“Standardized” Christianity

10 04 2013

One thing that baffles me is the standardized test. You know how it works: every year a test is given to children through the public school system. The tests are graded, and each child is ranked by his or her scores. (Hang in there, I’m going somewhere with this!)

I could see the value in such testing IF:

Each child were given the exact same information in the exact same way by the same teacher

Each child had identical life experiences:

Had the same parents

Had the same type of personality

Learned in the same way

Paid attention at the same time(!)

Met all the same people, had the same friends

Read all the same books

Seen the same TV programs and movies

Heard the same radio programs or conversations

Had experienced the same illnesses, traumas, injuries, and deaths

Lived in the same culture (even America has many sub-cultures)

Think about all the input we have every day in so many ways. What two people do you know who share identical knowledge? I can’t think of any – even in my own family of seven children. One or the other always came up with information that no one in the house knew.

How, then, can we administer a “standardized” test and accurately evaluate who’s the smartest? Which child do we choose as the standard? Does this seem absurd to anyone besides me?

In the same way, Christianity can’t be “standardized” either. [Read on before writing me off as a heretic, please!]

Of course, there is only ONE way into God’s family. That is by acknowledging our sin and imperfection which separated us from a holy God, accepting that Jesus bore the punishment for that sin – He took our place on Death Row and was executed instead of us. When we receive His gift of salvation, we are reconciled to God and He now calls us His child and “friend.” That still amazes me.

No amount of money, work, or any “good” behavior can pay anyone’s way into heaven. (Good by whose standard, by the way, ours – or God’s?) As the Bible says, what do we have that we did not first receive from our Creator in the first place? It would be like trying to pay off a debt by using the Lender’s checkbook. That won’t work.

The entrance into heaven is only as wide as the cross. There is no other way. Period. Jesus said it, and He meant it.

Beyond that, however, our relationships with Him are as varied as the people on the planet. The same list of requirements for standardized testing in schools applies to our understanding and walk with Him.

You see, I don’t think God owns a copy machine. I don’t think He’s ever made the same thing twice in all His existence. Blades of the same type of grass have variations that are unique to each one. Snowflakes? Same thing. Even identical twins are not truly identical. Very similar, sure, but never exact.

It is for this reason that we can’t standardize Christianity either. He relates to and teaches each of us in a way that is unique because each of us is a special blend of personality, experiences, culture, and genetics. That’s why a hundred people can hear the same sermon and come away with a hundred different understandings of what was said. It all gets filtered through our life experiences, and thus has unique nuances for each person.

I used to become distressed whenever I met another Christian who had a different understanding than I did about God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, or theology in general. It became my task to get them on the right path (making me the standard to which they must conform). That didn’t go very well; I frustrated and/or offended many people.

Praise God! Even my own understanding of the Lord has changed over the years. I don’t want those old beliefs back – ever!

How does He communicate with you, I wonder?

For me it’s hummingbirds, heart-shaped rocks, thoughts that pop into my mind, mental pictures, beautiful sunsets. We talk, we dance together (although if you watched, you’d think I was dancing by myself!), He opens my eyes to understand His Word and show me the treasures He has tucked away in them.

I don’t have it all figured out yet – I agree with very little that I “knew for sure” when I began this blog in 2009. In another four years, I probably won’t agree with all I “know for sure” now. That’s part of the growing process, and even the most mature believer still doesn’t know it all.

Just as a human body is made up of a jillion cells, each has its own function and purpose, so the body of Christ is made up of a jillion individuals – each with their own function. We need each one. Let’s seek unity in the body – not uniformity. Christianity can not be “standardized!”

 

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6 responses

9 05 2014
isaiah41v10

Really enjoying reading your blog (which I found through Mel Wild’s).
God has blessd me with close friends in wildly different denominations – from Pentecostal to cessationist. It’s beautiful to be part of the body of Christ, to pray together and know how much we truly have in common when we love Jesus. It makes me look forward to heaven even more. ‘Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.’ 1 Cor 13:12b

10 05 2014
lessonsbyheart

It’s fun to be part of a vastly unique body of believers, isn’t it. It took a long time for me to understand that different is not bad, but actually necessary for the work of Jesus to be carried out.

Thanks for stopping by I love Isaiah 41:10, and am leaning heavily on this promise at the moment. 🙂

\o/

13 04 2013
Kevin

I like this post, made me think of what we do. Seems we tend to focus on our differences, which of course leads us away from what we have in common, Jesus Christ. Praise God I bet life is much sweeter now than back then. Plus, the only way to know how smart our kids are, ‘ask the parents’ lol

13 04 2013
lessonsbyheart

lol. Mine are brilliant, thank you very much 😉

Thanks for your comment – I always enjoy reading your articles, BTW.

Yes, life is so much sweeter now. I quit trying to straighten everyone else out and get them to see things my way. I can extend to – and more importantly, receive from others – grace as we try to explain our unique points of view. What a load off my back! Have a blessed day, dear brother. May the Lord keep the road clear before you, making the crooked places straight and the rough places smooth!

13 04 2013
Kevin

Mine are brilliant- you sound just like our heavenly Father…

13 04 2013
lessonsbyheart

Hmm. So do you! Gotta’ love Him!

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