Christians – Making the Simple Complicated For 2000 Years

Question – what is a Christian supposed to do?  Answer – a Christian is supposed to read their Bible every day, go to church every Sunday, maybe two or three times, pray silently asking for the Holy Spirit daily, confess sin, give to the poor, tithe their income, bless their enemies, go to a spiritual camp such as New Wine every year, help out at church, never swear, always smile, be patient in adversity, be hospitable to everyone, sing hymns and worship songs whilst doing the housework, be totally honest, recycle everything, live a frugal existence……..STOP!!!

Really? Is this what a good Christian is? This is what many people who consider themselves Christians do – but not all of it, not all of the time. Does that make them bad? And how about the denominations? Disagreements about Mary, the Eucharist, styles of worship, altar cloths, baptism, pews or chairs, hell and heaven, candles, wall hangings, vestments, liturgy, confession…. it goes on.  Some of it is trivial and some of it isn’t. Trouble is we can’t even decide which bits actually matter. All of it is distracting.

Let us consider what it is that we are actually called to do.

John 6 (NIV)
v 28 Then they asked him, ‘What must we do to do the works God requires?’

v 29 Jesus answered, ‘The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.’

How simple is this? Good works should hopefully spring from this but we can not measure how good a Christian is by these works. In fact we can’t measure how good a Christian is at all a) because we really have no idea what is going on in someone else’s life and b) because we all fall short. (It doesn’t matter whether you miss the train by two seconds or two hours.)

From the beginning Christians have got caught up in complicating the whole issue. Even the Nicene Creed, which was supposed to clarify things, doesn’t make things so clear that the church has unity.

But Jesus’ statement has the potential to bring unity if we let it.
We are called to believe in Him. That’s all. The rest is just complication.

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2 thoughts on “Christians – Making the Simple Complicated For 2000 Years

  1. Interesting post – I enjoyed reading it! I guess though that the whole notion of belief and faith do complicate things because we are working out our salvation “in fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12) Similarly, we’re told that the greatest commandments are to love God first and then love our neighbours as ourselves (Mark 12:30-31) but how does that work in practice?

    Maybe we can be too simplistic about things? Yes, we need only believe, but what effect does/should that have, and how do we measure that? Should we measure it? The Bible seems to imply that we should… Matthew 7:16 – By their fruit you will recognise them.

    I guess it’s about finding the balance between knowing we fall short yet recognising that eternity for us has already started and with it comes responsibility of growing in Christlikeness without condemning and/or judging TO condemnation, or of course feeling condemned and judged ourselves.

    Thanks for giving me something to think about today!

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    • And thank you for your reply. I agree, we can over simplify. On the other hand we are to approach the Kingdom as children – curious and uncluttered. I think we can let “stuff” get between us and Jesus, and between us and each other. Can we recognise their fruit if we are tutting about the choice of hymn? Some of my most spiritual moments have been where there hasn’t been an altar cloth in sight. Having said that, the altar cloths at our church are made by a talented member of the congregation and every stitch is a prayer and so a blessing – her fruit is very clear. I guess the answer is to do it with love – whatever “it” is.

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