Before I start, let me just say that I am NOT a Bible Scholar. I don't have a degree in Theology. I have my beliefs and opinions and I have my own convictions and paths to travel based on what God has placed on MY heart. This post is not being put out there to disrepect anyone, but to get people thinking! It is not enough to call yourself a Christian, you actually have to BE Christian. Its hard to look yourself in the mirror and realize you are, in fact, NOT a Christian....Trust me! I know! However, better to realize it now and get right with God than to live your entire life based on a lie and find out just how wrong you are. Also, while I try my best to do the appropriate research necessary and I do check my facts, there are SEVERAL resources available on Christianity today and there can be differences from source to source. My beliefs and convictions come from my experiences, my time in the Word, and my relationship with God. So, with all that being said, here goes!!
There are MANY great resources available today for those who are curious as to what it means to be a Christian. Many so-called Christians are surprised to find out that they're getting it wrong according to Scripture. However, many churches, in an attempt to be 'trendy', come across as trying to accomodate(and even encourage) living in a manner that goes against scripture. Of course, I do take issue with most churches these days. The church as Christ designed and intended is a beautiful and wonderful thing. It is a place for children of God to gather and receive His message. To give Him praise and worship for the Grace we so undeservingly receive from Him. Its not about religion or man-made politics or rules or any of that. It is broken, sinful, fallen children of God, coming together united as brothers and sisters in Christ. The first and foremost resource on living in accordance with Scripture and being a Christian is, to me, The Bible. I've been guilty of reading a bit, and then leaving it to the side for ages, only picking it back up when I'm having a rough go. If this season of my life has taught me anything its that the Bible is like fuel for our soul. You wouldn't constantly let your car run out of gas. You keep it fueled up properly so it runs its best. I don't want to let my soul run out of the spiritual nourishment that the Bible provides. I don't want to become full of dispair and worry and fear, lacking even the faith to believe that God will get me through the day. No, its much better, in my opinion, to stay 'stocked up' if you will. I do find that there is quite a bit of, well, division when it comes to reading and interpreting the Bible. Its sad that the Bible has become somewhat divisive when it needn't be. Here's what I mean when I say that: There are those who take the Bible literally and those who view it more metaphorically. People who follow the old testament and those who seem to disregard it entirely(until they want to start in on me about evolution...but that's another post entirely!). Here's the deal(in my opinion): You can put ANY book in front of two different people and they will come away with the book from two different things. Sure, you could direct them and have them come to a similar message, but not everyone is going to get the same thing from it. To me, its the same with the Bible. I can read my Bible and Cranky Pirate can read his Bible and we may come away with two different messages from the same verse! It doesn't mean I'm right....nor does it mean that Cranky Pirate is right. We're neither right nor wrong, honestly. God has a plan and a path for every person. He needs for each of His children to get on the path He has created for them. Therefore, not everyone can come away from the Bible or from prayer with the same messages. Sure, you could guide their prayer or influence them to see the message you've recieved from Scripture, but, at best it should be shared in a loving, conversational manner. Not to be used as judgement or to show superiority. The Bible is not an instrument of judgement or hate. When people who pick apart Scripture and use the Bible as a weapon, slinging acid at those from behind the Bible as if they were entitled to judge anyone get going, it pushes people AWAY from Christ and only harms Christians in the process. Blessedly, as all Christians know, no mere Human has the place to judge any other person. God will convict and judge us all as he see's fit. I'm thankful for that. I've failed and fallen short many times in my life. Not just according to man, but according to Scripture and to God. However, God knows my heart. He knows that His son lives within me. He knows that I am patient and walk the path that Has put me on. The life I live is NOT to the benefit or convenience of myself or of any person. I live my life to the glory of God, so that He can be honored in everything I do, even if on some days, its just laundry! :) I'm rich here because I'm blessed. I'm charged with raising children to His glory and on building my life in Heaven. Everyone dies, but through Christ, I get to live again!
Another great resource, in my opinion is 'A Savvy Christian's Guide To Life' by Tracey D. Lawrence. Even though I've been a Christian for YEARS, I still consider this to be not only a great read for 'newbie' Christians, but for the old school as well. Its got GREAT ideas for navigating sometimes tricky social and ethical situations, while giving the information in a warm, non-judgemental and often humerous manner. Its a good 'breaking-in guide' if you will! If you're REALLY looking to get in to some VERY deep reading and wanting to reflect on the true state of your relationship with Christ, then I have to recommend 'The Christian Atheist' by Craig Groeschel. Now, to let you know, this book can be a very hard and draining read. Its beautifully brutal and will quickly help you to realize if you are 'walking the talk', so to speak.
Now, to that effect, I should, at the very least, offer up what I believe in so that it is known where I am coming from. I believe in The Apostles Creed. To me, I just don't see how I could be a Christian without believing in it. I believe that, if you were to be 'accused' of being Christian, then there should, accordingly, be sufficient 'evidence'! Do people see the light of God shining through you. Do your works and your nature draw people to God and reaffirm that Christ lives in you? Not that good works alone are the way to heaven, as honestly, there is no 'do'. It is done. God purchased my ticket into Heaven with the blood of His son, Jesus Christ. However, once I accept that ticket, my life should reflect my commitment to Christ. Doing good deeds, while good, won't Save me, but will follow being saved. Your Christianity is not just an aspect of who you are. It IS who you are. It is a active relationship with God. The keys to salvation are right there in the Bible. In Acts 26:18, when Paul is describing how God called him to preach the Gospel message, he explained that God told him to preach the Gospel which was comprised of a person hearing it and realizing it was given "To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me." When you become a Christian, you acknowledge that there is one true God and that Jesus Christ is his Son. You invite Christ to live in your heart and turn your life over to the direction of God. This is what being a Christian means to me. Notice, nowhere did I mention that it means showing up to church once a week in your nicest clothing and taking part in a social event. In my opinion its not about showing up to church to show off new shoes, or on listing Christian as your religion on your social networking site. Its not about saying it. Its about BEING Christian. I don't want to be a 'Sunday Christian' that goes to church on Sunday and sits blankly the whole time, then leaves church and starts cursing people on the way out of the parking lot! Yes, it happens, and I'm still amazed every time. I want there to be sufficient evidence to build a case to prove my Christianity. Not based on my collection of bumper stickers or crosses or Bibles, but based on my salvation and how I live my life, striving to be a Proverbs 31 woman and drawing more people to God and to salvation. I want to walk the walk and talk the talk all the way and one day be rewarded with riches beyond compare when I'm called home. Everyone has to find their own path, their own calling if you will. Or, I suppose, has to find the courage to answer when God calls.