Why Should We Go to Church?

Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. – (Acts 20:28, NASB)

In this modern day and age, there are so many different types of churches and denominations that the actual Word of God can get lost very quickly. We are in a day where churches do everything to interest newcomers: some have espresso carts in the lobby, some have full musical performances for their “worship” services, and others just try to entice you with friendly faces and special programs.

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Hopefully your church doesn’t look like this. (Photo by Thibault Trillet on Pexels.com)

Isn’t Church Just a Big Hangout Spot?

When I first started this blog, I didn’t actually go to church. My family attended church when I was much younger, and I attended private school for kindergarten into 1st grade but, not long after that, we stopped everything. I do recall attending church (or at least, sunday school and AWANA) with my neighbor when they babysat me, and I didn’t like it  at all. When I got older, I knew that the Bible said that I should go to church, but I held a great distrust of many churches for the type of material that they teach. My favorite “church” was really just a conference of speakers, elderly men, that was almost antiquated in its simplicity.

Why would that have been my favorite? I trusted what they were preaching. I don’t like churches that do not proclaim the Word of God. I don’t like churches who partially portray the Word of God. I don’t like churches who sugar coat what they are saying to make it pleasing to the ears.

So, perhaps it is out of a general distrust, perhaps it is secretly underwritten by a dose of pride, and perhaps it is just out of a lack of availability that I hadn’t found a church that I actually wanted to attend. But more so, apart from the actual biblical command to go to church, I didn’t see a reason for it. One of the churches I briefly attended prayed before the offering, as most do, and the whole prayer sounded like a plea for donations. Right or wrong, this led me to think, “If you truly trust God to provide, why are you begging your congregation for money?

This brings me to a few days ago, when I was sitting in church during the graduation service. Not the graduation where diplomas are handed out, but a special service congratulating the high school and college graduates and giving a special prayer for their lives going forward.

At that moment, it dawned on me that I finally understood what church is for.

Now, anyone should immediately know that church is for coming together, honoring God, worshipping Him, and fellowshipping with other believers. That part never alluded me.

Then, what more is there? – You may be asking.

Understanding Church

I had an entirely wrong attitude about church, as I think many other Christians or would-be Christians (let alone, atheists and agnostics) have. Many people, myself included, viewed church almost as this place where you go and put on a front for other believers.

It’s the place for people who call themselves Christian to go hang out and gossip with and about other people who call themselves Christian (or not). They pass around the offering plate, maybe they do some social programs, a few youth group activities, and perhaps the pastor lives in a nice house.

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And if you’re Joel Osteen, you live in a really nice “house”. (Photo by Mikes Photos on Pexels.com)

All the while, I was missing the fact that this is not what church is all about. Not even close. And it definitely isn’t about “becoming the best you”, “diversity” or “tolerance”. Before you shake your fist at me or write an angry comment, it’s not to say that none of those things have a place within any given church, but that’s simply not what the church is for

My dad and I went to an organ restoration concert at a church we’d never gone to before that is part of a denomination whose churches we never attend, but we didn’t really know a whole lot about either. Needless to say, I don’t feel inclined to know any more than what I learned that day.

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Amidst the beautiful organ music, played by accomplished organist Dan Miller, they sang a few hymns. One or two of them were well known, classic hymns such as Holy Holy Holy, and I was fine with that. Towards the end though, the songs started becoming about diversity, acceptance, and even singing multiple times about the organ itself. There’s nothing inherently wrong with true diversity, true acceptance, true tolerance, or the instrument that all this music was being played on. But apart from the fact that this was not about true diversity, acceptance, love, or tolerance, we were supposed to be singing worship songs! Why on earth would we want to worship any of these social issues, regardless what you believe about them?

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The True Purpose of Church

A while back, I was listening to the radio and there was a woman’s program on, and she was talking about a woman who had brought concerns to her about not having time to minister. Basically, the woman’s predicament was this –

I have to be a wife to my husband and a mother to my children, I just don’t have the time to go out and minister to people and be a good witness as I’m called to be. What do I do?

The woman hosting the show gently advised that the woman was already being a witness for God, through being a good wife and mother. Remember, as we’ve talked about before, everything not done in faith, is sin. Doing something in faith doesn’t automatically make it good, but doing something not in faith automatically makes it sinful. Hence, why we need Christ in the first place!

In essence, as long as the woman with the dilemma was being the best wife and mother she could be, by the grace of God, depending on Him, and raising up her children to know and love God, she was being a witness for Him.

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters,Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters – (Colossians 3:23, NIV)

OK, but what does that have to do with church?

Do you remember how Jesus said, “the Sabbath is for man”? Well, church is for man too, to the glory of God the Father.

Are you still with me?

A Community of Believers Worshipping Jesus

I realized, while sitting there at the graduation service, that the church body wasn’t just a group of people from the same city as me who liked taking time out of their Sunday to sing some songs and hear a guy speak.

That isn’t to say that no one who attends church is attending for those simple reasons, but it’s not the true, core meaning.

Church is about a community of believers, worshipping Christ together, and supporting one another in faith and in life. It was when it hit me that we were sitting here, having a separate graduation service from the one their school held for them, to congratulate all these kids and pray for their future.

  • Someone had taken the time out to write up interview questions for each of these kids.
  • Someone had taken the time out to make record each of these kids walking around and partaking in their favorite activities.
  • Someone had taken the time out to edit each of those videos to make them professional-looking.
  • Someone had taken time out to make a separate flyer to hand out with the bulletin.
  • Someone had taken the time and money to purchase books to give as gifts to each of the graduates.
  • Someone had taken the time out to compose a prayer for these graduates and write up a few words to say to each of them personally.
  • And lastly, the whole congregation was together as a church family to watch the videos, hear the words, pray the prayers, and congratulate each of these kids.

A whole separate graduation program for the church body to show their support for these kids!

It wasn’t necessary – they already had or would have a graduation ceremony from their school. They were the kids of one of the parents, but they weren’t my kids, or the pastor’s kids, or the kids of the other deacons, or the kids of the music director. . . Really, outside of church I didn’t know any of them. The majority of the church was not technically related in any way.

Yet, we were all sitting together, in support of them.

Although, biologically, I have no relation whatsoever, they are brothers and sisters in Christ. They are children of brothers and sisters in Christ. The whole church body is related through Christ.

Working Together for God’s Glory

As a church family, as a church body, as a church congregation, we are like our own separate community. We are a community of believers, working together to support other believers. We are working as the hands and feet of Christ. We are loving each other in Christ. As the body of believers, we make up the bride of Christ.

In an almost twisted way, it’s kind of like what people envision “real” communism or socialism to be. We are supposed to pay in (tithe) because it’s all God’s money anyways, and the church uses it to redistribute the wealth to those in need and pay the pastoral staff for their services.

