Eleven different ways of experiencing Christianity—Part 12
There are many ways of seeing yourself as a Christian. You can add another way as your faith grows; you can have more than one at a time and move through them over time.
I am going to look at this through Advent this year. None of them is wrong when taken in context with the others; all of them are wrong on their own. The list is not exhaustive.
Faith the size of a mustard seed
O come, let us adore him, Christ the Lord.
20-21 He replied, “Because your faith is much too small. What I’m about to tell you is true. If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, it is enough. You can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there.’ And it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”Matthew 17:20-21 NIRV
Everyone the Father gives me will come to me. I will never send away anyone who comes to me.John 6:37
Jesus says that great faith is not required, just a little bit.
Everyone who comes to Jesus will be accepted by him.
Put these two verses together and you will see the reason I have written this.
The reason I have put together the eleven different ways Christianity is experienced is that none of them is wrong as ways of coming to Jesus. If that is all your faith consists of then I suggest you go deeper, and try one or two of the other ways. Even if you go through some of these ways of looking at faith, even if you then leave them behind and move on I hope you will be enriched.
When Jesus said he would accept people who would come to him it would take a big leap of the imagination to think that that he would reject anyone who did not come to him by praying ‘the sinner’s prayer’ which goes something like this:
Dear Lord Jesus, I know that I am a sinner, and I ask for Your forgiveness. I believe You died for my sins and rose from the dead. I turn from my sins and invite You to come into my heart and life. I want to trust and follow You as my Lord and Saviour.
Was Jesus thinking that the sinners’ prayer is the only way of coming that he’d accept? That is a bit much when Protestantism did not exist until 1400 years later and Evangelicalism for 1700 years. I am not knocking it, that particular way, that is how I came to Jesus and also the way I recommend unless there is a clear reason from talking to the person to suggest something else. It is a valid way to Jesus. But it is not the only way, conversations with Christians I have has show that they can come in different ways and still have a clear relationship with Jesus Christ. Jesus calls all people to come to him. are you going to respond? You may use the prayer above, or something else.
O come, let us adore him, Christ the Lord.
For those already committed to Jesus I am asking you to think about the Great Commission in Matthew’s gospel, and especially the four times the word ‘all’ occurs:
Then Jesus came to them. He said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 So you must go and make disciples of all nations. Baptize them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. 20 Teach them to obey everything I have commanded you. And you can be sure that I am always with you, to the very end.”Matthew 26:18-20
The four ‘alls’ of the Great Commission
All authority on heaven and earth belongs to Jesus. It does not belong to the governments, or to rich businessmen or judges. When Christians have gone to take authority for themselves it has not gone well. Crusades have been sent, and fortunes have been made to the detriment of people. The dystopia in The Handmaids Tale is a distinct possibility because Christians are looking for power in the wrong place and in the wrong way. Real authority is not political authority. Jesus demonstrated God’s authority by giving up his life and putting himself below others and giving his life. In humility and giving up is where real authority lies.
The Gospel message is for all people. There are no people groups, not race, class, sex or sexuality to which God is not offering his salvation if they will accept it. God being for the widows, orphans and foreigners, groups which are often marginalised, is to give them the same dignity that the rich and the powerful already have. God’s mercy and grace are for all.
All his teachings
We cannot choose between the laws which are sacred and secular. All God’s laws are holy, those about duty to God and those about how we treat other people. But it isn’t that simple. Jesus was not happy withthe way that some of the leaders of his time used the law to gring people down rather than lift them up. The prophets said similar things before him. It is God’s plan to lift people up, and we have a role to play in making that happen.
All the time
Jesus’ promises are forever. From when he sent the Holy Spirit into the Church until the end of the age. Jesus will be with us until the very end. We can call on him when in trouble because he understands being human and interceding for us at the father’s right hand.
It’s all about Jesus
Christianity is all about Jesus Christ, that’s where the name comes from. Christmas reminds us about how God chose to enter the world. Not into a royal family, or a rich family, that was what he left behind, but into the family of a physical worker, in his infancy he was a refugee seeking asylum in a foreign land and throughout his ministry he had to escape the authorities who were after him. Jesus understands our dark times and the hard times of being human, Jesus promise is to be with us in the shit we go through.
The problem is that we do not speak into other people’s dark times because we do not admit to ours, we make Jesus out to be a nice Messiah who does nice things for nice people. I’m not surprised that people turn their backs on that. Instead, let us take the theme of Jesus being a light that shines in our dark places that the dark has not been able to put out. Jesus is for the good times in life, and I shall enjoy celebrating that with family this Christmas, but Jesus is for the dark places also, which is why I also write about being a Christian and autistic, disabled, with a chronic illness and a tendency towards depression. It is in those places that I find the most acceptance by Jesus.
Every one who comes to Jesus will be accepted by him. Especially those going through hard times. O come, let us adore him, Christ the Lord.