God is not a Christian
The definition of Christian is “someone who believes in and follows Jesus Christ.” While Christian theology may posit that God sent Jesus to the world, such an act does not make God a Christian. In the same manner, God is not a Buddhist, nor a Muslim, nor a Hindu. God is not a Jew. On the other hand, Jesus was, indeed, a Jew. But he was never a Christian.
Many Christians believe they “possess” God, but in their expression, they unwittingly admit there is more than one God. I often see songs, prayers, and other writings that refer to “Our” God. A line from a popular song says, “Our God is a mighty God.”
Christians argue there is only one God, and no others. Yet, they suggest there must be others that belong to non-Christians. They suggest these other gods are not as “mighty” as “their” God. Possession means something is mine, but not yours. Such thinking is strong evidence that humans have created God in their own image, rather than the other way around as written in the Bible and expressed by theologians.
With God as their exclusive possession, some Christians claim to know God’s will. This exclusivist claim is often imposed by force, to make others conform to their idea. The line between God’s will and their own is muddy at best. If your beliefs lead you to attack others, verbally or physically, you need to re-examine your assumptions. You are not Christian.
You have no right to impose your beliefs on others. It’s one thing to have standards, and believe in what you think is right. Doing so does not make it the single way of understanding the world.
Years ago, I was approached by a young man who was Buddhist. He asked my purpose in Korea. I told him I was the pastor of a nearby church. He challenged me. He wondered why I thought everyone must be a Christian. He asked why I thought all Korean people had to convert to Christianity.
I told him I did not think so. My ministry was not about member recruitment, but about building relations with friends and neighbors, sharing common ground, building communities of love and acceptance. I told him that if he was a Buddhist, then he should be the best Buddhist possible by faithfully following the teachings of the Buddha. He was surprised.
Christian teaching that Jesus is the only way to salvation, that all must believe in Jesus or burn in hell, is a
Christian construct — and a clearly conservative, narrow view of the Bible.
The teaching is not empirical truth. The passages in the Bible, the New Testament specifically, were written by believers. They were not written from a scientific, provable method — but through the faith of those who already believed in Jesus. Such an approach does not make a universal truth.
Through nothing more than an accident of birth, I was raised in a Christian environment in the United States. I’ve attended church all my life. My ancestors, at least as far back as a thousand years ago in Europe, were Christians (often not by personal choice, but the force of church or government rule, but Christians nonetheless).
At some point in my young adult life, I made a conscious choice to continue my faith journey through the setting of Christianity. But in many respects, I’m a Christian because I was born that way. But my tradition alone does not define God. It points me toward the Divine (call it God in my Christian vocabulary).
Equally, many in Asia were born Buddhists. Many were born Hindu. In the Middle East (and some other areas) many were born Muslim. In what is now Israel and in Europe, as well as the U.S. (and some other places), many were born Jewish. The list goes on. Stories of conversions by compulsion abound in many cultures, many nations, many regions.
Concreteness in life is a never-ending pursuit. Many cling to religious traditions that provide concrete, clear-cut answers to all of life’s questions. Some of the answers are, “it’s God’s will.” That is enough for many.
I, too, like to know what’s in store for me. I want to have some semblance of confidence in my future path. However, when it comes to matters of faith, I’m learning that abstraction is the rule. I’m learning that what I thought was clear-cut is not so.
The more I study, the more I learn, and the more I amass life experience as I grow older, and I find that God and faith are more abstract than I’m comfortable with. But my discomfort is no excuse for hanging on to what I learned as a small child in Sunday school.
If God is so powerful as Christianity teaches; so ever-knowing, so ever-present, then Christians must let go of “our” God. They must let the Divine, Supreme Being, Great Power of the Universe simply be who or what that is. Let God be God. Let the rest of us be guided by the excellent teaching of all the world religions: Do to others as you want them to do to you.