It’s not communism or socialism because, first and foremost, no one is forced to give up their wealth or possessions. Biblical tithing can only be done as a willful act of faith based on the promise that God will provide for your needs.  Biblical tithing is also a minimum of 10% whereas communism or socialism would forcibly take whatever percentage they chose up to 100% with the promise that the government would then provide for your needs, which generally results in poverty for all.

The Real Reason for Church

Church is where all the believers commune together to benefit and support each other as a community, to the glory of God the Father. We learn about Christ together, we worship Him together, and we support and love (including holding accountable) each other because of faith in Him. God is glorified when we do that.

If you are skeptical towards attending church, or have attended church before and were turned off by the experience, I would urge you to pray and try again. Seek out a church that puts Jesus Christ first and foremost. Pray for guidance in finding that church. God didn’t give us the gift of the church body so we could get free coffee. God didn’t give us the gift of the church body so that we could listen to fun music, or learn new skills in church that we didn’t have an opportunity to learn elsewhere. We have the gift of the church body so that we can work synonomously together as the bride of Christ to ultimately become one with Him.

But, I’m a Good Person!

And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone.” – (Luke 18:19, NIV)

There is a belief that has been around probably since the beginning of time, that generally goes as follows:

I should be able to go to heaven because overall, I’m a good person.

It seems logical enough, doesn’t it? A good many people seem to believe this, if the internet is any indication. I’d like to hope that isn’t the reality, but the internet spans quite a number of people so I’d be inclined to wonder…

The idea is that if we are generally “good”, then we ought to be allowed entrance into heaven. We shouldn’t be turned away, and we certainly shouldn’t be subjected to an eternity of torment. The question is, how do we determine what qualifies as “good”, and what then qualifies as “good enough” – to get into heaven?

Well, so far we’ve touched on this point in a roundabout way a few times now, but I figured I’d do one more post to really spell it out, just in case.

There are a couple problems with this line of thinking. It’s easy to see how many people struggle with it because of all sorts of methodologies devised to avoid it. For example, many believe that everyone can work their way into heaven with enough good deeds, or maybe enough good deeds to outweigh the bad in a sort of 60/40 mindset. Others believe that God sent Christ to die for all people, therefore everyone who isn’t evil or wicked will be saved. You know, not the really bad guys but – everyone else. Some believe that Christ died for all people and therefore everyone will be saved regardless.

It’s fascinating to me that many people hold a strong objection toward the idea of needing to believe in Christ in order to be saved. That is, they will accept that He saved them – as long as it applies regardless of whether or not they choose to believe in Him. Oftentimes, it goes back to an argument such as this: I am a good person, so Christ’s death should save me also, even if I don’t believe in Him, if God is all-loving.

Now, I have never heard any one person use that specific argument. However, I’ve known of many people who have a general belief that if God is all-loving, He must save them too regardless of what or who they do or don’t believe in. He must save everyone, except those really evil people!

Well, we are again brought back to a point of, “Who determines what is good?” and, “Who determines what is evil?” and furthermore, “Who determines what qualifies as good enough to enter heaven?” This is where it comes back to the original argument – Well, I’m better than these people, or these people, or even most Christians I’ve met! Should I rather be like you – bigoted and hypocritical?? 

Ouch.

I haven’t heard that particular argument said to me directly, but I’ve seen a variation of it and heard the gist of it before. Sometimes not with the last part, but almost always with the first.

Now, sometimes people will go back to the 10 Commandments, or the golden rule. That is, don’t murder, don’t steal, don’t lie, treat others the way you wish to be treated… So if they keep those, they are good, right? They overlook all the other commandments, but that is not the point. Some people will also throw in other characteristics that aren’t listed – ones that they may even accuse many Christians of being, but that they don’t consider themselves to be – bigoted, judgmental, sexist, homophobic, etc. So what’s the problem with that person? He or she is clearly a “good” person, and may even be a better person than me! I should be the one ashamed and they should definitely be the one to enter heaven.

But, again. What qualifies as “good enough”? Why is it that we Christians think we are somehow good enough to be qualified to enter heaven, yet we think that these other people who are maybe even more morally upright than us, somehow aren’t? How can we be so utterly arrogant as to make such an implication?

Well, we aren’t “good enough”.

But, how then can we claim that we will go to heaven? How can we possibly claim that we are going to go to heaven and everyone else will go to an eternity of torment?! That’s ludicrous to suggest, right? What arrogance!

Now on the other hand, someone might see a Christian who is truly a living witness. They are living as Christ lived. Meeting them is almost as though you are meeting Christ face-to-face. Well, they should be good enough, right? Granted all Christians are called to be living witnesses, yet not so many are – and I do not exempt myself from that at all. I am absolutely not the living witness I should be. But, I and many people can see that my dad is like that. He is still goofy and silly, but at his heart he has many Christ-like qualities. And everyone who knows him, loves him, and appreciates all he does. So, going back to the idea of being good enough, am I suggesting that my dad would not even qualify? Is he not good enough to get into heaven??

No. He’s not.

How can I say that? How then do I qualify what is good enough?!

Well, that’s the question at hand, isn’t it? What is good, and what then is good enough? Well, I don’t decide what is good, let alone what constitutes good enough. God does. It’s His heaven. I am not the judge of who goes in, He is. That said, none of us are the judge of who enters, only Him. Only He can say who is good enough to enter heaven. But, this brings us back to the original argument, “Well, He should think me good enough since I am not like all these other people!”

Do you know the real heart of the matter? It’s pride.

Pride tells us that we should be good enough, pride tells us that we should be able to work our way into heaven. Pride tells us that at some point, we should be deemed good enough unless we know we’re really bad. Now, I can’t say, “And that’s fine,” but I can say that it’s understandable because we are all proud.

Now, with this idea one might be inclined to say, “I’m not proud! I don’t walk around all cocky like so-and-so! I am not a narcissist!” I know that I would certainly be saying that myself if someone just claimed that I was proud! I would say there’s no way. In fact, I’m largely self-defeating – isn’t that the polar opposite of pride? I put myself down and see where I fail more often than I build myself up and see where I succeed. How can that be prideful?

Well, this is where our human definition is different from God’s definition. And deep down, we are all proud. We don’t want to admit it, and we, like myself, often may not even see it. But it’s there. Pride is what makes us want to be like gods. Not in the fashion of Zeus or some other false god, but rather in the characteristics that God holds. He is not accountable to anyone. He is not dependent on anyone. He is (literally) better than everyone else. He makes the choices. He has the final decisions. He says, “This will happen this way,” and it does. He is worthy of respect, glory, honor, and praise. He issues rewards and punishments. He knows literally everything.

What God says goes, every time.

Now, think for a minute with me. Regardless of how mopey we might feel at times, regardless of how self-loathing we might feel at times, or regardless of how good we feel about ourselves at times, let’s look at these characteristics.

