When I look back on my life, I find that the seasons of greatest spiritual and intellectual growth have occurred when "believing to belong" was not a mandate or condition for receiving Love and enjoying fellowship. That "season" is now a perpetual way of life for me, and has been for quite some time.
Conforming to any organization's dogmatic doctrinal demands (many of which are highly contested in other spheres of Orthodox Christendom) in order to maintain a position, a paycheck, and prestige never brought me true freedom and kept me within the constraints of the understanding of the highest man on the denominational totem pole, whether he was dead or alive.
Jesus never shuns those who approach Him and the Scriptures with doubts and serious questions that are not welcomed in much of the Western "Christian" world.
Refusing to be conformed to "this world" (systems...See Romans 12:1,2) includes a refusal to be conformed to religious systems which will not allow for personal and collective transformation (i.e.- Growing in Grace) through the ongoing renewal of the mind.
I can tell you from experience that coming to God with serious doubts, fears, admitted ignorance, and tough questions regarding the Scriptures hasn't destroyed my faith (I understand that it is His Faith. Nevertheless, I am speaking in terms of personal growth in His Faith to the best of my understanding...along with what the English language will allow). It has only solidified it and made it stronger.
I have also learned that all of the answers to my questions don't come directly from God. He has designed his Ekklesia/Body in such a way that we must rely heavily upon inter-dependence. An understanding of that has brought me greater experiential Joy and caused me to find great treasures outside of my own formal Theological training and limited ecclesiastical, and personal experience and studies.
Another important lesson that I have learned is to be wary of environments where Monologue is King, Entertainment is Queen, and Meaningful Dialogue is the Neglected Peasant.
While I may expound upon this topic in a more lengthy writing or video, these are my brief thoughts for today.
With over 33,000 denominations professing Christ, it's important to be a life-long student of the Spirit and the Word (To include an understanding of History, Culture, Language, and Audience Relevance).
If we are to take our beliefs and ourselves seriously, we must know and learn Jesus for ourselves and be willing to admit that while our family, our church leaders, our seminary, and those with whom we affiliate are worshipping the right God, there are plenty of Christians whose doctrines are obviously wrong on many levels.
The chances that we were born into a family with perfect doctrine is a virtual impossibility. The same holds true for the "brand" that we were "born into", believe that God placed us in, or simply chose for ourselves...especially if our choices were based on programs, good singing, pretty people, great coffee, or "liking the pastor".
Over 33,000 denominations??? I understand that that number is contested. However, It's safe to say that we shouldn't feel bad about professing that the Holy Spirit is our primary "Bible Teacher", questioning whatever we believe to be questionable, and humbly acknowledging that our group may not have all of their theological ducks in a perfect row...regardless of what Grandma, the Pastor, or the Denomination has been saying for centuries.
Doing this doesn't shake our FAITH IN JESUS, it simply allows us to KNOW HIM MORE and to live fuller lives!
Unless we've been deceived into believing that our church leaders have absolute perfect theology, the content of the previous paragraphs certainly shouldn't cause us to lose respect for God-given leadership in the Body of Christ. In fact, our level of respect and graciousness should increase once we acknowledge that we all have imperfect, yet growing understandings of the Perfect Christ...Who enjoys revealing Himself to ALL people!