“What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds?” (James 2:14a)
“Did you hear about so-and-so?” “Yeah, he’s gone too far! We might as well say, ‘Farewell.'”
Too often, whether or not we want to admit it, we (Christians) function as though we believe that we are saved by what, in fact, we believe. We live as though our theology is what determines our salvation.
We are quick to say that we are not justified by our works. But the first person to question the doctrine of justification, in our honest opinion, is toeing the line of actually being a Christian. “Oh, it’s a slippery slope from there, friend,” we tell those individuals.
And with those that we agree, we talk about those “back-sliders,” saying, “Yeah, it’s sad; he’s going down that ‘Rob Bell-path.'” Or something similar.
We look at certain individuals as being less Christian, simply because they do not have the same theology as us. For some reason, we believe that our beliefs are the very beliefs that will secure our eschatalogical salvation.
We say, along with everybody else, “God told me that this is true.”
In the grand scheme of things, though, what matters? How we treated the man on the side of the road, or having the right doctrine? How we lived like Jesus, or nailed down our systematic theology? Are we justified by our faith, or by our theology?
Now, I am far from saying that we should not consider our own beliefs! Otherwise, I would not have pursued a Master of Divinity. Rather, I am suggesting that we should not be so quick to question other people’s salvation, simply because they don’t align with us theologically.
And no, neither am I’m saying that we should not discuss theology with those whom we disagree. But there is a time and a place for that. It should come from the heart. It should come through discussion, not through conceited bigotry.
We should be quick to love, not quick to judge. We are known for being judgmental to outsiders, yet we are just as judgmental to insiders.
May we sing along with Hillsong United, “So I won’t waste my breath, if it’s not for love.”