  • When was the last time you wanted to be treated with respect, if not demanding it?
  • When was the last time that you wanted to be or feel independent of others?
  • When was the last time that you thought, in some way, that you were better than someone else?
  • When was the last time that you wanted to have the final say on a particular decision?
  • When was the last time that you – secretly or openly – wanted recognition or praise for something you’d said, done, or even just how you are?
  • When was the last time you wanted to tell someone what to do?
  • When was the last time that you thought you knew how to handle a particular situation better than someone else did?

Is it possible that you wanted one or more of those…today? Yesterday? Within the week? Have you ever felt like that? This is where pride really rears its ugly head, because even when you seem the opposite of proud, you can almost certainly agree with one or more of those above points. This is where I am convicted! I frequently use self-defeating humor and often I feel what seems to be the opposite of proud. And yet, when it comes down to it – boy, do I ever get angry when someone cuts me off in traffic, or tailgates, or when someone gets recognition for something good that I said or did at work!

How dare they?! Who do they think they are?!

Have you ever had a thought like that? What follows that line of thinking? We sometimes stop there – accusing the other person of thinking that they are so high and mighty. Yet, underlying that is frequently, if not always, a thought that they are doing it to us. We “do not deserve“to be treated that way!

Consider when we see someone cut someone else off in traffic. Or speed excessively. Or run a red light. What’s our reaction then? When it isn’t happening to us directly, we might have a similar reaction of “Who does that person think they are?” or “Gee, they think they own the road, don’t they?” but we typically won’t get fuming mad if it is happening to someone else. Why is that? Why don’t we get just as mad to see it happening to someone else as we get when it happens to us? Or, alternatively, why don’t we stay as calm when it happens to us as we do when it happens to others?

More so, why don’t we hold ourselves to the same standard? If we are getting tailgated, we might get furious at the person doing it. We might do things like slow down to make them angrier (guilty…) or make a (hopefully not) obscene gesture at them, depending on how well we can keep our calm. But, if we are tailgating someone, well, we have a reason for it. We are trying to get somewhere! It’s important! THE BANK CLOSES IN 10 MINUTES, CAN’T YOU GO ANY FASTER?!

Again, it’s because when it happens to us, the perception is that we are being slighted. It is almost like a sort of personal attack, offense, or insult against us! But when we do it to others, we justify our behavior. We have reasons for it. And if someone gets mad at us for the same behavior that we get mad at, well, they’ll just have to deal with it. Or, if they would just hurry up, or move over at least!

OK, I went off on a pretty big tangent, but you can see where it goes. Traffic, incidentally, is a great illustration for our pride. We get behind the wheel and often morph into someone vastly different than who we are face-to-face. But it all boils down to the same thing – we think we’re important! We think we are important and that we deserve respect. We take disrespect personally and it angers us.

Now, how did Christ feel?

This is a very tough pill even for a believer to swallow. We get so angry about petty things because we think ourselves of high value. We think ourselves worthy of respect, and maybe even praise.

We think that we are good people. Yet, we’re not.

We all sin and we all do embarrassing, faulty, shameful, reprehensible, perverted, deceptive things. If we are truly honest with ourselves, we can admit that we have all done things like that. Maybe we haven’t done all those things. Maybe we don’t do them that much or maybe not that bad. That doesn’t matter – we still do them.

We think that we are good because we want to be like God. We want to be so much like God that we want to act as our own god. I am not exempt from this behavior and likewise, other believers aren’t either. We all have the sin nature, and we all have the desire to act as our own god. We all have the desire to be like God, not to know God. We want to make the decisions, we want to show we are better, we want to be worthy of praise and respect, and we want to think that we are good.

Well, it’s not an easy think to accept, which is I think why so many don’t. Again, there are so many methodologies and theories to try to get around this because our pride blinds us to the fact that we even have it! We think we are good people, so we don’t want to see that we are, in fact, vile. Job, a man “proclaimed blameless and upright” by God Himself was overtaken with self-righteousness. When God confronted him on it, he said:

Behold, I am vile; what shall I answer you? I will lay my hand on my mouth. (Job 40:4, AKJV)

I think that one of the biggest things that keeps people from believing in Christ is accepting that they are actually not “good” people. But, Christians are no different. None of us are “good people”.  The reason we turn to Christ is simply that we don’t see ourselves as being good enough to enter into God’s presence out of anything that we can possibly do. We can’t say enough, do enough, serve enough – nothing that we do or say could ever possibly be enough to deem us worthy to enter God’s presence. There’s only one Person who is. His Son. His Son, who lived a perfect life on earth only to sacrifice Himself in our place. Because He knows we aren’t perfect, and He knows we aren’t good enough – and never could be. He knows that the only way that He can bring us into His presence is to provide the only worthy sacrifice – that is, Himself.

God’s Dictionary vs. Man’s

Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful. – (John 14:27, NASB)

Do you ever notice that the things of God don’t mean quite the same as the things of man? Christ spoke about what He had to offer, and specifically, as in the verse above, how it wasn’t like what the world had to offer. For example, worldly peace and worldly joy is based almost entirely on circumstances and events. The peace and joy that Christ gives we can have in all times and in all situations.

Not only that, but when He gave His interpretation of some of the ten commandments, they were quite different from what we typically have in mind. In fact, He proclaimed that getting into heaven was basically impossible – without God. Evidently, His interpretation was also quite different from that of the Jews of His day.

Now, I can’t say I know His whole dictionary or anything, but I would say that a huge part of coming to understanding the Bible, etc is to understand God’s definitions in contrast to our human definitions.

I personally speculate that some of the biggest misunderstandings with unbelievers starts merely at the definitions. It seems so basic, and yet if we miss it, it can change our entire perspective. This would be merely a problem in getting people to believe, if it weren’t that some who claim to be Christian also have these same problems! I think this is partly where a lot of cultic beliefs and false religions come from. I would definitely say that some come from intentional malevolence (desire for power, money, etc), but some could also come from misunderstandings. Even those that don’t originate from misunderstandings seem to be well fueled by them. A person may be confused about a particular issue, and if a group has an appealing solution, the confused person might be very drawn to join that particular group.

Even if someone doesn’t fully join a cult group, I think many people develop a similar way of thinking but minus a specific doctrine. For example, someone may decide that they believe in annihilationism, but not become a Jehovah’s Witness or Seventh Day Adventist or any other group that adheres to that belief. I disagree with annihilationism, but we’ll discuss that another time.

So, what is the difference God’s dictionary and man’s? Well, let’s first understand that man only knows what man knows! It may seem that I’m stating the obvious, but pride makes it very easy to overlook that. When we give thought to things that we are well aware we know nothing about, it’s easy to admit. For example, I could not even begin to tell you how to build a car. I know it. I only have vague knowledge of the parts that are even in a car, let alone how they all go together. I am not ignorant enough to try and tell anyone how to put a car together as though I have any knowledge or understanding myself. That’s no problem.

It’s a whole different story, however, if it comes to something that I do know, such as how to drive a car. I can’t drag race or drift around corners, but if someone starts telling me how I should drive, or implying that I can’t – we might exchange some words! (And if we did, that would be my pride showing its ugly face.)

