We all have our own beliefs and doctrinal stances. We may interpret the Bible differently on certain points. We certainly want to pass our faith on to our children, but how do we do this and still teach them to respect different doctrines? I’m not talking about totally different faiths. I mean the differences right here in the beautiful body of Christ, the church.
Here’s how I tackle this question with my own kids and grandkids. I teach them that salvation is based on one thing and one thing only: our acceptance of Jesus’ gift of forgiveness when He died on the cross and rose again. That’s it. I also pray that their acceptance and love of Jesus will lead them to baptism.
Some may want to add to this short list of salvation requirements. What about living a good life? Of course we try to live our lives to please Him as best we can, just as we want to please anyone we love, but we all fall miserably short. So salvation can’t be based on who lives a good life. Nor can it be based on doctrine, because if doctrine were that important, God would have made the “right doctrine” crystal clear in His Word. There are lots of ways to interpret the Bible. Everyone thinks their way is the right way. But 2 Peter 3:9 tells us that God “does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent” (NLT). God’s not playing a game of cat and mouse. He wants us all to be in His kingdom. The one thing He doesn’t mince words about is how we can do that. “Anyone who believes and is baptized will be saved. But anyone who refuses to believe will be condemned” Mark 16:16 (NLT). Pretty straightforward. And again, in John 3:16 we read, “For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life” (NLT).
It’s all about Jesus, God’s Son. Nothing else. We either believe in Him or we don’t. Want eternal life? Then believe in Jesus. Want to be condemned and perish? Then don’t believe in Jesus. It’s that simple.
I imagine the heartache God must feel when churches badmouth one another or when one denomination thinks it has a corner on the truth over all the others. We’re all a part of the body of Christ, even with all our flaws and differences of opinion. We should be overjoyed that we belong to this awesome family of God. We should come to the communion table together, despite our schisms, and eat and drink just as we would at a loving family reunion.
So when my kids see someone worshiping or interpreting the Bible differently than we do, I hope they’ll cling to what they’ve been taught, but be grateful that the other person loves God and has a heart of worship. I pray they’ll respect them for their faith and encourage them in their walk with God. I want them to embrace the person as a fellow child of God, not keep them at arms’ length because they have a differing doctrine. It’s an opportunity to experience a rich foretaste of His coming kingdom.
I believe we’re all going to be blown away by who we see in God’s kingdom when Jesus returns. There may be people of different faiths who I didn’t think had a chance of being there. And sadly, there may be some who aren’t there who I was sure would be, though I doubt we’ll even be aware of such things at the time. On that great day, I don’t think who’s there and who’s not, or doctrines and worship styles will even enter our minds. Jesus will completely fill our vision and our hearts, even as He should today.