I am pained that Christianity has been given a conception of a confined religion which closes off the mind and restricts you to a certain way of ignorance and bondage.
But how very wrong they have been. Christianity is the one thing in this world that I have found to bring the most freedom and joy
— more than the human mind could ever comprehend.
It is common, that people believe our faith comes from believing in a God that forces us to obey certain commands, and if we do not, he will not love us, and will punish us. Yes, God has laws, but God’s laws are perfect laws, designed for us to function in the way he created us to; laws that align us with our identity and purpose. Jesus came and saved us from the wrath of God; he saved us from our sins
— which, by the way, aren’t just acts we commit that we’re not supposed to, but they are acts or even thoughts that we think that hurt us, and that is why God does not like sin. Because he loves us, and it breaks his heart to see us choose that way of life. When Jesus was among us on earth, he gave us two “laws”: to love God, and to love people. How could anyone say these laws are anything but good?
Notice God doesn’t command that we obey him, though that is his desire. But he commands that we love. This doesn’t mean being polite, this doesn’t mean having a deep, happy emotion towards all people all the time. This means that we love others as Christ loved us
— by laying down his life for us. This means that we should prefer the needs of others over our own, which, yes, is very contradictory to our society which claims that we can do whatever makes us happy. And though Christianity doesn’t allow us to do “whatever we want”, it gives us a heart to do what is best for others. Don’t you want to live in a world where everyone is so concerned with pleasing and helping you, that you don’t have to worry about thinking about yourself, because your needs are getting met, and your heart is also geared towards giving and not getting?
And why would anyone want to give everything to others? Because that is how God designed us. Haven’t you seen celebrities? They get all they ever dreamed and they are left empty. And years after teens grow into adults and all they have known is a life that is pleasing to themselves, they become hard to be around, they become stuck in their habits, which can lead to addictions. Why do you think the divorce rate is so ridiculously high? Especially in the last generation? Because our society is a “get what you can” society. We are selfish. But God made us to be fulfilled and experience joy when we lay down our lives.
John Maxwell (Discovering our purpose) says we need to do two things:
1.Find ourselves – when we discover our purpose
2.Lose yourself – when our purpose becomes bigger than us
When we do this, we are fulfilled. “For whoever would save his life, but whoever loses is life for my sake will find it” MATTHEW 16:25
We are called to die to ourselves
— which just means that we give up our own desires — and live for Christ. And slowly, we begin to transform into beautiful creatures, full of love and kindness that shines wherever we go.
C.S. Lewis gives a great description of this process in his amazing (and maybe my favourite) book, Mere Christianity
“Every time you make a choice you are turning the central part of you, the part of you that chooses, into something a little different from what it was before. And taking your life as a whole, with all your innumerable choices, all your life long you are slowly turning this central thing into a heavenly creature or into a hellish creature: either into a creature that is in harmony with God, and with other creatures, and with itself, or else into one that is in a state of war and hatred with God, and with its fellow-creatures, and with itself. To be the one kind of creature is heaven: that is, it is joy and peace and knowledge and power. To be the other means madness, horror, idiocy, rage, impotence, and eternal loneliness. Each of us at each moment is progressing to the one state of the other.”
How incredible that when we choose, little by little, day by day, to lay down our lives, which at the time may seem like we are losing, but at the end of it we have won, and we find fullness of joy. And when we are only concerned with ourselves, it may seem good in the moment, but at the end of it all, we have lost, and are left alone and broken.
Jesus lived a perfect life, and died on the cross for our sins, how bizarre. The Jews thought he would come in like a blazing fire and overthrow the government and become king. But Jesus came as a humble servant, who loved the prostitutes, and the sinners, and the physically, and spiritually unclean. The only people he didn’t like were the religious people. You don’t like religious people? Neither did Jesus, and that’s my God. Jesus did rule over and use his crazy God-powers, but he died humbly on the cross, defeating death and all of hell. And through our faith in this we are: forgiven, saved, and called to love.
Jesus contradicted, Jesus did things backwards. And that is why we lose our lives to find it. That is why we die to live. That is why we give and are filled. Do you not see? It all comes from humility and love. This is the gospel. This is love. This is Christianity.