I personally think that the same thing comes up with the definitions of God. We know how to love, we know how to trust, we know peace, and joy, and faith. Right? We know all these things. “Been there, done that.” I suspect that was roughly also the attitude of the Pharisees and Sadducees. Yes, they wanted to hold their power over the people, but Christ was also treading on their teachings themselves. He wasn’t just saying they were hypocrites, He was saying they weren’t good teachers, either. Now, that’s not all He said that was inflammatory, but even if He didn’t also claim He was God, His statements would have still been offensive to them.

So let’s get on with it, shall we? Let’s take a look at a few words that don’t quite mean to God what they mean to us.

Pride

Webster’s Definition:
: a feeling that you respect yourself and deserve to be respected by other people
: a feeling that you are more important or better than other people
: a feeling of happiness that you get when you or someone you know does something good, difficult, etc.

Man’s Definition:
Pride is something good, as long as it doesn’t lead to narcissism or someone too cocky. We typically say things like, “You should be proud of what you’ve done.” And we say, “Take pride in your work,” and, “Be proud of who you are.” Generally speaking, we value pride in ourselves and others, as long as it doesn’t go too far. We feel we deserve respect and we like to feel important. We know we are better at certain things than other people, and we enjoy showing things off and receiving the admiration that results. Many people don’t think they are prideful, except maybe when they’ve done something particularly great. Independence and self-sufficiency are sought after and valued amongst all.

God’s Definition:

This is what the LORD says: “Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches, but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,” declares the LORD. (Jeremiah 9:23-24, NIV)

Pride is sin. This isn’t true every possible application of the word (as shown above), but the vast majority. Pride is at the heart of pretty much every sin, and it’s what tells man that he doesn’t need Christ. He doesn’t need God at all. He can do everything himself, why does he need God? Pride says that man doesn’t need salvation, he is a good person, so God should accept him as-is. Pride tells man that he worked for this, he obtained this, he did all the work and should take all the glory. Pride doesn’t acknowledge God having any part in anything. Pride is not thankful to God for anything because pride completely removes God from the picture. Pride tells man he can do all things – but doesn’t include, “through Christ who strengthens me”. Pride says that if you need God, you must be weak, but “I don’t need God.” Pride drives people towards independence and self-sufficiency and keeps them from God. Pride robs God of glory that only He deserves by proclaiming that we did everything ourselves. God hates pridefulness in man.

We should instead be proud of the God whom we serve, and the wonderful things He does. We should be proud of Christ our Savior, and the miraculous works He’s done for us, in providing the sacrifice for our sins.

Love

Webster’s Definition:
: a feeling of strong or constant affection for a person
: attraction that includes sexual desire : the strong affection felt by people who have a romantic relationship
: a person you love in a romantic way

Man’s Definition:
Love takes various forms. There’s love between a man and a woman, love between a parent and child, love between siblings, love between friends, love of pets, etc. There is the loose form of “love” which really means, “like very much”. For example, one might “love” their coworkers or even “love” a particular meal. There is also the misapplication of love, which is actually “lust” or “infatuation” and some even misapply it to mean “obsession”. Generally speaking, we use the word “love” to mean we care very deeply for someone. However, it’s often conditional in the sense that we may love someone we are dating, or a spouse, or even a child/parent, but if they do something to hurt us or hurt us too often, we may stop loving them.

God’s Definition:

For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them. (Luke 6:23, KJV)

God is love. Many people know “what love is according to God” via 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, which states:

Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails… (1 Cor. 13:4-8, NASB)

As Dr. Benjamin says, you can replace “love” with “Jesus Christ” in the above verses and get a better picture of who Christ really is. That said, He died for us while we were sinners. It’s not that we stop sinning and then He starts loving us, He loved us from the beginning and loves us despite all the ways in which we have, do, and will wrong Him. God pours out His love on all people, even those who continually reject Him. As Matthew 5:45 says, He gives rain and sun to both the just and the unjust.

Sin

Webster’s Definition:
: offense against religious or moral law
: an action that is or is felt to be highly reprehensible
: an often serious shortcoming : fault
: transgression of the law of God
: a vitiated state of human nature in which the self is estranged from God

Man’s Definition:
Sin is basically anything immoral or unethical. Theft, murder, adultery, lying to cover something up – the big stuff. “Little white lies” generally aren’t considered wrong. Eying another man/woman while married often isn’t considered wrong (“look but don’t touch”) depending on the couple, taking pens from work, those generally aren’t considered “sins”. Gambling may or may not be deemed a sin depending on the person, and sometimes people will imply other things as “sinful” behavior. Largely, if someone is talking with a Christian they will refer to the ten commandments as “what is sin”.

God’s Definition:

He [Jesus Christ] went on: “What comes out of a person is what defiles them. For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come—sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and defile a person.” (Mark 7:20-23, NIV)

We are born into sin. Sin is of separation from God and results in physical dying and spiritual death – that is, separation from God for all eternity. Jesus said that our thoughts alone make us sinful, not merely our outward physical actions. Having evil thoughts but not acting on them is still sin, because it is representative of our overall sinful nature.

Of course, this list of sins does not include the most important commands Jesus gave, which is:”You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind. And, Love your neighbor as yourself.”. According to Jesus, we are to love God with our whole being and love those around us to the same extent we love ourselves. So, if we are not doing that, it’s also sin. Not all sins are against other human beings (even though the majority are), but all sins are against God.

Time

Webster’s Definition:
: the thing that is measured as seconds, minutes, hours, days, years, etc.
: a particular minute or hour shown by a clock
: the time in a particular area or part of the world

Man’s Definition:
Well, there’s “that time of day”, “that time of night”, hours, minutes, and seconds on the clock, or days, months, and years. Time is what ticks by and we have to try to make the most of it before our time runs out. There’s the time in which we do things, and the time in which we rest. A time for work, and a time for play. Time causes us to age and time is “what heals all wounds”.

God’s Definition:

For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night. (Psalm 90:4, KJV)

God is outside of time, in eternity. We as humans can’t fully comprehend eternity because we have only ever been within the realm of time. God created time in Genesis 1:3-5, so that is all we know. He is not restricted by the time He created for us, and He operates in every instant and moment. That is why a thousand years for God aren’t the same as a thousand years for us. God doesn’t age (except when Christ was in human form on earth and limited by his human nature). He is timeless.

Spirit/Soul

Webster’s Definition:
Spirit
: the force within a person that is believed to give the body life, energy, and power
: the inner quality or nature of a person
: a person
Soul
: the spiritual part of a person that is believed to give life to the body and in many religions is believed to live forever
: a person’s deeply felt moral and emotional nature
: the ability of a person to feel kindness and sympathy for others, to appreciate beauty and art, etc.

