"Ask any ten people what makes a person a Christian and you'll get ten different answers."
Some ideas may have a grain of truth; others give a far-from-accurate picture. People have several different ideas of Christianity. A lot of it is very far from the truth. Some reasons:
(Would an atheist like Madeleine Murray O'Hare want to be called a Christian? --O.O No.)
2. Someone who was born and raised in a Christian in a Christian home or country, or who inherited their faith.
(Can faith be passed on through childbirth? --No.)
3. A person who goes to church.
(Does going into a garage make you a car? --No.)
4. Someone who practices rituals such as baptism, Communion, and/or Bible-reading.
(These activites may have value, but is the all-wise, personal God in the picture? --No.)
5. One who follows the Golden Rule, and leads a moral life.
(Many good, moral people try to live by the Golden Rule yet make no claims to be Christians. Does merely following the teachings of Jesus give us a one-on-one connection with Him? --No.)
6. A person who abstains from specific external, so-called "worldly" practices.
(A long list of "don'ts" or prohibitions might be seen as characteristic of some Christians. How does an emphasis on negatives fit in with Jesus Christ's message, "...I have come, that they may have life, and have it to the full." [John 10:10]? --Nowhere.)
7. Someone who gives casual intellectual assent to a certain list of beliefs.
(This could be a casual assent to the idea of God and Jesus Christ, like saying, "Oh yes, I believe all that I heard in church." Is belief a tentative list of ideas without a personal interchange or connection between the individual and God? --No)
#1 is pathetic. #2 and #3 are linked together in the sense of: there are a LOT of people who think that. #3, #4, and #5 are linked in the sense of: they both re religious "rituals" people believe that will save them.
~So then we all ask the question:
Our firsty bottom-line truth is "Inner Direction Needed". "Are you so dull?" he asked. "Don't you see that nothing that enters a man from the outside can make him 'unclean'?" [Mark 7:18] That was Jesus speaking the people. Who we are on the inside was (and is!) of utmost importance to Him. It is to us also. A lot--Christian & secular songs-- have a very vast amount of lyrics that have to do with a person's heart.
All of us have questions about Jesus. Several wondering what He has to do with our everyday lives. Does anything matter? Is it even true we can have a personal relationship with Him? Is there anyone we can trust?
"Is Anybody There?" by John Hiatt, 'Well, I'm out here on my own, Followin' a star, Asking on my knees, for some direction, please. And, God, You know that's hard.' If God doesn't care, who does?
St. Augustine described our life as our "God-shaped vacuum that only God can fill."
Asking questions defines us as humans. We feel we need help from someone outside of ourselves, but (unfortunately) too often, seeking God and praying become our last and feeblest resort.
Throughout the Bible we see our Creator God directing, guiding, encouraging the people He created. He intended us to be in close relationship with Him. From he beginning, He desired a "family" relationship. (Hence, the beginning of the Bible-- Genesis-- God first created a family. The beginning of our lives.) "...Where are you?" [Gen. 3:9] God didn't want to be seperated. He calls to every one of us, whom He created. "Come to me, and I will give you rest..." [Matt. 11:28]
We human beings were made to be directed and led in life's path in close connection with our Maker. We function best when we get our cues from God. Unfortunately, each of us has indiviudally shoved God out of the driver's seat of our livess. We continue to ratify decision and handle our lives without reference to God. Trying to live life without God, our incredibly wise Creator, is really as silly as being upset because we are dependent on air to breathe-- and then holding out breath in rebeliion! Cutting ourselves from the one available Source of divine, nurturing power is like a tree cutting off its roots. We need God. God changes our dead lives into living ones. Period!
I hope you guys enjoyed that first half of chapter one.
EDIT: I realized the whole chapter was way too big for one teeny blog post. :P No one would read it at a time. So I decided that instead of three months, this devotions thing will take six months, because the chapters will be split in TWO.
Anyway, I've been loving this book so far. :D