Posted on July 9, 2008
I commonly refer to my faith in blogs and writing but never directly spoken regarding it. This is largely because there have been very few good resources out there for Christians, at least that I was aware of, to actually refer people to, and I don’t like leaving people hanging. I’m always happy to have a “Tell me about Jesus” discussion with people interested, but I realize a lot of people are jaded when it comes to Christianity due to “bad experiences” directly or indirectly. Christianity isn’t about people being perfect, its about acknowledging what we already know in our hearts, that we’re sinners, even if we don’t know what that really means, and understanding it and our need for a savior, Jesus Christ, God become flesh to die for our sins thus fulfilling the Old Testament bringing us into grace. God gave us free will… don’t ever let someone push you around, judge for yourself, clearly, with an open heart and mind based on the Bible, not on people, all have fallen short.
Every so often Penny Arcade does a Jesus comic… I commonly find myself being amused and offended at the same time, and thats always a winning combo. Here’s my favorite example:
Whats funny is how much theology is in there. Namely, “We just…” expresses trinitarian belief. (God is 1 God in 3 Persons: God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit… in Genesis Chapter 1 you can see reference to all 3, and any debate should be handled by looking at Gen 1:26 “Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.”… fascinating topic of study.)
The other thing I like about the strip is that it has the right attitude. We are told that “Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom”… which stands to reason, if you want to know wisdom understand the creator of all things and realize His power and authority. Yet we’re also called into a personal relationship with Jesus, our savior, and the indwelling Holy Spirit. People get too legalistic about Christianity… you don’t leave God in the church on sunday, you’re constantly in relationship to Him, even if your ignoring Him.
One evidence of our relationship with Jesus, whether we believe or not, is our .conscience There are universal right and wrongs regardless of culture. Sure, you can numb yourself to it or be taught otherwise, but there are instinctual “thats wrong” feelings in our hearts. The Bible tells us that the law of God is inscribed in our hearts. Before you listen to a preacher, look at your own heart and what it tells you and see if the Bible lines up with that.
I don’t believe in Jesus Christ as my savior because I want to go to heaven or because it makes me a good person or something… I believe because when I pair up whats in my heart with all the explanations and writings available the Bible is the only book that jives with reality. There is unity and organization both physically and philosophically all throughout nature, common themes, which is why we can explain complex philosophical concepts by illustration in nature. A single intellectual creator explains that. Many religions tell me what I can become, but Jesus describes what I am, why I am that way, and how I can change it if I choose. And Jesus gives me a choice and clearly outlines the consequences of either decision. The Bible outlines how God has interacted with man in different ways over time and why they didn’t work… “Just give me a sign and I’ll believe!”, and He did that and it didn’t make a difference, “Just give me some easy rules to follow and I’ll believe!”, and He did that and it didn’t make a difference. It all leads up to Jesus and grace. We don’t deserve crap, but He created us and loves us all, no matter what… we are present in life with a choice, Him or not Him. Simple, beautiful, wonderful. Thats something I can get behind.
I’ve always been discourage in the modern American church, which is dominated by old, legalistic, men. But Jesus was 30 when we started his mission… the apostles were all young as well. So why are young men relegated to youth pastors in the modern church? I think its a big reason that Christianity has such a bad rap in America and churches are dying left and right. I’m young, I’m aggressive, I love Jesus… so was Peter! When they came to take Jesus Peter busts out his sword and starts chopping! It was the wrong thing to do, but I can get behind that kind of thinking. Thomas was an apostle, but he didn’t believe that Jesus truly was God until he actually saw Jesus resurrected with nail marks… did Jesus love him? Ya, totally. Doubt isn’t a sin… explore faith and test it.
