You can safely assume you’ve created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do.”   Anne Lamott

It is funny to me how many people start off a conversation about Christianity by saying … “well … the bible says” thus and so.  They might not know the proceeding verses or the context in which it was said, but they know certain verses by heart.  So many Christians use the Bible as a weapon rather than a tool.  Which makes me wonder what they would have done before the Bible was published.

Let me at the onset say I personally believe the Bible is the inspired Word of God.  I believe it is an irreplaceable manual for life.  I believe we get to know God more deeply and intimately by studying the Bible.  I further believe we become more Christ like by burying the Word of God in our hearts and allowing it to be the guiding force and directive in our lives.  I believe the scriptures inside the bible are sacred and it is absolutely the most important book ever published or read.

But the thing many people rarely consider is there actually were Christians BEFORE there was a bible.  So let’s think about this a moment.  Before there was a bible, how did people spread the message of Jesus Christ?  Before there was a listing of right and wrong behaviors, when the Apostle Paul was still Saul the killer of Christians, how did one become a Christian?  There was no John 3:16 to reference.  The salvation scriptures found in Acts, Romans, Philippians, Hebrews, 1 Peter, etc. had not been written, much less published.

All they had back then was Jesus Christ himself and the personal knowledge of him or personal accounts of him and what he had done.  This is where Christianity starts.  This is the root, the foundation and the very cornerstone of Christianity.  Who do you believe Jesus Christ to be?  So in light of Jesus Christ being all they had, what are the things Jesus taught?  What are some of the things Jesus DID NOT teach that are being taught in our churches today?  Did Jesus ever teach anyone was beyond redemption?  Did Jesus ever teach his death would not be sufficient for certain individuals?  Did Jesus ever teach to exclude anyone?  Did Jesus ever teach that you must change in order to be worthy of his sacrifice on the cross?  The answer would be No. No. No. and again No.

By stating “the Bible says” many, many people are missing the boat.  They are getting the cart before the horse.  They are promoting religion rather than relationship.  When actually what is biblical is to introduce an individual to the person of Jesus Christ.  Let that relationship begin to grow and watch the individual be transformed.   You do not help someone “get saved” … you introduce an individual to your friend, Jesus Christ, and let them build a relationship.  Through that relationship they are redeemed, changed and saved.

I think some Christians are uncomfortable with this philosophy because they want salvation to be cut, dry and within their control.  Some do not like it when a person of whom they do not approve or agree has a relationship with Jesus Christ.  Somehow salvation and redemption being available to whosoever is threatening to them.  They choose to believe, and wrongly so, that heaven will be filled with people just like them and no one else.   They would rather limit God and choose to believe certain people cannot be saved.  Certain people are beyond redemption.  Some choose to believe this because their definition, understanding and experience of love is so shallow they cannot understand the depth of Christ and His love.

The bottom line is if we quote the Bible at nauseam.  If we know every scripture reference ever identified … if we know the name of all 66-books of the bible … if we know all the feasts, all the 10-commandments in order, all the tribes of Israel or how long Methuselah lived, and we fail to accurately recognize, accept and believe in the genuine person of Jesus Christ, the bible scriptures are nothing more than chalk in the rain.  Inspired by God, yes, but sadly they are eternally worthless outside the person of Jesus Christ.

Christianity is not a religion … it is a relationship.  If we, as Christians, would stop judging those who are different from us long enough to give them an opportunity to establish a relationship with Jesus Christ, God would do amazing things in the lives of ordinary people. Amazing. Things.