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Sunday School taught me that a Christian is a person who has “asked Jesus into their heart”, has done the ABC’s: accept, believe, confess.  I am wondering if this was perhaps an incomplete explanation of being a Christian (By “Christian” I mean one who follows Christ, not necessarily an adherent to the established religion called Christianity).

The Bible says that even the demons believe.  According to my upbringing (and I believe, according to Scripture), we are to accept Jesus as our “personal Lord and Savior”.  I’m definitely not the first one to say it, but I think it’s pretty obvious that many who call themselves Christians embrace the “Savior” part, while the “Lord” part falls by the wayside.  I think Jesus was pretty clear on expressing that he desired for the church (his bride) to be set apart, to be a light in the world, to be different from everyone else.  It looks like that’s where the Lord part comes in.

Being a Christian is not just accepting the potential risk and purchasing fire insurance.  It’s not a “get out of hell free” card that you get and keep for later.  It is obedience. 

Of course we aren’t perfect, and He knows that, and has already allowed for it within the gifts of grace and mercy.  However just because the parent of a 3-year-old knows that their child will not be perfect in obedience does not mean that the parent does not still expect it.  The parent expects obedience, but realizes that their child is not perfect.  If the standard was lowered, then would the child still have something to strive for, something to encourage continual improvement?  If the standard was lowered, then perhaps the behavior would worsen accordingly.

Just throwing a theory out here… perhaps the reason God holds such high standards for His children is to give us something to strive for.  It seems to be human nature to adjust our efforts to the expectations.  If the expectation is a fourth-year university-level paper, then we have a certain level of effort.  If however the expectation is an explanation of why you didn’t enjoy your chicken carbonara on a restaurant customer satisfaction survey, then you likely won’t be pulling an all-nighter surrounded by stacks of reference materials and resources, with your handy reference guide at hand to ensure your citations are correct.

That said, I want to ensure that my efforts in following Christ (which is simply a natural response to the grace that He has given to me) are less and less hampered by sin.  I want to be continually transformed to be more like Him, and for this I must resist the devil.  I must believe the Truth of Jesus Christ over the lies of Satan.  I choose to continually resist my sinful tendencies and allow Christ to mold me and use me, making me into the child He desires me to be.

Perhaps that’s a better definition of a real Christian.  It seems to have less to do with what you believe, and more with how you live.  Don’t get me wrong – I think certain beliefs are necessary for a Christian… but I do not think they are the foundation on which a Christian is judged.  As I mentioned above, even the demons believe.  So what makes us different?  I think it’s the way we live.

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I’ve been twice now. I really enjoyed it both times- the speaking was excellent, the music was average. I figure there’s no such thing as a perfect church anyway. At least this one seems to be relevant. I was challenged to go home and apply scriptural principles to my life. Isn’t that what solid teaching should do? It’s been so long that I’ve forgotten.

My only question with the church is surrounding their perspective on global missions. I’ve heard some stuff from others (mostly negative), but I’m waiting to hear next week’s message, which seems to be quite timely with respect to my question. It’s titled “Why Africa?”.

I’m really looking forward to it.

By Brian McLaren

(with comments below by the author of this blog)

***

Once upon a time, in a land of boredom and drudgery, exciting news spread: “There is going to be a race! And all who run this race will grow strong and they’ll never be bored again!” Exciting news like this had not been heard for many a year, for people experienced little adventure in this ho-hum land, beyond attending committee meetings, waiting in lines, sorting socks, and watching sitcom reruns.

Excitement grew as the day of the race drew near. Thousands gathered in the appointed town, at the appointed place. Most came to observe, skeptical about the news. “It’s too good to be true,” they said. “It’s just a silly rumor started by some teenaged troublemakers. But let’s stick around and see what happens anyway.”

Others could not resist the invitation, arriving in their running shorts and shoes. As they waited for the appointed time, they stretched and jogged in place and chattered among themselves with nervous excitement. At the appointed timethey gathered at the starting line, heard the gun go off, and knew that it was time to run. Then something very curious happened. The runners took a step or two or three across the starting line, and then abruptly stopped. One man fell to his knees, crying, “I have crossed the starting line! This is the happiest day of my life!” He repeated this again and again, and even began singing a song about how happy this day was for him. Another woman started jumping for joy. “Yes!” she shouted, raising her fist in the air. “I am a race-runner! I am finally a race-runner!” She ran around jumping and dancing, getting and giving high fives to others who shared her joy at being in the race.

