Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Christian Faith: The Basics, Part 1

I'm sure that I heard the Christian message in the churches I attended as a boy. But I probably wasn't paying attention.

By the time I got into my teen years, I had almost no connection with the Church. If you'd asked me in those days what the Christian faith was all about, I likely would have said something like, "Doing good and a nice man named Jesus."

Later, with a superficial knowledge of science and a big ego, I decided that there was no God...and that if such a Being existed, I didn't need Him.

That's the way things remained for me throughout my late-teens and as I turned twenty.

But then, something changed. I met a girl. Or, I should say, I re-met a girl. I'd been aware of her since we were in junior high school. Now, in my junior year of college, I fell in love with her and she, improbably, fell in love with me.

She also happened to be a Christian whose faith and the congregation of warm, fun people of which she was a part, meant a lot to her.

She was a Lutheran. In heaven, Jesus-Followers will wear no denominational adjectives, of course. And denominationalism, the notion that one expression of Christianity has a corner on God, is damnable nonsense.

But I also think that denominations--or at least theologies of varying emphases--are likely a brainchild of God. As I say, I'm sure that I'd heard the Gospel message before. But it was in a Lutheran congregation, with its unshakeable belief in the love God has for sinners and in the extension of forgiveness to the repentant who see the beauty and power of God's passion for humanity in the cross, that I really got the Christian message for the first time in my life.

God knew that I spoke "Lutheranese," I guess, and when He spoke His message to me in that language, I fell head-over-heels in love again...this time with the God made known to the world in Jesus Christ.

Other people hear God's call in Jesus Christ in other theological languages. But the effect is always the same: To hear the message God gives to the world through Christ is like a swallow of cold, clear water for a weary wanderer. It brings life and hope and peace.

What I intend to do in this series is talk about the basics of Christian faith.

Maybe through it, you'll fall in love with Jesus like I did. (At least I can hope.)

Or, maybe you'll fall in love with Him again.

Or, maybe, to satisfy your intellectual curiosity, you can learn something of what Christian faith is really about.

Whatever, I'll try to keep these posts short...shorter than this one...and I hope, helpful.

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