queueThe post “I Want In” rises out of long wandering in the desert of doubt. It is part of my story, but it is not me today.

I have found faith, albeit weak and often faltering, in Jesus Christ as my Lord and God. I affirm the Nicene Creed, with a little P.S. at the end… “Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief.”

I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.

And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds; God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God; begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father, by whom all things were made.

Who, for us men and for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the virgin Mary, and was made man; and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate; He suffered and was buried; and the third day He rose again, according to the Scriptures; and ascended into heaven, and sits on the right hand of the Father; and He shall come again, with glory, to judge the quick and the dead; whose kingdom shall have no end.

And I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of Life; who proceeds from the Father and the Son; who with the Father and the Son together is worshiped and glorified; who spoke by the prophets.

And I believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church. I acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins; and I look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come.

Amen.

But I have discovered that getting through the entrance isn’t as simple as affirming a 1700-year-old creed.

I find myself in a strange half-way-in-but-not-quite twilight zone. It’s like going through customs. You’ve landed in the new country, but you have to get through the checkpoint.  People dressed as guards troll the lines, scowls plastered on their faces, quizzing the travel-weary.

They insist that the Nicene Creed isn’t enough. Which means they have forgotten what their Bibles state in 1 John 4:15,” If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God.

Instead, they demand all manner of add-ons.

…Do you affirm and defend this version or interpretation of the Bible?

…What do you believe about the Bible itself?

…Is x denomination of God or of the Devil?

…What about the role of women?

…How do you define justification and predestination and lots of other words ending in -tion?

The guards push and shove people to the front or the back or a different line, even back out into the desert, based on their answers. All around me, I see interrogating, brawling, weeping, leaving, being driven away, over things far removed from the council of Nicea.

It gives me pause. It is frightening and confusing.

I know this: Jesus said that following him is simple enough that a child can understand.

Jesus said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth,
because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned,
and revealed them to little children. Matthew 11:25

Why are they making it so complicated? How do I sift through all the competing opinions and find the simple truth of the gospel, the good news?

And especially… why are people so angry? Why all the fighting?

How can any human being know the true state of another human being’s heart? Can a human being ever truly understand their own heart, let alone another’s?

The heart is deceitful above all things,
and desperately sick;
who can understand it?
I the LORD search the heart… (Jeremiah 17:9-10)

Have we forgotten what we believe about God? What we affirm in a centuries-old statement of the good news?

God alone can open our eyes, show us the way, and make us like Him. God promises to make me the person He wants me to be.

He loves each of us, no matter what we’ve done, what we are doing now, and what we will do before we are finally in His presence. This is grace — being loved in spite of ourselves by a love that redeems every hurt and every sin and makes beauty out of it.

That is what God does – He makes beauty from ashes.

Perhaps we attack one another because we think we are responsible to transform one another. We take matters into our own hands and attempt what only God can accomplish in another person’s heart.

If we as Christians are to be God with skin on, should we not be characterized by grace for one another?

Instead of condemning and driving people away, should we not rather say, “We believe you are making a terrible mistake, but we love you. Jesus loves you. We want what is best for you, what will make God look large. We know that He will do that in your life, one way or another. We are here to help you through that sometimes painful process, even if…no, especially when you mess up. God is able to redeem it all for His glory.”

Do you trust God to make beauty from the ashes in me? In you?


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