Man’s Definition:
The spirit or soul is the life within you that makes you You. We use the words in different ways as well such as, “spirit of independence”, “Christmas spirit”, or “soul food”, and often use them to simply characterize the emotions behind a particular action or thing. Many don’t believe that there is a spirit, or soul. Or, they believe that when someone dies, their spirit/soul dies also. Many atheists believe there is nothing besides the material world we live in consisting of atoms, molecules, and chemical reactions.

God’s Definition:

And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and [I pray God] your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Thess. 5:23, KJV)

God is Spirit, and we each have a spirit/soul. Sometimes the words are used interchangeably, and other times they are not. For example, here is a verse referencing our soul:

And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. (Matt. 10:28, KJV)

And here is a similar verse that instead references spirit:

Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it. (Eccl. 12:7, KJV)

The soul, as it pertains to human beings, can refer to the entire person or just his or her actual soul. And spirit, can be used in a way similar to soul, or it can be used to describe how we connect with God. There are also evil spirits, as in demonic forces. But all spirits and generally, souls, are immaterial.

When we are born into our sin nature, we are born “spiritually dead” but when we come to Christ we are made “spiritually alive”. That is, we are born spiritually separated from the Life Giver, and when we come to Christ we are joined to the Life Giver and thus only then do we have life.

Good

Webster’s Definition:
: of high quality
: of somewhat high but not excellent quality
: correct or proper

Man’s Definition:
Good is the opposite of bad. Sometimes we describe things as good to mean “not great”. We say things “taste good” to mean they taste pleasant and appealing. Sometimes we say “good job”, to mean that someone has done well. People say they are “good” to mean that they don’t think they are “bad”.

God’s Definition:

And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone.” (Luke 18:19, NASB)

God is the source of all goodness. Good is of course the opposite of bad, and that is true of God as well, but to a much higher degree than it means to us in human terms. He is the pure, complete form of all goodness. However, the word translated as “good” in Hebrew also has a sense of purposefulness and functionality. When God created the heavens and the earth and “saw that it was good”, it is to say that He saw it functioned as it was intended. It wasn’t merely unspoiled and pure, it worked as it was designed to. God created us for a purpose so to say that we aren’t good is, in part, to say that we don’t fulfill the purpose for which God designed us. Christ on the other hand is good, being God the Son, and having perfectly fulfilled the purposes of His human presence on earth.

Justice/Fairness

Webster’s Definition:
Justice
: the process or result of using laws to fairly judge and punish crimes and criminals
: a judge in a court of law

Fairness
: agreeing with what is thought to be right or acceptable
: treating people in a way that does not favor some over others
: not too harsh or critical

Man’s Definition:
We perceive that justice should be fair, but sometimes when people are as we perceive to be “monsters” we no longer think about what is or isn’t just and fair. Fair means that everyone gets treated equally. Justice means that everyone gets their “just reward” – the good guys are rewarded, bad guys are punished.

God’s Definition:

Yet the children of your people say, ‘The way of the Lord is not fair.’ But it is their way which is not fair! When the righteous turns from his righteousness and commits iniquity, he shall die because of it. But when the wicked turns from his wickedness and does what is lawful and right, he shall live because of it. Yet you say, ‘The way of the Lord is not fair.’ (Ezekiel 33:14-19, ESV)

God is the source of all justice and fairness. He is the ultimate authority by which all will be judged, but He is 100% fair. However, he’s actually not fair in one way – His incredible mercy and grace. His grace gives us what we do not deserve at all. We all deserve the intense wrath of God for our wrongs, yet God gives us His incredible mercy instead, should we choose to accept it. If we do not choose to accept His salvation by way of Jesus Christ’s sacrificial death on the cross, then we are instead accepting His judgment. However, in His salvation, He is completely fair because Jesus died for all people, that all would choose to accept Him as their Savior. He knows that there are a great many who won’t, but He loves us all with His incredible love and pours out His grace, showering us with His mercy, thereby giving everyone the incredible gift of Himself. For everyone who chooses not to believe in Him, they will be responsible for their lack of response for as the Apostle Paul says:

For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. (Romans 1:20-21, AKJV)

God makes it clear that He has provided ample evidence of Himself through His creation and His moral Law, therefore to not turn to Him requires a willfulness on our part. If we have heard the Gospel and rejected it, it will be on our heads come Judgment Day. If we have not heard the Gospel, but rejected any knowledge of God by His creation, then it will be on our heads according to what we have heard and have known and to what extent we have rejected Him. That said, He will be entirely fair in His dealings and no one will be able to say to Him, “That’s not true!” or, “That isn’t fair!” No one will be able to say, “Why should I be punished?” or “I didn’t know!” because He’s already made it perfectly clear in His Word. And few things will we be able to claim to not know were wrong because we all know His Law:

They demonstrate that God’s law is written in their hearts, for their own conscience and thoughts either accuse them or tell them they are doing right. (Romans 2:15, NLT)

Now, I realize that is a very short “dictionary”, but you get the idea. Our ways of defining things aren’t like the ways that God defines things. It’s not that we are consistently wrong, it’s that we are consistently limited. We only know what we know, we don’t know what we don’t know, and we don’t know how much we don’t actually know! We have limited understanding based on our restricted human nature, and at times even a tainted understanding based on our sinful nature.

It’s easy to see how people can get so confused about things of God, but once we understand some of the fundamental meanings of things as God defines them, we can better understand where some ways of thinking have gone astray.

Most importantly, we should look to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, for the true understanding of God and all things of Him.

All things have been entrusted and delivered to Me by My Father; and no one fully knows and accurately understands the Son except the Father, and no one fully knows and accurately understands the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son deliberately wills to make Him known. (Matt. 11:27, AMP)

The Story of Job – Do We Suffer Because God is Making Bets with Satan?

The Almighty—we cannot find him; he is great in power; justice and abundant righteousness he will not violate. Therefore men fear him; he does not regard any who are wise in their own conceit. (Job 37:23-24, ESV)

One of my favorite books in the Bible is the Book of Job. It seems snuck in there out of nowhere because there’s no real lead up or aftermath. Job is referred to elsewhere in the Bible, but ultimately, the Book of Job seems very self-contained.

Job is a very popular book of the Bible for sermons and discussions on why we suffer. It’s actually an exquisitely perfect book for this purpose – perhaps why it’s in there!

If you’re never read the Book of Job, it’s a bit long but worth a read. The version I’ve linked to is the ESV and I’ll explain why in a moment.

The Book of Job starts by telling briefly about Job, how he is very wealthy and a very righteous man. Job is described as a “man [who] was blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil”. Then it goes on to tell how he has all sorts of wealth by way of servants, herds and flocks, plus a wife and 10 children. We’re told that Job is even proactive by offering sacrifices just in case his children had sinned. Again, “blameless and upright” in every sense.

