†So What's This God Thing All About?
Hmmm... this is going to be more difficult than I thought. I want this to be a sort of question and answer on Christianity, or maybe follow some sort of sequence, but the temptation to write whatever is in my head is so great. Maybe I'll label the ones that will expand to have a "theological" musing with some sort of symbol... like a cross! Then you'll know what's my drabble and what has a point. Hey! I like that idea. And I guess I'll start with an expanded entry today.
So what is this God thing all about? What's up with religion? Who is God? What is Christianity exactly? I don't have all the answers, believe me, but what I know I'd love to share. The first thing I want to establish is the definition of the word "Christian" as it will be used on this site. 80% of Americans claim to be Christian, however, I'm going to tell you flat out that most of those who claim to be Christians aren't really. First of all, there is no such thing as a Christian who is not "practicing". Being a Christian implies having faith and acting on it. Therefore all true Christians are "practicing Christians". Do you have to be in church every time the doors are open to be practicing? No. Should you go more than just on Christmas and Easter? Yes. However, church attendance is not mandatory. According to the bible to be considered a Christian by God one must accept Jesus Christ as their savior and Lord. That means you must believe that you are a sinner, you can't get to heaven or be right with God on your own, and that God sent his son Jesus to Earth to live a sinless life and die for everyone else's sin. Then you have to decide to follow after him, that means read your bible, try to live up to his standards, do things that please God, stop doing things that don't please God, and pray. Church attendance is very helpful and the bible stresses that we should go, but we don't have to. What is necessary is to ask for forgiveness of sins and pray for strength not to sin anymore. The defining difference between Christianity and Judaism is that Christians have accepted Jesus as the savior while the Jews are still waiting for the messiah (savior). Jesus is key to the whole thing. If you don't believe that Jesus is the son of God, or that he lived sinless, died for our sins, and rose from the dead and is living with God in Heaven you aren't a Christian.
And, no, you didn't misunderstand, I am stating that there is only one way to get right with God and go to Heaven. Some people might think that sounds harsh, especially considering Christianity proclaims that God is love, but let me put it to you another way. God created us and gave us dominion over all the Earth. Man didn't have to work, there was no pain, he could do whatever he wanted. There was only one rule - don't eat this one fruit. And man was stupid enough to break that one rule - don't blame it on Adam though, you break the rules too. Anyway, the punishment was death, but God, being wonderful and loving , provided a way to escape that punishment through Jesus. That would be like the judge telling you you are getting the death penalty but you had one other option. You wouldn't say the judge was horribly unfair and cruel for only giving you one way out, we would say the judge was merciful for giving you a chance to live! Well, that's just what God did. Why? Because God is love. He created everything and he loves you just because you are his. He doesn't want you to go to Hell, that's why he sent Jesus. But he's a gentleman, he gives you a choice - God isn't going to force anyone to chose him.
As for "religion", that ominous word that we fear, God isn't about religion, he's about relationships. God wants to talk to you, take care of you, be with you. In return he wants you to talk to him, read his word, spend time with him, and try to bring other people to him. That's why he created people after all - he wanted companions.
Well, that's the short version. If you have questions drop me an email. I'll be back later with some other things. My thoughts tend to be pretty random and will probably be based on what I'm reading in my daily bible reading, or what I'm teaching my Sunday School class - or even what my pastor preaches about. Some of it will be... advanced I suppose one could say and it might not make sense, but I'll give it my best shot. I don't want to confuse anyone. If something sounds way out in left field, or I use a term you don't know, drop me a line. I'm a teacher - so I love to answer questions ^_^
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