When I was a kid I’d get into trouble because I listened to heavy metal. I was supposed to listen to pop or light rock. What I thought was interesting was that my parents wanted me to listen to “normal music” which was all about sex, love, self interest, especially in the 80’s. Even though death metal focused on Satan, that was more Christian to me than Paula Abdul… Satan is real, their talking about Satan and how we wants to destroy us all and inflict suffering… Slayer seemed more biblical than Whitesnake. 🙂
When Open Source came along it jived for me because it parallels Christianity. Community and working together and evangelizing… these are integral Christian concepts that I immediately got. God has called me to be a SysAdmin and He instructs us to love our brother as ourselves, helping one-another in love and charity… why do you think I write so much? 🙂
God has faithfully guided me through my entire life, and I trust Him implicitly. He’s proven it time and time again. I get a raise, a month later a new bill comes in. I get a bonus, 2 weeks later the car breaks down. I get downsized and before the day is out I have an offer to start immediately. I commonly say that “God opens doors for people… but I’m not very bright, so He just kicks me through ’em.” When adversity or change happens I don’t get scared that I’m screwed… I look for what God is doing. With my new house… a friend tells me about the cheap foreclosures in Tracy and we start researching it, one week later we get our 60-day notice to leave our rental in Fremont, 2 weeks later we find the right house, 3 weeks later we close escrow, 1 week later we’re moved in, and we have just enough time to clean out the old place before we have to give it back. Now, if you take these sorts of things and call them random chance or coincidence than your faith in chaos is stronger than my faith in Jesus. 🙂
I’m not perfect…. definitely not. I’ve probly got more problem than any of you reading this. I’m a sinner and I know it… but I want to change, and Jesus explains how, through faith and repentance. Heaven is great and all, but frankly I’m concerned about how to live now… Christianity is about both now and forever at the same time.
I won’t post any more about Christianity directly in this blog because I’m aggregated fairly widely and don’t want to get yanked for being off topic, but its important to me and now seemed like the time to share a bit.
If you are interested in Christianity, either as a fellow believe or as someone who’s just checking things out, I highly recommend you check out Mars Hill Church (Mark Driscoll’s church in Seattle, not Rob Bell’s church in Michigan). They just finished a 13 part “Doctrine: What Christians Should Believe” series which is totally awesome!! No fluff, just great information for a great young preacher.
To see a short introduction before jumping in, Watch the Preview to the Doctrine Series.
I highly encourage you to look through the various sermon series, all in video. Plus, you can subscribe to the Video Podcast on iTunes. Mars Hill is the first church I’ve seen that actually feels like an apostolic church, young new believers with real questions. Want to find a church that actually talks about sex? Answers questions like “Is oral sex ok?”… seriously, amazing church for real people with real questions and real interest. Check it out!
If you’re already a Christian, but you’ve fallen away from your walk, there are lots of great ways to get re-engaged and centered. One thing that helps me is attacking the Bible in new ways. Try a new translation! I still love the King James Tranlation (KJV AV), but also have found that NKJV, ESV and NASB (NASB being the most literal translation available) are really wonderful and accurate. Remember, the KJV is not the word of God, its an english translation of it… don’t let people shoe-horn you into a single translation. I do, however, advise staying away from paraphrases such as “The Message” except for cross-reference. Seriously, ESV is easy to read and accurate.
Another great resource is audio bibles. Its hard to sit down and read an entire book without getting hung up on phrases or specific stories. Get a broad view of the scriptures!! I’ve found that when you just listen to the New Testament from beginning to end you walk away with a very different vibe than when you just work on given passages. I use this one:
I prefer to refer to this as “The Bible as read by Darth Vader”. 🙂
Lastly… for new Christians and old alike, I offer one important piece of advice that I myself have struggled with in the past. Focus on Jesus! Christianity is about… duh… Christ. When you focus on “god”, which god? Its impersonal and abstract, and the Bible is anything but impersonal or abstract. Jesus is God, Jesus is alive, Jesus loves you and died for your sin. Whether you believe that or not, focus on Jesus, not “god”. Pray, calling out to Jesus by name, and talk to Him… see what happens.