The story then takes a very odd sounding turn, where Satan joins the “sons of God” who are presenting their selves before Him. God inquires where he came from and Satan says he was walking around earth. Then we see this verse:

Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil?” (Job 1:8, NKJV)

Now, this seems really strange. It reads as though God is literally offering up Job to Satan. Which, Satan then basically replies, “Of course he fears you! You’ve given him all this wealth! You’ve blessed him and all he has – but take it away and he’ll curse you to your face!”

God replies to Satan basically saying, “Fine. Do what you want with everything he has, but don’t do any harm to him.”

Satan proceeds to send in people who either steal or kill his children, flocks, and servants. Job is deeply hurt but does not sin against God.

Then, a little later on, the same thing happens. Satan shows up again, saying he’s been roaming the earth. God now tells him:

“Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil? And still he holds fast to his integrity, although you incited Me against him, to destroy him without cause.” (Job 2:3, NKJV)

Satan responds in a similar way, this time basically saying, “Yeah, sure, but that’s because he values his life more than anything. If you cause him physical suffering, he’ll curse you to your face!”

God now basically tells him, “Do what you will to him, but don’t kill him.”

Job is 42 chapters long, but at the point above, we’re only into chapter 2.

Satan inflicts painful boils from Job’s head to his feet – covering his whole body. His wife even tells him, “Do you still hold your integrity? Curse God and die!” and he reprimands her foolish words.

Verse 10 tells us that through all this, Job still didn’t sin.

In verse 11, 3 of Job’s friends come to visit him and mourn with him. Initially they don’t say anything but then they start to pipe up and the next 29 chapters are two of the friends and Job talking. However, there is evidently a 4th person who is younger and is pretty much biting his tongue until chapter 32. The younger friend reprimands Job and his two friends and sticks up for God through to chapter 38, when God “speaks out of a whirlwind” and rebukes Job Himself (and what a rebuke indeed)! In chapter 42, Job repents and God rebukes his 3 friends (not the younger friend) for speaking wrongly of Him and Job’s wealth and family is restored.

As I mentioned, it’s a very fascinating book. The problem is that it seems to be frequently misunderstood, or not understood at all. The theme that I tend to hear in regards to the Book of Job is, “We may not always understand why we suffer.” I don’t know if this is even consistently followed up with something such as, “but God is in control of all things.” Now, that’s true. But stay with me!

The other argument I hear is typically from skeptics and unbelievers and goes something like this, “So when I’m suffering, it means that God is making bets with the devil?” – said in a sarcastic tone, of course!

Well, I have something that I’d like to point out to you that God opened my eyes to! But first, let’s examine what Job’s 3 friends were saying.

When I first heard the entire Book of Job via audiobook, I wasn’t paying close enough attention to understand what God reprimanded them for. I could understand why He said what He said to Job, but I didn’t see what the friends did wrong.

Later on, one of my favorite speakers happened to mention the Book of Job and in the process, explained. Job’s friends were accusing Job of being punished for sin. They had the assumption wealth, health and happiness came from good behavior, and pain, loss or suffering came from bad behavior. Therefore, Job was clearly being punished meaning he must have done something bad and he had to ‘fess up! This is why I linked to the ESV – the headers over each part of the conversation are very clear as to what is going on – so you won’t miss it like I did!

Job, on the other hand, was kind of basically declaring that he was righteous and therefore how could God do this to him?

God comes back at him with a sweeping, awe-inspiring response that in essence is saying, “Since when did you become God?” It is well worth the time to read even only that portion!

So then, what is the meaning of it? What is the meaning of our suffering, or even the meaning of this book?

Well, there are many possible reasons for suffering. I don’t think Job’s friends were wrong to conclude that it could have been punishment for some un-repented sin (though, assuming they were well aware of Job’s character they should have not assumed that anyway). Remember though, they were declaring that it was always the case. We do know that sometimes God allows hardship as a means of discipline or judgment but that is not the rule!

We could say that the real message of Job is simply, “We don’t know.” We don’t know why God allows suffering. We might retrospectively come to realize a possible reason, or even one of perhaps several reasons, maybe even during suffering we might realize a potential reason for it. We may never know the reason that we suffered because it may not become clear until after we’re dead. But ultimately, we just don’t know. Who knows the mind of God?

While I do maintain that the message of Job is in one sense ultimately, “We don’t/can’t know (because we aren’t God)”, I don’t believe that’s the whole message. Sure, part of the message is, “We don’t know, but we have to trust God that He will bring us through it.” That’s one common thing that I’ve seen in relation to the story of Job as it pertains to human suffering.

However, I also think that a lot of people ultimately miss the deep-down message. Now, maybe I’m underestimating. Maybe a lot more people have realized this. But I haven’t seen it much so I figure I’d share what God showed me.

God actually blessed Job in allowing him to suffer. Now, I don’t mean this at the end where God gives him back all his things. That’s a nice ending for Job, but that doesn’t mean that we can consistently expect the same result – especially not if we spend all our time complaining about our suffering!

But, how could Job’s immense, long suffering have possibly been a blessing? Sounds positively absurd, right? Well, to understand this, we have to think from what we know of God’s perspective and from our current perspective rather than from Job’s.

Still with me? Here’s what I mean.

We have the Book of Job. Job is famous as a righteous man and his story has been used countless times to help others. We take it for granted that we have this book in our Bibles, but Job didn’t know that people full millenniums later would be benefiting from his story. Job didn’t realize how God was blessing him with this alone. Job probably died with absolutely no indication of what all that was for. He may have died utterly perplexed as to the ultimate reason God had for that long period of loss and suffering in his life. Could there have been other reasons that God had that aren’t mentioned in the Bible? Sure! But we don’t need to know those other possible reasons to understand the definite reasons.

We can still see that Job has received a great honor. God not only allowed him an entire book of the Bible, but also that his story has been told for generations upon generations. His story has helped many people to take comfort in their suffering knowing that God is in control of all things. In short, God gave Job the great honor of using him to fulfill a much greater purpose.

That is why, no matter what situation we are put in and no matter how grim it may seem, it doesn’t mean that suddenly God is no longer in control and it certainly doesn’t mean that God no longer loves us. It means we have to put our trust fully in Him that He will not only take us through our situation but also that He has a reason and purpose for it, regardless of whether we ever realize it or not.

Any time that God can use us, we should be grateful and consider it a huge honor and privilege. To suffer and even die for Christ would be the greatest honor. This flies in the face of secular logic, but we have to remember that the Lord does many things we don’t understand at the time they are happening. I’m writing that as much to myself as I am to anyone reading this right now! I think we all forget that far too often.

To illustrate this, even to myself, every time I think about suffering in the name of Jesus I think about Rachel Scott. I didn’t know her by name, in fact I had to look her name up just to type that. But she is the girl who was killed at Columbine when they asked her if she was Christian. She didn’t denounce her Lord and Savior, and she paid for it with her life. But, here I am – not having known her at all, having only heard about her via the news, thinking to myself of how incredible it was that she did that. Despite being stared down by death, she did not reject Christ. As is now also the case with the recent victims of the Oregon Umpqua Community College shooting.

