Because the “Great Commission” calls us to bring
others to a belief in Jesus as our personal Savior, I'd like to give you my "take" on the subject of Christianity because
it's simple and straightforward. I need to tell you about this because it is so fundamental and important to every human being
on the planet earth and maybe even elsewhere. In addition, God has commanded us to go forth and spread his word "to all nations".
This is my small attempt to do just that.
My belief is based on the Bible & teachings I've received
over my lifetime. Some say the Bible isn't strictly "literal" - that is to say - things didn't happen just the way we read
them in the Bible because it has been through many translations and much of it is in "parables". Parables are in story form
to make moral or religious principles understandable. One example to me is the story of creation in the book of Genesis. Creation
is described as happening over six "days". Some scholars believe it was via the "big bang" theory where the universe came
about by a catastrophic happening in space. Others preach the Darwinian theory of evolution where man gradually progressed
from creatures, animals and monkeys to our current form. Biblical authors weren't there to witness creation. They wrote the
Bible from God's inspiration and the passage of "time" is hypothetical as it relates to biblical happenings. To me, it matters
not just how all things got started. The important thing is to realize and believe that an all powerful, awesome "something"
had the ability to do the creation thing - to me that something is "God" the Creator. When you think about the universe, the
logic of numbers, the unending advancements in technology, nature and its wonders, you simply must believe there truly is
a God who created the wonders of the earth and gave man the raw materials and brains to discover and make many of the magnificent
things we enjoy today.
The next basic thing you must realize and believe is that
the Bible is the word of God put forth in a way that we humans can understand. The humans that wrote the Bible received their
writings from God, probably not face to face except in some instances, but certainly by "inspiration". That is to say, they
wrote God's words for Him by hand-me-down stories, visions, and, in some cases, personal experiences.
Another basic. God created man in His own image and we are
to have dominion over the earth - that is to say, we have an intelligent brain & God gave us the privilege of choice –
that is, making our own decisions. Take this basic & run with it a bit. Through God's great gift, we humans have the brain
power to create almost anything. Because we have been blessed with the very unique gift of decision making, we can screw up
or do what's pleasing to God. The Bible is full of accounts of humans screwing up and displeasing God. He created the flood
and plagues yet humans didn't get the message because we continued to screw up. So God tried another approach.
God came to earth as a man in the form of Jesus through the
miracle of Immaculate Conception (basically, that means that Mary became pregnant by God's Devine intervention & without
having intercourse with a human male). He lived among us, taught us his ways, was ridiculed, rejected, brutally beat up, and
ultimately put to death. Now remember, God is all powerful. He could have stopped all of Jesus' suffering and agony but didn't
because he had a more awesome plan. By letting Jesus die on the cross, God filled His promise to send a "savior" so we humans
could be saved from all the wrong things we'd done and would do in the future. There was only one condition - WE MUST BELIEVE
AND HAVE FAITH THAT JESUS DIED TO SAVE US FROM OUR SINS SO WE CAN SPEND ETERNITY WITH HIM IN PARADISE!! (Per John 3:16). If
you believe and are baptized, you will be saved. If you don't believe, you will be damned (Matthew 16:16). That's pretty straightforward
and powerful stuff.
So what does all this mean to you & me here in our day
and age? It means that we can decide to believe in God's miracle and promise - or reject it as a bunch of hogwash. Remember,
we have the privilege of making our own decisions. If we reject this miracle, we miss the paradise opportunity and the Bible
says we spend eternity in Hades - known as a very ugly & miserable state of being. Because mankind is basically selfish
and wants to indulge in all the pleasurable things available to us, too many decide to reject this miracle & ignore God.
But, if we believe & have faith in His promise, we spend eternity in paradise with God – wherever that is –
maybe another one of the many stars or planets that he created in the universe. Who knows?
WOW! To me, that's an awesome promise. I surely don't want
to make the wrong choice here. I'm so very overwhelmed with the consequences and the unselfish promise of an eternal life
in paradise that I WANT TO SHOW MY GRATITUDE by trying my best to live a life pleasing to God - to use the gifts and blessings
I've received from Him to help others. Being selfish, being unkind to others, breaking the law, mistreating our minds &
bodies, etc. certainly does not please God who is a loving & caring God. He is also a forgiving God and if we truly regret
our bad thoughts & deeds and have FAITH in his promise, we are again in His good graces. THE KEY HERE IS TO BE SO THANKFUL
FOR GOD'S PROMISE OF PARADISE THAT WE WANT TO SHARE OUR BLESSINGS AND LIVE A LIFE PLEASING TO HIM. Jesus' death and resurrection
assures us a place in paradise if we have FAITH & believe. Daily prayer helps keep our focus, strengthens our faith, and
often brings things for which we pray. My daily prayer thanks God for all my many blessings and asks His help in making my
thoughts, words, and deeds pleasing to Him. And above all, I ask that he grant me my requests ONLY TO THE EXTENT IT
IS HIS WILL!
And here's another little twist. You can't "prove" the Bible.
There's much to help us believe in the story and promise - His word has survived well over 2,000 years, many recorded miracles
give credence to the word (how about the miracle of Jesus' resurrection), ancient documents help give credibility to the Bible
writings, many brilliant scholars and clergy have perpetuated the truth - but there's still no hard-nosed "proof". That's
again why "FAITH" is so fundamental.
So - that's my pretty simplistic interpretation of this thing
we call Christianity. It would probably cause pastors and scholars to throw up, but that's the guts of it to me. So we all
have a choice - believe & have faith or call it bunk. It's a big gamble so I hope you make the right decision!
Here’s a 2011 add on to my testimony – presented
here in the hope our experiences with tithing will help someone with sharing their blessings:
Sixty three years ago, being very young, newly wed, &
charter members of the Lutheran church in La Canada, California, my wife & I had a discussion with the stewardship chairman
regarding our pledge – hopefully the Biblical tithe of 10% of our income to God’s work. He presented the
analogy of an athlete wanting to compete in a marathon. The athlete certainly wouldn’t start out trying to run
the entire distance at the beginning of his training. Rather, he would start out slowly and condition himself for the
full 26 mile ordeal. In a similar manner, he suggested we work up to our tithe objective by dedicating some percent
of our gross income and increase that percentage every six months or maybe every year. That made a lot of sense to us
as a young couple with limited income, and by now we have well exceeded the 10% tithe goal.
As positive proof that our good Lord and Savior is true to
his word that he will provide for us, we have never been in serious need of anything. Our mental & physical health
has been remarkably good. We have never been without adequate finances. We’ve been blessed with an extended
family and live in one of the greatest places on the planet.
We know that tithing works as an expression of our faith.
And we know too that our faith has made our lives full of these blessings. We’ve certainly had some ups and downs,
but with prayer, faith & God’s help we’ve been able to handle the tough times.