Several people formed a circle and prayed, quietly thanking God for the privilege of crossing the starting line, and thanking God that they were not like the skeptics who didn’t come dressed for the race.

An hour passed, and two. Spectators began muttering; some laughed. “So what do they think this race is?” they said. “Two or three strides, then a celebration? And why do they feel superior to us? They’re treating the starting line as if itwere a finish line. They’ve completely missed the point.” A few more minutes of this silliness passed. “You know,” a spectator said to the person next to her, “if they’re not going to run the race, maybe we should.” “Why not? It’s getting boring watching them hang around just beyond the starting line. I’ve had enough boredom for one life.”

Others heard them, and soon many were kicking off their dress shoes, slipping out of their jackets, throwing all this unneeded clothing on the grass. And they ran—past the praying huddles and past the crying individuals and past the jumping high-fivers. And they found hope and joy in every step, and they grew stronger with every mile and hill. To their surprise, the path never ended—because in this race, there was no finish line. So they were never bored again.

***

I love this story. It may seem overly obvious to some, but for me it is an excellent reminder and encouragement to keep plugging along on my spiritual journey, and to not become complacent, thinking I’ve done the “minimum requirements” to get to heaven.

There is so much more to the Christian life than stepping over the starting line. It is a whole incredible journey that I don’t want to miss. I want to travel as much as I possibly can on the journey, seeing all the scenery I can, experiencing all that I can, and learning new things every day.

In this way then, I need to continue to grow and move forward in my journey. This is where spirituality comes in. As I walk/run/am carried down the road, I grow closer and closer to my saviour, thus becoming more and more like Him, glorifying His name like I was created to do.

This is my purpose.

In lurking on other peoples’ blogs, I came across a fascinating discussion.

I find it interesting that the advice columnist identified himself as “non-religious”, and yet seemed to offer much insight into the writer’s dilemma, even seeming to “get it” much more than many Western Christians today. A blogger has commented on it here, and the commentary and discussion are quite interesting.I have struggled with this issue for several years now. I don’t know anyone (besides my husband) who is willing to engage in this sort of discussion. I am glad to find this blog and some people who are at least willing to raise the questions, not fearing the possibly uncomfortable response.

It is in fact an uncomfortable discussion for most of us middle-upper class Christians. I ask these questions with as much criticism of my own lifestyle as of anyone else’s, and desire to find a satisfactory answer for my own conscience before inspecting the speck in everyone else’s eyes. I live a fairly comfortable life. I can’t afford to buy a house, but I can afford to rent. I never go hungry, or have to wear clothes with holes in them. Though it would not be the most financially wise decision in terms of trying to save for school, etc, I can afford to go out for dinner or a movie pretty much whenever I feel like it. I could go to IKEA and spend $30 here and there, without landing myself on the street next month, without money for rent. I have access to credit cards and bank loans in case of emergency, and am never lacking the basic necessities of life (water, food, shelter, medical care).

Here is my question: Is it right/moral that I should live with excess (going to movies, eating dinner out regularly, buying “wants” in addition to “needs”, etc) when so much of the world is living and dying of starvation, preventable diseases, etc? And only because they lack money. Money that I spend carelessly on myself, which could instead be saving lives. The Bible commands us to help the poor, seek justice, and love one another as ourselves throughout the scriptures. Clearly we have some sort of moral obligation. I just don’t know where to draw the line. Do I have to stop spending on everything except the basic necessities, and give the rest to the poor (become Mother Teresa)? Are we all supposed to live like Jesus? Or Mother Teresa? I haven’t ever met a Christian who would say yes to that question. And yet none of them can tell me why not.

I’m seriously needing some answers here.

I'm Red, he's Honey. I'm the writer of this blog and the source of your entertainment and/or boredom. We're parents of an exceptionally adorable child, and we have no idea what we're doing! This blog is the outlet for my thoughts along the way - welcome! Pull up a couch, grab a cup of tea, and stay a while! Or back away slowly. Whatever works.




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