One of the most powerful responses I’ve heard to the question of where God is in the midst of our suffering, was said to a woman who said that she had prayed for God to share His mind with her. After praying the prayer, she said her health and the health of her family began to decline, with her suffering from multiple sclerosis at the time of the questioning. She wanted to know why she experienced such decline after praying that prayer.

One of the speakers gave a response to her direct question. He then sat down and his response was followed up by this response, by Muslim-turned-Christian, Dr. Nabeel Qureshi:

 We so take it for granted that we wake up in the morning. What say do we have, that we wake up in the morning? We go to sleep and we wake up and it happens regularly, so we take it for granted, but there’s nothing we do to make that happen cognizantly. And we think about, momentarily, the malady that you mentioned that you have – the multiple sclerosis. We just act, so immediately we act. We see things, we can point to it, and it’s so natural to us. We don’t even think about what’s happening here. That your brain and your nerves function as electrical systems, and you have capacitors that allow your signal to go from your brain to your finger. And for your muscles to work at the very fast rate at which they do. And those capacitors, if they stop working, these myelin sheaths, you get multiple sclerosis. Just one small part of a very complex system can cause such devastating effects. And as painful as it is, I think one thing that you have probably learned is just how beautiful it is, and how much people take it for granted when this amazingly complex system works the way it ought to. Something we take for granted every single day. And I know when I pray, early on when I began to pray as a Christian. . . You know I was a Muslim, formerly, and part of my prayer was the 5 daily prayers. It was very scripted. Everything was scripted. The only thing I got to choose in my 5 daily prayers was which portion of the Qur’an to recite. So when I began to learn to pray as a Christian these improvisational prayers, I used to say, ‘What am I supposed to pray?’ And I’d look at my hands as I’m praying, and I said ‘I’ve got 10 things to pray about right here.’ Every single [looking at fingers]. . . What if I didn’t have these? My whole life would be absolutely different. And so, you have learned that message unlike many of the rest of us will ever be able to learn it. But the other thing that I learned in the process of transitioning from Islam to Christianity . . . was that God – according to Islam we don’t learn this – God did not stand apart from your suffering. He didn’t watch you suffer and say, ‘I want to see what she ultimately does. I want to see what way she finds for herself.’ God takes a look at our suffering, and says, ‘I cannot remain aloof from that suffering. I will enter into it.’ You know, Jesus could have come as a prince in the human sense. He could’ve come with power. He could’ve come at any time in human history. He chose to come at a very specific time when people had invented how to execute people the most painful way ever devised, the most humiliating way ever devised. God said, ‘That type of suffering which goes beyond all other suffering, that’s what I will choose to take on for myself.’ He entered into it. And why did He do that? Out of love for you. He didn’t watch you suffer and stand aloof. He took that suffering upon Himself so that He could show us what true love was all about. And you are learning this, in a way none of us the rest of us will. So, I praise the Lord for who He is, and I praise the Lord for who you are. You were designed before the creation of the world – this is also a Christian truth. You were designed before the creation of the world with every single aspect of you in mind. You are not incidental. You are not random. You are not an accident. You are a loved creation of God, and that is absolutely amazing. So, if I can encourage you with anything, it’s who He is, and who He’s made you to be.

My prayer tonight as I’m typing this, for myself as well as for you, is that we live our lives both in submission and in gratitude to Him. When we are facing tough times, it is easy to get dismayed. But we need not be dismayed knowing that we have Christ. He knows our suffering, no matter how big or how small, and His hand is over all things, and all things He’s worked towards His ultimate purpose. We can rest our faith in Him and trust Him in all things.

A Brief Note on Christian Jargon

When I first thought to start this site, I initially thought about just sharing some of the invaluable lessons I’ve learned from great speakers and teachers. They aren’t speakers on TV, and I believe that between the lot of them, they have only a handful of books. However, much of their teaching is bar-none.

Shortly after initiating the website, I started studying other things and discovered a Mr. J. Warner Wallace of Cold Case Christianity, amongst a few others. He is an atheist-turned-Christian, which is always heart-warming to hear about.

I started listening to some of his podcasts and he mentioned something that intrigued me. He mentioned that while he was an atheist, he was turned off by people that talked with a lot of religious terms.

Despite being a Christian all my life, I could really understand his point and in fact, I’d thought that to myself before. I understand what people mean because I’m familiar with the lingo. But, what about unbelievers?

I would not go up to someone who barely understands how to turn a computer on and start trying to explain to them the intricacies of say, coding and syntaxes. They would look at me like a deer in the headlights and probably zone out completely. When I was done explaining, they’d be likely to tell me, “Well, I didn’t understand a word you just said!”

In the same way, I am not sure that a believer can come at an unbeliever with a mouth full of religious sayings. Now, it’s not to say that the words, phrases, and sayings wouldn’t be true. But rather, what good is it to explain it all in detail if someone won’t understand what you’re saying – or worse, will stop paying attention altogether?

I do realize that many people have heard “the Good News” (or what they perceive to be the alleged Good News) so much that they zone out. The danger is not so much that people will zone out (some will do so anyway because they simply don’t care to hear it regardless of how it’s explained). The danger rather is that they will tune you out with an assumption that they already know what you’re going to say and what you mean.

That is, if they’ve heard what they think is the same message, said the same ways, 200 times, they probably won’t feel compelled to hear it again.

In this site, I’m going to attempt to minimize (or at least, clearly explain) my use of popular Christian words and phrases as best possible. To some extent it simply isn’t possible in the same way that you can’t explain how to use a computer without referring to some aspects of it in those terms, which also further educates the user. In the same way, I intend to keep my use of specific words to a minimum not to downplay what I’m saying, but rather to keep it clear for a broader audience.

Hopefully I will be successful in this endeavor. Perhaps for now, I should just focus on rambling a bit less.

Does Being Christian Mean Giving Up Pastimes and Activities?

That, however, is not the way of life you learned when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. (Ephesians 4:20-24, NIV)

When I was younger, around high school age, I recall that one of the things that many of my peers said of why they did not want to become Christian, was fear of what they would have to “give up”. If they became Christian, they felt they would have to give up activities that they probably shouldn’t have been doing anyway at that age, as well as other things such as “not listening to rap or rock music”. This was interesting to me. I can’t say that I knew any better myself at that time, because I honestly can’t recall.

As I grew up though, and learned more, attended conferences and heard some wise speakers, I realized that my peers along with many adults, are potentially mistaken. Now, before I go on, I’m certainly not advocating any immoral, illegal, unethical, or even just unwise behaviors! These are broad statements and clearly there are some activities that no one ought to participate in, for their own good, regardless of their beliefs.

But going back to the original topic at hand, the idea that they had seemed, to me, to be that they would become Christian, then they’d have to stop doing all these things and that would be that. I’d like to say that only teens have this mindset, but I get the impression that many adults do, too. I think that there are many people out there who don’t come to God because they do all these “bad” things.

