What are your thoughts on encountering other religions and cultures? I ask as an American living in an Asian country with a coworker who asks the most obscure questions about the Bible. She’s Buddhist and believes in Confucianism. I’m not concerned about how she tries to convert me to Buddhism and Confucius thought, but how much our discussions make me feel like a horrible Christian. I walk with God as best I can, but I’m not sure how to answer her questions. I want to ask her, “Does it matter?”
This is a thought process that a lot of people got caught up in, so it is worth cutting the legs out from under. The fact is: having Bible knowledge is in no way synonymous with being a good Christian. (The concept of “good Christian” could be trouble in and of itself, but we all can relate to what you meant.)
Jesus says that the thing that identifies His disciples is how they love one another (John 13:35) and that what matters most is how you treat people, specifically people no one else cares about (Matthew 25:31-46). Those are about living things out, which you very sharply hint at in your question. You can have extensively studied the minor prophets in the original Hebrew and still not be loving or serving anyone in the name of Jesus. Conversely, you can not be entirely sure whether Ephesians or Galatians come first and still be living out the life Jesus is calling you to.
You can use your coworker’s questions as reason to look up some Bible trivia, and that can be an interesting thing. You can also just chalk it up to “I don’t know, maybe we can look it up.” Of course, some of the questions your coworker has probably don’t have concrete answers. Nobody knows the details of Noah keeping the animals from eating each other. More importantly, there are probably a number of questions coming your way about why God did certain things that no one can answer for sure.
Bible knowledge is a good thing, but it is in no way the pinnacle of Christianity. The church has developed this system where education is heralded as the most important thing The people who are in charge are often the people who are the most naturally apt students (which is kind of insane if you think about what a pastor’s job is actually about) so we are left with a cycle of people and institutions justifying their own (sometimes quite expensive) educational standing.
1 Peter 4:8 says “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” Love is the main thing about Christianity. Knowing the word of God is an essential tool to learning ways to love God and love people, and perhaps most importantly, to learning more about the ways that God loves you. But bible knowledge for its own sake isn’t necessarily a holy thing.
-Matt from The Bridge