I spent this past weekend camping with some family members. Leaving there Sunday, I was a little dismayed. I love the woods and I think God uses nature as one of the primary ways to speak to me, but I left the campsite without even a parting whisper from Him. It wasn’t until several miles down the road it hit me. The purpose of this trip, the words He was speaking to my soul was the realization that once again, life has gotten too complicated. I’ve burdened faith with appearance, cast it aside with temporal concerns and battered it with superfluous practices. Bottom line: camping this past weekend symbolized my need to return to the bare essentials.

What are the bare essentials?

That’s an excellent question, but ultimately one I’ll answer over the next few weeks as I answer it for myself. As I said, I only realized I’d strayed from the essentials yesterday, so I haven’t had much time to process. However, I can’t imagine those essentials being without prayer, community, Bible reading or giving back to the community.

“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” — Ephesians 2:8–10

We start with grace

Without grace, there is no Christianity. Without grace, we have karma and Christianity is no different from any other religion, maybe it’s worse. I’m not claiming grace to be the clinching factor in making Christianity right. No, I’m saying that before we start with essentials, we have to understand of what we are returning to the essentials. It is grace that we have chosen to receive and (without going too deep into theology), it is by grace we were chosen to receive it. Do we laud the poor person accepting the handout or the rich person who gave, so the poorer might have? In the same way, we can’t take credit for what has been given again and again to us freely. I’ll expound more on this Thursday, but I will say it one more time: it is imperative we understand grace before we understand the essentials of faith.

What are your essentials?

Friends, what do you consider to be essential to your faith? What are the aspects without which you could not do? What does grace look like to you? Have I put the cart before the horse in considering grace before the “essentials”? Friends, I’m asking for your feedback. Through this site, you can find me on Twitter, you can find me on Facebook, you can find me on Google + and you have my email on the About page. Send me a message, let’s start a conversation. It’s only through conversation will this thought become more than just a casual wondering.

Happy Monday, dear friends.