"Christianity is in its nature revolutionary." ― Walter RauschenbuschI have long believed that Christianity is both the easiest and the most difficult, thing in all the world. I believe it to be easy because it's a simple faith that means trusting in the Lordship of an all powerful God despite uncontrollable circumstances and involves three simple concepts: faith, hope, love. Yet it is the most difficult thing in all the world because to follow Christ involves sacrifice of your life and ambitions. In the process you become all you are meant to be and become more truly your best self, but your selfishness and ambition is lost at the same time. There's a strict conflict of interest here.
As Philippians 1:21 says "For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain." And there is such a truth in recognizing this very idea: to live in this world that is not my home means sacrificing my own ambition for the goals of Christ - to know him and the power of his resurrection zealously. I use the word zealously purposefully because the idea of being zealous is not a popular one but really to be zealous is to be full of passion - but more so to be active in that passion.
It is this idea that more and more drives me onwards. Yes, I am human and I fall to the temptations of life and my own passions and emotions. But as I come to know Christ more and more I realise that I would rather lose a friend for the sake of letting them know the gospel, than not share that gospel with them and keep their friendship. There is a zeal that is being developed in my life - an urgency that I want to lay hold of.
To me, true Christianity is not something that any one denomination or person can lay claim to. But it is a Christianity that is active. To be a Christian is to become like Christ and he was not an individual who sat around in pews listening to motivational speakers for his lifetime - he was active in hearing from God and discipling those around him.
It was only this year (thanks to others discipling me) that I have come to grasp what James was getting at in James 2 when talking about faith and works. Because James writes in a passionate, almost legalistic manner, I missed the whole point to a degree.
James 2:22-24 "22Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect? 23 And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” And he was called the friend of God. 24 You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only."James is providing a reminder to us all that our Christian faith is not about being lazy, about every so often telling people about who we are. It's about actively living life as a follower of Christ - of allowing faith to guide us in the prophetic words we speak out, the encouragements we provide, the ways we use our gifts and talents in various fields. My greatest talent is in my positive outlook and communicative ability which enables me to encourage people and to write and speak in ways not everyone can. But I want to use that gift all for God's glory!
I just read Ezekiel 6, in which the prophet is told by God to go and speak out against Israel and tell them that God will bring a sword against them. In verse 13 it says "And they will know that I am the Lord, when their people lie slain among their idols around their altars, on every high hill and on all the mountaintops, under every spreading tree and every leafy oak—places where they offered fragrant incense to all their idols." I felt prompted by God to read this earlier and it quickly struck me what he was saying in relation to this whole post: knowing Him means being active in your daily choices.
The people of Israel chose to turn to other idols, other material things, rather than trust in their God who had provided so much. They lost the active edge to their faith and God therefore needed to shake them out of that with selected trials and persecutions.
Recently I have come to realise myself just how much I want to turn to and truly know him intimately: not just intellectually but deep down. And as I have begun this process I've found that some prayers I have had for a while have been answered and that I have found a new sense of peace and relevance in an irrelevant ungodly world. And what God has been teaching me is that knowing him is about being active - that human relationships are in a sense an indicator of how we are to know him. When you are in romantic love there are indicators to everyone else that you love. In a much greater way, because I know the all powerful God, I should let my faith, my hope and above all my love be active to the point where people should be able to just see that I know the love he has for me and that I love him.
As Colossians 3:14 makes a point of saying "And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity." My concluding point is this: make your love be active, make your faith active. If you believe in Christianity, do not just believe as you might believe in a sporting athlete, a movie star or a musician. Believe actively - with all the signs and passion of someone who truly knows that you are just passing through and that there are better rewards for you in the future. It might be difficult to grasp fully (impossible in a sense) but we can all begin to get this right now before God needs to shake our world up. Because, let's be honest, despite all the pain and difficulty life throws at us, we should be shaking the world as conquerors, not the other way around!
“The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult; and left untried.” ― G.K. Chesterton