What I've Learned About Christianity in 10 Years
I was baptized March 12th, 2011, but my walk with God began about four years before that right when I finished high school. I no longer had the excuse of my parents, my home situation or my adolescence to blame when it came to whether or not I was going to follow God. It was all on me. In ten years, these are the highlights of what I learned:
1. The quality of your relationship with Jesus Christ is 100% dependent on you – you choose if it’ll be a good relationship or a bad one.
God chose you before you were even born (John 15:16). He will stop at nothing to have you. However, you get to decide how well that relationship is going to go. If you resist Him, refuse to submit to Him, you’re not going to have a very positive relationship (Job 22:21; James 4:1-3). Don’t get me wrong, God will let you do as you please, but you won’t like the natural consequences of living outside of his will for your life.
2. If the advice you get isn’t biblical it’s probably not very good advice.
ALL scripture is useful for every GOOD work (2 Timothy 3:16-17). All if it. Not some of it. Not only on Sunday mornings or Wednesday nights. Every bit of it is useful if you plan to do any good work, because that’s the whole point of it. It tells you what God’s work is, and since God is good, all the time, it would make sense that His Word and work is good, all the time, too. Make sure you’re using it properly (ie: read the entire context).
3. We are a very forgetful species.
Jeremiah is ripe with scriptures about this (Jeremiah 2:32; 3:21; 18:15; 23:27; 50:6). We’re forgetful! We are like sheep (Psalm 78:52; 100:3; Matthew 25:32), and we’ll follow a crowd no matter what. Even if five minutes ago our shepherd showed us a much better route than the one the crowd is on. If you’re going to trust God, record times he’s proven himself trustworthy in your life. I write down my answered prayers. It encourages me to keep praying when I start to wonder if He’s even listening. Fact: He is.
4. If you’re not being persecuted and loved for your faith, you’re probably not doing it very well.
Jesus was deeply loved by those who knew him best (John 21:14-17; Acts 5:29-31). He was also viciously hated by those threatened by his teaching (Matthew 12:13-14; 26:3-4; Luke 13:31; John 7:1). If you want to follow Jesus, actually walking and living out your faith (James 2:18-24), you will be deeply loved, and you will be hated and persecuted. There’s no way around it.
5. Be still. Seriously.
We try to do far too much. Rather, I try to do far too much. I quickly and vey easily fall into a works mentality that involves saving myself. Once a week I force myself to take an hour and be still. No matter what battles I’m up against or how busy my schedule is (Exodus 14:14). This is a whole lot easier in the summer, but I take an hour and go on a hike, sit on the porch, go to the beach, or something that involves getting out in GOD’S creation. Not mans. I watch everything around me exist and thrive on only what God provides for it. It does nothing for itself and survives only because God gives it permission to do so. Then I try to live out the rest of my week doing exactly that – remembering that I exist only because God’s grace says I have permission to do so.
6. If you live in a country with religious freedom, and I do mean true freedom, you have zero excuse for not living out the great commission. ZERO.
The worst thing someone can do is say no. I live in the United States, and if someone tries to kill me, beat me up or does some other harmful thing to me because I’m a Christian that’s called a hate crime, and that person goes to jail. I live in one of the most religiously tolerant (painfully so) countries in the world. The worse thing someone can to do is say “no” in a snarky way. I lived in the Middle East for a year where the consequences were much more violent, and legal. Talking about my Christian church or reading my Bible in public would have given any Muslim a reason to call the police and have me arrested. And it would have been legal. Either way, my fear can’t be of man, but of God who is far more worthy to be feared (Matthew 10:28)
7. If your every action isn’t motivated by love, you’re wrong.
Jesus’ new command that supersedes all other commands – love one another. As Christ loves you (John 13:34). Sacrificially, without reservation, wholly giving and asking only ONE thing in return – to be loved back... and keep loving when it's not returned. Loving someone like that sometimes means saying “no” and sometimes it means pushing him to step out in faith when he’s terrified of doing so. Sometimes it’s an “I love you” or an “I’ll protect you” and actually backing it up. But it’s a love that always has someone else’s best interest in mind. Anything else is selfish and against the whole point of Christ on the cross. Imagine how this world would be if we all loved each other with others’ best interests in mind, sacrificially and completely… the same way Christ loved?
8. All of Christianity is a relationship between God’s grace and your repentance.
It’s a relationship people! Emphasis on RELATIONSHIP. It’s not about checking all the right boxes to go to heaven. Heaven is God's home. If you don’t have a relationship with His son Jesus, if you don’t know Him (Matthew 7:22-24), why would He let you into His home? Why would you even want to be there? The relationship has to start NOW, today, and be lived out every day. It's possible only because God's grace makes it possible, and repentance, a response to God's love, is a gift of God's grace so you can be right with Him.
9. Believe it or not, getting to heaven isn’t the end-goal! There's more, and it's better.
There are only two greatest commands according to Jesus: love God with all your heart, soul and mind, and love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 27:37-39). This starts now, while you're on earth. You don't wait until you get to heaven to start doing this. Heaven is an amazing reward! But it’s not the goal. A deepening relationship with Jesus Christ as your savior is the ultimate goal. The beauty of this relationship is that it's never-ending, which means the benefits, blessing, rewards, etc. will never cease so long as you're pursuing Him. THAT is a life well lived. Heaven is just the eternal after party. And it’ll be a pretty epic after party.
10. Everything and everyone lives and breathes God’s grace. Pass it on.
Stop trying to earn points with God. He’s not keeping score. Stop thinking you can get him to love you more if you just ______. He loves you the same today, yesterday and tomorrow. His love cannot increase or decrease because He IS love (1 John 4:8). Jesus Christ never changes (Hebrews 13:8) so the love He had for you to die on a cross for you is the same love He has for you right now. That’s called grace. No matter how bad you screw up, He’ll love you the same. No matter how great of a Christian you become, He’ll love you the same. There’s so much FREEDOM in that! Don’t let it go to waste – live in it and pass it on to others. Share the source.