“In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him” (1 John 4:9).
IF LOVE IS A SUBJECT THAT CAN BE STUDIED, IT IS CERTAINLY THE MOST PERSONAL SUBJECT IN THE WORLD. We are taught that God loved us so much He was willing to take upon Himself our fleshly form and die for our sins. This is no abstract thought or theory. This is a personal transaction if there ever was one. God, the only perfect personal Being in existence, has done the most personal thing imaginable for personal beings whom He created. Isn’t it astonishing that we can take this, the most stupendous act of love, and reduce it to little more than a doctrine to be believed? And yet, that is what we do. We talk about Christianity as if it were just an ideology, a body of ideas. And we find that what we’re devoted to is not really God, but various ideas about God.
As Paul spoke of his own faith to his younger friend Timothy, he spoke not only of what he believed but of whom he believed: “For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day” (2 Timothy 1:12). Granted, we can’t believe in God without accepting a certain amount of factual information about Him. But ultimately our faith is not in the information. However essential the doctrine of God may be, its purpose is always to foster a personal faith in God Himself. As an old man who had suffered much, Paul could say that his confidence, and therefore his ability to withstand hardship, were firmly rooted in God. It was not merely a true philosophy that Paul was willing to die for. It was a beloved Person.
In our study of God, it’s easy to get lost in the details and forget what the whole thing is about. Satan would surely like to pull our focus away from God and turn our religion into nothing more than a subject to be studied or a proposition to be debated. We must resist this temptation. And even if we’re more actively inclined and we see religion as a cause to be supported or a service to be rendered, it’s still important for us to keep our heads and our hearts in the right place. Christianity is not a dogma. Jesus Christ is not a doctrine. It is a real kingdom, and He is its real King.
“Christianity is not devotion to work, or to a cause, or a doctrine, but devotion to a person, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Oswald Chambers).