Christianity is a scary beast. If you look at it as a code of conduct, immediately you are confronted with a shopping list of don’ts. If you look at it as a philosophy, well it is counter-intuitive in more ways than you have fingers and toes. If you look at it as a way of life, then your world is turned on its ear. No matter how you slice it, Christianity doesn’t fit with our society or culture. Or does it?
It’s going to take some adjustment. I’m not going to sugarcoat this aspect. Yes, there are many elements of Christian thinking strewn about philosophies and religions in this world, but no matter how close they may seem, they’re all missing the most critical point. God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to die for the transgressions of the world about two thousand years ago and there was nothing you could do and nothing you can ever do to earn that favor. It is called grace and it alone is enough to wreck anyone’s worldview. Understanding how to fully accept this gift as well as submit yourself to give it out to others will take you your entire life. But, take heart, there’s a silver lining here.
We have the Bible. Yes, it’s a big book with no pictures and thousands of verses, but contained within are the very words of God. Not only do we have the words of God, we have the words He inspired several very godly people to write down for us long after. The Bible contains everything pertinent regarding living the Christian life in love. The book covers every situation in life and is written for people from every walk of life. It is the greatest selling book of all time and we have it at our disposal every day.
“‘I did not say these things to you from the beginning, because I was with you. But now I am going to him who sent me, and none of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.
‘I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.’” — John 16:4b-15
Don’t underestimate the Holy Spirit. On that note, don’t be afraid of Him either. I’m willing to bet that if you’re anything like me, even the idea of the Holy Spirit is foreign, but knowledge of the Spirit is crucial. The Spirit is there with you every moment of every second of every day once you accepted Christ into your life. He is both speaking the Truth of God to your soul as well as constantly praying for your soul’s deepest desires. Oftentimes, we mistake Him for our old conscience, but that is only because He is now an integral part of us.
“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” — Hebrews 10:24–25
Community is everything. Just as God used people like David and Paul to write down His Word, He uses people daily in our lives to enlighten us to new truths as well as reiterate old ones. Without community, we are merely a ship alone in the middle of the sea. This is never how God intended life to be. God Himself is never alone, so why would He create humans in His image to be alone? We need one another for guidance, support and to experience both giving and receiving grace and forgiveness. I wish there were words to express this, but I can only persist in my insistence on its paramount importance. Lacking this crucial element, we are but Pharisees.
“‘I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.’” — John 16:33
Living the Christian life is a daunting task, but we have been given all we need. First of all, God graciously gave us His word, the Bible. Contained within is a sort of road map or manual covering the journey from point A to B and everything in between. Then, God has also given us His Spirit so that we can understand the truths contained in an otherwise nonsensical book filled with counter-intuitive parables and guidelines. We are under constant loving care because of the Spirit without even being aware of it. Finally, God delivers His grace to us though others and vice versa in community. He knew that alone we cannot stand and He doesn’t expect us to, so He gives us kindred spirits to accompany one another along the arduous journey throughout life. Do you, dear friend, make the most of all three of these? If not, then truly Christianity is a scary beast.