I was brought up Catholic but as a child I attended a Baptist church with some neighbors. I learned about Jesus at the Baptist church, I learned about saying Hail Mary’s at the Catholic church. Later I learned that Catholics had a lot of vices and Baptists were prudes. But Catholics were much more honest about their vices and when Baptists, or other evangelicals, were found out the hypocrisy was glaring.
I always believed in God, though for a short dark period I decided Hell was on earth and death promised an end of it. The beauty and intricacies of nature though, I’ve always believed, point to a creator.
God became personal to me as I sobered up and started searching (or He started drawing me to Himself, I do believe he calls us) Eventually I decided I believed in the God of the Bible, protestant version, because I knew I was a sinner who had no hope of saving herself or making it to heaven on her own given God’s standards of behavior. Jesus though made a way. He is the God required perfect sacrifice who offered himself to save a world hell bent for destruction. And now the Holy Spirit guides me and lives in me. I don’t always listen though.
There are thousands of religious groups in the world many with their own thought-to-be-deity inspired texts. There are between five and eleven considered major religions. According to this site Christians and Muslims make up over 50% of the global population. Christianity leading with over a third and Islam with a quarter of the worldwide population.
So am I just following the crowd thinking that the most must be the best? Certainly not. Being American I certainly had access to Christianity first and foremost and have never explored deeply other religions of the world, though I dabbled in the occult and considered atheism. When I first gave my life to Jesus I may have just been hedging my bets but as I travel this path it’s come to mean so much more.
I don’t plan on launching a full out apologetic on the Christian faith but here are a few books that have helped me along the way.
How to live out this Christian life is my theme for the week. For me it’s changed over the years. I’ve become more tolerant and inclusive (eek such politically correct terms) but it’s true. I no longer judge different denominations of the Christian faith and I will never again hold reformed theology above the others though my beliefs may lean in that direction. Two thousand years is a long history and for one denomination or school of thought that came 1500 years after the original to think they have a corner on the market of true Christianity is rather arrogant.
There are two realms for living out the Christian faith. One is inward the other outward. My inward walk of faith is cultivated through prayer, meditation, reading and writing. My outward walk is hopefully a reflection of the inward where I practice what I’ve learned by serving others in love with all the attributes of the Fruit of the Spirit. This passage is a good summary of the Christian faith:
You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.
So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other. Galatians 5:13-26
Tomorrow I’ll talk about how Christians are called to meet together to encourage and edify one another, this would be part of our outward walk of faith. It looks different for me now than it used to but Sunday mornings are still the place we regularly to worship corporately.