September 5, 2019 – What is Christianity all about?

What I read today;

2 Timothy 4; John 1; Jeremiah 1; Psalm 35; 1 Samuel 18; Exodus 20

Non-Christians often have misconceptions about what Christianity really is.  Many have come to believe that the Christian religion is a set of rules.  Don’t do this, don’t do that, attend church, be a good person and on and on.  Because of that misconception, there is a growing segment of our society that has never stepped foot inside of a church.  Those who’ve left the church now run away from the church as fast as they can.  Some of them now openly opposing the church.

These people have come to this conclusion because that is what they’ve witnessed from Christians that they know and those that have been put forward as leaders in the national news.  The problem is that inside of many churches the love for dogma and theological debate outweighs what is truly important in the lives of people outside the church.

They come to view the church as a body that condemns people.  Many of these people have felt that they’ve been judged by the church at one time or another in their lives.  They’ve become the harassed generation that Jesus spoke about who’ve been driven out of the kingdom

The truth is we really have a hard time telling people what the church is all about.  We point out our beautiful buildings, our Pastors great sermons, or our social justice ideals, our theological purity or the dinners we’re sponsoring.  While those are so very important inside the church, to a non-Christians, it doesn’t get the point across of who we truly are and what we’re about.

I think the reason we miss the point when we talk to non-Christians is that we don’t talk to people about Jesus.  In fact, we talk about everything but Jesus.

What if we changed the way we presented the church to non-believers.  What if we used scripture like John chapter 1 to show people what we were really all about?  We could not do better than to break down John chapter 1 into bite-sized chunks.

First, John 1 vs. 1-5 “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.  All things came into being through him, and without him, not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people.  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.” NRSV

Simply put, we believe that the creator of the universe left paradise, stepped out of heaven and came to the earth on a mission to bring salvation for every man, woman, and child, into a dark and hurting world!

Second, John 1 vs. 10-14, “He was in the world, and the world came into being through him, yet the world did not know him.  He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him.  But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God,  who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God. And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.” NRSV 

That means that Jesus came to our world on a mission to make us children of the living God.  He came in spite of the fact that we not only didn’t ask him to, but we outright rejected him.  He did it so that we no longer had to look at God as this judgemental tyrant.  Jesus did it because God wants to be our loving father.  Now thanks to what Jesus has done for each one of us that is possible.

Finally, John 1 vs. 16-18, “From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.  The law indeed was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.  No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father’s heart, who has made him known.” NRSV

The most incredible part of the story is that Jesus freely gives us this gift of grace.  Jesus didn’t come to impose a new rulebook for our lives.  He wasn’t some self-help guru who was running around promising peace, joy and economic prosperity for our lives if we just paid three easy installments of $99.95 and received his program.

No, he came to set us free from the guilt and shame that separated us from a holy God.  He came to kick down the door of sin once and for all.  Today he freely offers that to a lost and hurting world that surrounds each and every one of us.

We’re all going to have different opinions about biblical interpretations, theological dogmas, and social issues.  That’s just part of the human existence.

Wouldn’t it make more sense to talk about the one thing that connects us rather than the multiple things that divide us?  How many more souls would be gained by telling people about the man from Galilee, who stepped out of Heaven because he loved us so much that he would lay down his life in our place and provide us a way to see the face of God!

What change could we truly see in our church our society and our world if we were to re-focus everything we do and say to show Jesus every day!

 

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