Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Christianity in 5 Minutes or Less

Yesterday we concluded our Bible Study of Deuteronomy with some good discussion. I kept scribbling down  interesting points thinking, "That will make a good blog post!"  The discussion that I kept thinking about all evening, though, was the one about explaining Christianity to someone who knows little or nothing about it.

I have to say, I've not often been in a position of having a faith discussion with someone who is new to the stories and beliefs of Christianity. When I was a child, most people I knew went to church most Sundays. The children I played with knew about Jesus' birth. They knew Easter was really about Jesus, not an Easter Bunny. In fact, it was such common knowledge it was taken for granted. I think that was likely the story across most of America. Even those who were not Christians knew quite a lot about Christianity. I'm not so sure that is really true anymore.

We have quite a lot of families moving here, even to the remote State of Wyoming, who come from different countries and cultures. One of the women in our group has been approached by some of these new Wyomingites, asking her what Christianity is really about. I imagine it must seem rather overwhelming to try to answer succinctly. Christianity has so many stories and lessons, how do you wrap it up and neatly present it in a 5 minute conversation?

I was raised Christian and have attended at least weekly services my entire life, yet I am still learning more about our faith all the time. The depth of lessons and history taught in the Bible is amazing. Where do you even start? Well, as usual, we look to Jesus for such guidance. When Jesus was asked which commandment was most important, he gave an answer that I believe defines what Christianity is supposed to be. His answer reflects back to commands given to the Hebrew people generations earlier, written in the Old Testament, long before Jesus was here. His words are recorded in the New Testament book of Mark, chapter twelve, verses 29-31:

Mark 12:29-31

New Living Translation (NLT)
29 Jesus replied, “The most important commandment is this: ‘Listen, O Israel! The Lord our God is the one and only Lord. 30 And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’[a] 31 The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b]No other commandment is greater than these.”

That's it! That is how we are to live! All the other lessons in the Bible center around those words.

I know that throughout history Christians have failed to quite live up to these commands. Why is it so hard for us? Why do we repeatedly try to put other things higher on our priority list than our love for God? Why do we have such a struggle to love others? I think I am going to print out those verses and put them somewhere that I look each day. I want to be constantly reminded that we are to live a life of love for God and love for others...simple as that. I'll end with this quote from The Law of Love:

"A love for God and neighbor transform our behavior and impact every last one of our actions and decisions." 
Melissa Moore Fitzpatrick


Anne Marie said...

Sadly, we don't live these commands because we are flawed sinners. It does weigh on the heart to be reminded of these commands, and know how hard it is to keep them.

Something I've wondered about, and have been thinking about in particular today, is how God handles sticky situations in Heaven. There are other Christians that I am sure will be in Heaven, as will I, but I sure don't like them here on earth. I'm not wishing them to not be there, that would be awful, but I choose to not be around them in my life. Eternity is a long time to be with someone you don't like or were bullied by! I know God will take care of all of this, but I do wonder how he'll do it.

Michelle said...

The things done in the name of Christianity or by Christians through the history of the church that have given a bad name to the church and Christians are things that in no way conform to this primary principle of Jesus. And, as you point out, this is a cornerstone of Judaism as well. God has always taught us this--we humans just have a hard time listening!

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