Often I find true Christianity being portrayed as something that a little sincere study of Scripture proves it not to be. Take for instance this thought… Christianity is just a religion of lists commanding such things as, do this but do not do that. And successful completion of the command grants one the ability to systematically check off portions of the list, thereby placing the performer in a good standing with God. Sometimes I wish it were that simple.
I mean if it were enough to- wear the correct clothing; or speak the right words; maybe it could come with attending church services the necessary number of times a week. Would it not be wonderful if it was more about the group of people you associated with, or your chosen Denomination? Or even how much money you give in the offering plate…
You think I am making light. I assure you I am not, the means to salvation is not a light issue, the eternal destination of one’s soul is not a frivolous consideration. And perhaps we should stop making it out to be. For starters true Christianity is not a works based faith- (Please don’t come quoting James 2:17-18, especially if you do not live James chapter 3). Christianity is not a works based faith because it cannot be. If it were we have already failed.
But for my super-righteous, holier-than-thou, shaven face brethren, (descendants of those whom Jesus spent most of His ministry openly rebuking), the ones who really love their lists; I know you are going to need something definitive that will perhaps help you realize that even you with all your checked-marked lists, are STILL falling short…
How about we start with The Sermon on the Mount.
Found in Matthew chapters 5-7, this teaching really slays me every time I read it. Jesus pushes the already high bar of the law infinitely out of man’s reach. This is why we read at the conclusion of the sermon that “the people were astonished at his doctrine”. It is an astonishing thing when we realize that no matter how good we are, no matter how little “wrong” we do, if we are relying on our righteousness (our right-standing) before God we are woefully coming short of qualifying.
Still disagree with what I am saying? Then add this to your particular list and see how you do for awhile.
Matthew 5:44-45 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.
Me? I fail at this every single day. Love your enemies, really! I cannot do it in and of myself, I need an outside source to enable me to, I need Jesus Christ, and so do you.
By the way, He- Jesus, was able to do it, to love his enemies…
Romans 5:8-11 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.