Religious folks communicate to others certain beliefs necessary to be accepted by God or have a relationship with God. We know it doesn’t matter whether you are baptized much less how you are baptized. A loving God wouldn’t love people based on if they have been dunked or sprinkled? Such beliefs may make sense to church folks but others rightly have a difficult time believing such a thing of a loving God. Whether you think God has a litmus test for acceptance impacts discussing God with others.
Does one have to believe in God to be accepted by God? The first chapter of Romans in the Bible has been used to suggest all who don’t believe in God are suppressing what they know to be true. Actually, the writer refers to those who don’t doubt but ignore God and morality to justify their wicked ways. Let’s not accuse those who believe in a God as needing a crutch and those who question the reality of an invisible God of being wicked and not knowing their feelings. If it is a sin to doubt God exists, then Christians sin if they doubt God in troubled times.
Jesus spoke out more against the religious than the non-religious. Religious leaders during biblical times distorted and make religion self-serving rather than self-sacrificing. The Pharisees insisted on certain sacred beliefs which Jesus wanted no part of. I suppose the Pharisees besides liking to be in control assumed God had certain requirements before God would accept you. Jesus wasn’t killed by atheists or those who didn’t go to church. Religious leaders who prayed daily and went to church a lot begged Roman authorities to put Jesus in the grave.
One doesn’t even have to believe in the resurrection to be accepted or have a relationship with God if so desired. Jesus chose twelve men to be His closest friends for support. They saw Jesus perform miracles included raising people from the dead. Jesus even told them He would come back from the grave on the third day after crucifixion. His disciples still weren’t convinced even after seeing Jesus (Mt. 28:17). If Jesus’ disciples, who made personal sacrifices to follow Jesus around, saw Jesus and doubted then people 2000 years later can question whether the resurrection actually took place. I believe the historical evidence is very credible but we each have our own reasons whether to believe in such an event or not.
Some can’t logically wrap their heads around Jesus being both man and God. Exactly how does one do that chromosomally? Isn’t it logically impossible to be God and not God? Some may simply believe Jesus was an extraordinary man who represented God well. I am not convinced there are any sacred beliefs that God demands. God’s only plea is what most of us want for ourselves and loved one – to love others as we want to be love, to go the extra mile in relationships for the possibility of healing.
I am convinced there is Creator of the Universe; others may not be convinced. If such a Power exists, they don’t need my help convincing others there is such a God. We don’t have to convert others to Christianity or to believe everything in the Bible. John Hick suggest in a pluralistic world we might: “Consider the belief that there is an ultimate transcendent Reality which is the source and ground of everything…that the universal presence of this Reality is humanly reflected (‘incarnated’) in the lives of the world’s great spiritual leaders; and that among these we have found Jesus to be our principal revelation of the Real and our principal guide for living (The Metaphor of God incarnate, 187).