Now, there are a couple roads we could take from here, and there is a huge difference between the two. We’re at the fork in the road, and it’s between “can’t” and “won’t”.

The “can’t” road is, I think, where some people are fouled up with sincerity. They have problems, they have things wrong with them or with their thinking, and they recognize that they are wrong, but they don’t know how to fix them. They could have a drinking problem, or a drug addiction, a gambling problem, sex addiction, pornography addiction, you name it. Maybe it’s not an addiction or any ongoing problem, but they’ve done something really awful that they are deeply ashamed of. Perhaps, even so deeply ashamed that they’ve built up walls around themselves, walls so high and so thick that they feel protected from anyone ever finding out their deepest, darkest secret(s). I’m sure there are even people out there who perhaps sense God’s presence and His calling, but they’ve rejected it, they’ve squelched it day after day, month after month, year after year. Perhaps they’ve even resisted Him with a great deal of pride. I believe there are still people out there in this day who sincerely believe they can’t come to God because of what they do or have done.

Then there’s the “won’t” road. It’s quite possible, if not most likely, that my peers were expressing an attitude that is prevalent in many adults these days. That is, an attitude of “I’m going to do what I want to do, when and how I want to do it.” That is, after all, our right as we enter into adulthood, isn’t it? Once that 18th birthday rolls around, once we have our own income, once we are out of our parents’ homes – whatever the case may be, that’s when we finally become free, right? Free – to do what we want! This is the “won’t” road. It’s not that we feel we can’t, it’s that we won’t. We want to enjoy our freedom and we don’t want anyone telling us what we can and cannot do. Once no longer are under the watchful eye of parents, we’re not going to willfully put ourselves under the watchful eye of “some God”.

If you’re going on the “won’t” road, you might be open to a belief that God is out there, maybe you even recognize that God exists and have a general “belief in God”. But you don’t want to submit to His authority. If you’re on the won’t road, then I can’t help you here. I can pray for you, but I can’t help you. However, if you are truly on the “won’t” road, you may not even want help at this point and time. Then again, if you’re on the “won’t” road but you’re here reading this, maybe you do. 🙂

We’ll have more discussion about the “won’t” road in a moment because the sign for this road is not well lit and it’s easy to turn down the wrong path and even Bible-believing Christians can end up here almost unwittingly. (I speak from experience!) The “won’t” road definitely isn’t an ultimate end, though.

However, if you’re on the “can’t” road, then there is some very Good News for you! This is, in very short order, why I decided to make this site. So many people think they have to do all these things, they have to strive so hard. We’ll talk more about it, but I won’t keep you waiting until then!

You don’t have to give up anything to become Christian.

There, I said it! It might fly in the face of much of what you know or have heard, but trust me on it.

Becoming a Christian is not about what we give up, it’s not about what we stop doing, it’s not about how we have to start spending our Sundays. Becoming a Christian is not about a what, or a how, or a when, or a where, or a why – it’s about a Who. It’s about knowing Jesus and believing in Him.

If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. (Romans 10:9, NIV)

It doesn’t get much simpler than that. However, many people try to dilute or destroy the message by adding to it, taking from it, or changing it in some other way. In reality, the theme throughout the entire Bible, Old and New Testament, are “Believe in the Lord and you will be saved.” The message hasn’t really changed, but I think a lot of people unfortunately miss that. We’ll have to go more into that another time, too.

It’s clear from even this one above verse, which is in no uncertain terms, that it is sincere belief in and declaration (confession) of Jesus Christ as Lord that gets you saved. Nothing more or less. Nothing else. That is the Good News for everyone, but it is especially great for all the “can’t” folks. Remember that the apostles, when Christ first called them, were not men that everyone looked up to, but that everyone looked down on. If there is anything that is holding us back from coming to Christ, we can let it go. It doesn’t have to hold us back any longer. Christ loves us exactly as we are, right now, at this very moment. Even if we have treated Him terribly, He still loves us.

Now, one more word about the “won’t” road. Even this road has a couple forks. There are some people who are stuck in a particular bad behavior, addiction, or what-have-you and maybe they don’t want to give it up! Maybe this isn’t necessarily an attitude of not wanting to submit to another’s authority, but they just really like doing what they do.

That’s OK! Christ still will accept and love every one of us!

How can that be? That is the common teaching right – “Turn from your sin!” ? That’s especially common teaching in the hellfire, condemnation preaching (I generally do not like that sort of preaching at all). So am I just spouting nonsense with too much emphasis on the love and acceptance?

No.

We can come to Christ in any state that we are in. He wants us all to be with Him and to love Him, as He loves us. It isn’t about what, it is about Who. We can all come to Christ in our most sinful state. If we are sincere about our belief, that’s what matters most. If there is a problem that needs to be resolved, let Him work on that! He wants to! It may take lots of time, or it may be instantaneous. But when we come to Him, He will work on us. He will convict us so we recognize when we are doing wrong, but He will also take us through it. In other words, He doesn’t want you to “try really hard to stop”; He wants to be your strength to stop.

As I mentioned, there is another fork down the “won’t” road. That is when we want to do what we want to do, and it isn’t a behavior or an activity we don’t want to give up, it’s control. We don’t want to give up control of our lives. We don’t want to submit to His authority. Not just now, not just for this set of circumstances, but period. This is the part that no one can help with, except God Himself. If we are set in our ways, set in our wills, and we are opposed to Jesus telling us what to do in any situation, well… Only God can fix that. The scary thing is that we can become believers and still hold this attitude, sometimes without even realizing it! (Again, I speak from experience!)

But if you are willing to let Christ intervene in your life, if you are willing to let Him take control, He will gladly do it. He loves us more than we can ever know or understand. His love is unfathomably great for us. I do hope that whatever fork of the road you might be on right now, that you will pray and ask God to guide your path. He will be faithful.

Do You Follow Christianity, or Do You Follow Christ?

Hello, and welcome.

Do you consider yourself a Christian?

Whether your answer is “yes” or “no”, how do you define it? What does it mean to be a “Christian”?

What would you say makes you a Christian, or not a Christian? Who is saved, and who is not?

Can you tell from looking at a person’s clothing, or their hair, or their music, or even their words – what that person might believe?

What sorts of things do Christians do, or say?

Can we judge a book by its cover?

I will be using this website to share with you what I know, what I have learned, and what I understand about Christ, and about Christianity.

I’m not a scholar, I don’t know any language but English, and I’m certainly not perfect. But, neither is the modern church, and I think that it’s in dire need of quite an overhaul.

Let’s go beyond borders, and let me share with you the teachings of those wiser than me, whose faith is so much stronger than mine.

Let’s see some of the awe-inspiring things that God has done for His people, in all His vast love and mercy.

Let’s take a look at what it really means to “live the Christian life”.

Let’s get away from Christianity the religion, and let’s look for Christ.

Will you join me?