, we now come to the part of The Apostles’ Creed where a solid, unmovable line is being drawn in the sand…
I believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, our Lord.
You see, this statement is the core truth that separates Christianity from other religious traditions. Islam, for example, sees Jesus of Nazareth as a great teacher. Judaism receives the Master as a good, Hebrew man who spoke many helpful truths. Even non-believers read about this carpenter from Galilee and call Him a man of great influence who accomplished much good in this world.
But it’s this core belief that Jesus of Nazareth is God’s only Son, and that as Lord (or Messiah) He is God’s chosen instrument for godly purposes that truly differentiates (and some would say, alienates) Christian faith from all others.
So, let’s address these things just a bit.
First of all. Allow me to ask the questions some are asking today…
Is it necessary for Christians to believe that Jesus of Nazareth is God’s only Son?
Aren’t we all sons and daughters of God?
Aren’t others with different religious beliefs, sons or daughters of God as well?
In truth, the answer is ‘yes’ to all three of these questions. For Christ-followers, believing Jesus is the Way, Truth, and Life is a core part of our faith. Yet, it’s also true that every person on this planet, Christian or not, is a blessed son or daughter of God. The Bible is very clear on that. The world is full of good men and women, all deeply loved and cherished by their Creator. God’s Truth is indeed universal and can be found in countless places across the globe. Creation itself speaks of God’s Truth. Good is everywhere, God is as well.
But hear this.
Jesus of Nazareth, for those of us who “believe” is, without a shadow of doubt, the truest Son of God, positioned exclusively, not by what we believe, or by what the Church says, but by His own accord, at the right hand of God, the Father. By His own declaration, Jesus said that He is the only Son of God who can be qualified to become Lord, or Messiah, for this broken world we live in. Note that Jesus did not say that Truth cannot be found outside of Himself. But what He did say is that those who seek Truth and Salvation will find it in Him…alone.
Admittedly, this exclusiveness within Jesus’ claims is often very offensive to our God-given desire to be fair and just, treating everyone around us with the respect and honor by which children of God should be treated. And, it’s this rub of exclusivity that so very often seemingly contradicts the very Truth we are all seeking.
So, what’s one to do?
As I see it, the key phrase in all of this brouhaha is the phrase…
I believe in…
Which now takes us back to our earlier blog posts (see Session 5). You see, if I believe in something, the fact that you or others don’t believe in that same thing, really shouldn’t impact the belief I’m choosing to have!
(Unless, of course, I’m so insecure that I become unglued when others don’t believe the things I believe in.)
So, in a world where 84% of the world’s population (5.8 billion people) believe in God and 32% (2.3 billion people) call themselves Christian, why am I so unnerved and skittish, acting as if I’m all alone in my faith in Christ?
Oh yes, I know. there are some in conservative Christianity who tell us to go and preach to others, telling them that they are all going to hell without Jesus. But you know what folks, I’ve read the New Testament carefully, and I’m not sure that this ‘hell-n-damnation’ message that’s become so popular with zealous Christians is the most productive evangelism tool found within its’ pages.
I’m just thinking out loud right now, but what if we took this part of The Apostles’ Creed (and Jesus’ claims of exclusivity) and plant these words so securely within our own bosom (like I believe it’s meant to be taken) and then go out into the world, finding creative new ways to display the love of this Savior so that others (68% of the world’s population) will feel honored and accepted rather than being told that they are losers headed for hell. How about if we find ways of being the Good News instead of the bad, inviting fellow earth-dwellers into friendship with the Master rather than beating them over the head with our Bibles, attempting to drag them into this one-way salvation, kicking and screaming the entire way?
Just a thought. Exclusive as it might seem!
My prayer: Jesus, somehow, someway, I believe that I can hold firmly and unswervingly to Your claim as being the only Son of God, my Savior, without becoming a zealous, condemning and angry voice in a world full of religious confrontation. Father God, allow me the wisdom and discernment to become a person of peace, never sacrificing Truth, yet finding God-given grace to love and respect others, even if they choose to believe differently than me. For Your name’s sake. Amen.
My questions to consider: So, what might it look like for me to bring the Good News of Jesus’ salvation message to those who are put off by the claims of exclusivity so often preached by religious zealots? What will holding onto Jesus’ truth look like for me as I live in a world where so many other saviors are readily available?
So, what are you experiencing today as we are Contemplating The Creed?
Over a seven-week period, you and I will take a deeper look at The Apostles Creed. In order to keep all the blog sessions organized, we suggest you bookmark our Contemplating the Creed home page for ease of use.
If you like what you’re reading, might we suggest you share this page with others!