A person does not need to self-identify as a Christian in order to know God or Christ or the Love the pervades and sustains all existence. God will not be controlled. Christ will not be contained. Love will not be owned by any person. And thank God for that! Central to Christian teaching and theology is the simple affirmation that God may be directly known by trust and hope. Indeed, Christ taught that anyone may personally know God, who he affectionately called Abba, within the hidden depths of their heart through faith—before and beneath and beyond outward appearances or signs or surfaces or stereotypes. This intimate, relational knowing originates at a gut-level, immediate and unmediated by anything or anyone.
You may know God directly—and nothing whatsoever can possibly separate you from God, who is Love. Not death. Not life. Not angels or demons. Not things in the present or things in the future or any powers. Not the highest heights or deepest depths. Not even dogmas or institutions or religious traditions or anything else in all of creation could possibly separate you from the powerful love of God that has been displayed by Christ Jesus. This is at the heart of the Christian gospel. And it is a message that, ironically (and thankfully) enough, subverts the ultimacy of even the best and the worst of Christian religious traditions. For the Divine Love revealed in Christ could never be controlled or contained or owned by anyone—not even by Christians. This is one reason why it is so crucial that Christians learn to adequately distinguish the essence of Christian faith and spirituality from the many Christian religious traditions that have been (hopefully) formed around it. Failing to make this distinction can create countless misunderstandings that limit and distort the good news that Christ proclaimed.