A Short Primer on Christianity

           It perhaps goes without saying, but, nevertheless, really does need to be said explicitly:  Christianity is and revolves around the person of Jesus Christ.  Anything less is not Christianity.  Christ is the second person of the Trinity, the triune God, with the Father and the Spirit – three persons, one God.  God the Father determined that in all things Christ would have preeminence (Colossians 1:18).  Therefore, the equal and full realities of Christ’s humanity and deity are of central importance.
            Christ’s humanity should not be suppressed, ignored, or diminished in order to protect his deity.  Christ’s deity must never be marginalized in order to bring his humanity to the fore.  Both the deity and humanity of Jesus must be carefully maintained at all times.  To do less is not Christianity.
            Only through this God-Man, Jesus, could redemption from an empty sinful way of life be accomplished for us.  This union of humanity and deity in Jesus alone is able to secure a new and fresh relationship with God, and do away with alienation, hate, death, and eternal torment.
            Jesus Christ is the ultimate prophet.  He has revealed to us the will of God for our salvation.  Christ is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6).  Jesus has promised that the truth will set us free (John 8:32; 1 John 5:9-13).  Freedom involves knowledge, honesty, and decisions of faith, hope, and love whereby the truth is applied in one’s life.
            Jesus Christ is the ultimate priest.  He is the once-for-all offering as a sacrifice to atone for our sinfulness, to reconcile us to God, and now continually makes intercession for us (Romans 5:8-10; Hebrews 4:14, 5:6, 7:23-27, 9:11-12; 1 John 2:1).  As our representative, and the pioneer of our salvation, Jesus has blessed us with every spiritual blessing (Ephesians 1:3; 2 Peter 1:3).
            Jesus Christ is the universal King.  He is the rightful Ruler of all things (Matthew 21:5; John 18:36-37; Ephesians 1:20-23; Philippians 2:9-11; Revelation 1:5).  Jesus possesses all authority in heaven and on earth, and is Supreme over the Church.  He is able to make all things work together for good in life of his people (Romans 8:28-29).
            The church, therefore, is to do everything by completely wrapping herself around the person and work of Jesus Christ.  We are to continually unbend ourselves to conformity with prevailing cultural mores, and, instead, be thoroughly transformed through the complete renovation of our minds (Romans 12:1-2).  Our true spiritual act of worship in the church is to exalt the name of Jesus, praise Christ’s holy name, and enamor ourselves with his incredible grace, mercy, and peace.
            What this means, then, is that Christianity is not about being a particular nationality or ethnicity; is not merely a belief system; and, is not only an assent to certain facts and knowledge.  Rather, Christianity is a living relationship with Jesus, our Savior, Lord, Teacher, and Healer.  Christ scandalously died through an instrument of torture, the cross, which has become for us, ironically, our badge of honor and identity.  In short, since Jesus lived, died, and rose from death, we, too, as Christians, die to ourselves and live into a new life secured for us by Christ.  Through faith in this very unique God-Man, we are saved.


            This makes the church the Community of the Redeemed, a special people who are different than all other people because our lives are totally centered round Jesus.  Anything less is neither church, nor Christianity.  Christians are people secure in their identity, bold in their witness of Jesus, and concerned to serve the world in the words and ways of Christ, through the power of God’s Holy Spirit.  May it be so.

Faith in Jesus Changes Everything

Having done my share of weddings, I can tell you that something always goes awry and not according to plan.  Sometimes it is a big thing, sometimes a small thing.  I have had best men forget rings, bridesmaids faint, sound systems go out, and, both grooms and brides either laugh or cry so much that they can’t say their vows.  And then there is the reception.  I have been at receptions where we had to wait two hours for the food to be ready, places where different food had to be served than planned, and situations where there was no alcohol and circumstances where there was probably too much alcohol.
            Back in Christ’s day, a wedding ceremony lasted a full week with a feast at the groom’s home.  Running out of wine constituted a real social crisis.  Sometimes we forget that Jesus attended weddings and participated in gladness, celebration, and joy (John 2:1-11).  God is not always some dour upset divine Being who has no place for a party.  When a person places his/her faith in Christ, it does not necessarily mean taking vows of chastity, poverty, and going without the enjoyable things of this created world.  In fact, it makes complete sense that Christians above all other people would be people of deep faith and lots of celebration.
            Since Christians have been liberated from the fear of death; since they have meaning and purpose to life; since they are forgiven and made right by Christ, justified by him, there really ought to be a preoccupation with parties, banquets, feasts, and general merriment.  Christians ought to attract people to the church quite literally by the fun there is in being a Christian.
            If that piques your interest, and you are finding that your church experience is not always an enjoyable one, then pay attention to three important observations about faith in Jesus from the miracle of the wedding at Cana.
1.      Nobody looked for Jesus until the wine was gone.
            Old wine is still wine, and it was enough to keep the guests from seeking Jesus.  Many people do not pursue faith in Jesus until the old something runs out.  Those old attitudes, actions, habits, hurts, insecurities, and information are what we rely on and return to when things are rough.  But those old things can get in the way of faith in Jesus.  Sometimes the old just has to completely dry up and go away until we are truly open to Jesus.
            There are times when God allows all the old friends, old reliance, and old habits to run out so that there is no possible way of going back to it.  In order to embrace a new and living faith in Jesus Christ, the past trust in certain ways of doing things must go away.  This is why people most often come to faith in Christ in a time of crisis or trouble.  The rug has been pulled out from underneath them and they have no one and nowhere to look.  Sometimes, until the old is stripped away we cannot see the new possibilities of a fresh faith in Jesus.
2.      Obedience has to be mixed with faith.
            If we want Jesus to move in our churches, then we must do what he says.  Jesus commanded the servants at the wedding in Cana to fill the jars with water.  Fill them with water.  Without knowing the end of the story, this makes no sense at all.  But obeying Jesus was important because without it there is no miracle.  We really need to quit looking at what we have lost and no longer possess, and look to Jesus, giving him what we do have.  Jesus can do something with whatever we give him.  If it is only water, then he can turn water into wine.
            It is easy to become discouraged.  But sometimes only a few people who do what Jesus says, is enough.  They might not have much, but they bring what they have, and they end up seeing God’s glory.  We can trust Jesus by doing something simple:  give him what you have instead of wishing you had something more or different.
            Jesus did not explain himself.  He did not lay out his goals and strategy to the people.  Jesus just told the servants to fill the jars with water.  If you are a person of simple prayer, offer your prayers to Jesus and watch what he can do with them.  If you are a simple servant, give your service to Jesus and let him transform it into the miraculous. 
3.      The response of the disciples is that they believed.
            The disciples put their faith in Jesus.  Here is thought to think about:  maybe faith is kindled through parties and food more than it is through abstaining from stuff.  Perhaps the kingdom of God is marked predominantly by radical hospitality because it may illicit faith in people more than anything else.  Maybe the party-planning fun-loving playful otters in the church are the ones to take the lead in showing us the way to faith in Jesus.  Maybe eating and drinking with people is the avenue of showing Jesus to others.
            Faith is not a static one-time event.  Rather, faith is a process of getting to know Jesus, like having an easy conversation with him across the table.  Like an ever-deepening friendship, being in the company of Jesus can bring us great joy and gladness.


            Church ministry is meant to be enjoyable and liberating; it is not meant to be overly austere and difficult.  We are to delight in the good gifts that God has provided.  The miraculous sign of the wedding feast points to God’s grace.  Jesus is the source of every good thing; faith in him changes everything.  Since Jesus is here, God is with us.  Because God is present, let the party begin!