Christian Life Resource Group

Lifeways

jesus-sermon-on-the-mount-painting-by-carl-heinrich-bloch-815x912Summary. The Christian Life Resource Group offers information and resources for Christians and non-Christians wanting to learn more about Christianity.

Documents. This page is a prerequisite and starting point that offers a comprehensive overview of Christianity. For further reading, here are some articles and reference documents on our site about Christianity.

20130403we-acts291-logo-with-shadow-240x240Goal of Christianity. The message, mission, and purpose of Jesus is described in this prayer that is accredited to him: “Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven.” Christianity is the pursuit of a Christ-like life for the purpose of helping to establish the Kingdom of God (heaven) on earth.

Christ-likeness. At its most basic level, Christianity is the pursuit of living according to the teachings and example of Jesus, a first century Jewish evangelist, teacher, motivational speaker, and son of God (pictured above teaching). Some present-day ministries, such as Frangipane.org, focus primarily on the simple and practical message of Christ-likeness as being at the core of the Christian message.

Perceptions of Christianity. Regarding Jesus and Christianity, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi had this to say:

“I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ… If Christians would really live according to the teachings of Christ, as found in the Bible, all of India would be Christian today.” – Mahatma Gandhi (bapu)

These are strong words from Gandhi, yet probably somewhat applicable throughout the world and throughout history.

* * *

Characteristics of Christ. Jesus taught and demonstrated the following characteristics that his followers are supposed to be embracing and emulating.

  • “And the Lord’s servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful.” (2 Timothy 2:24 NIV)
  • “…in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love; in truthful speech…” (2 Corinthians 6:6-7 NIV)
  • “…the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” (Galatians 5:22-23 NIV)
  • “…clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” (Colossians 3:12 NIV)
  • “Let your gentleness be evident to all.” (Philippians 4:5 NIV)
  • “But you, person of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness.” (1 Timothy 6:11 NIV)
  • “Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. … Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:9-21 NIV)
  • “…make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive….” (2 Peter 1:5-8 NIV)

* * *

Viewpoints on the Jewishness of Jesus. Jesus quoted Jewish texts in his teachings and challenged Jews of his day to be more true to the Jewish religion. His Jewish religious believes and practices have evolved into what we today call Christianity. There are three branches of Christianity with respect to Judaism.

  1. Old Judaism. Some people point to the fact that Jesus is Jewish and believe that present-day Christianity has departed from his Jewish message and faith. [Source]
  2. New Judaism. Still others suggest that a fusion of both Judaism and Christianity is possible, and better represents the life and teachings of Jesus. [Source]
  3. Beyond Judaism. Others point to the uniqueness of Jesus’ message and suggest it’s appropriate to create a new religion that remains friendly toward Judaism, but uniquely independent of Judaism. [Source]

* * *

Two Christianities. There are generally two kinds of Christianity.

  1. The first kind of Christianity promotes living a Christ-like life. Those who follow the teachings and example of Christ become happier and more effective. Salvation isn’t the focus, but instead a passion to learn about Jesus and apply his teachings is the focus.
  2. The second kind of Christianity doesn’t focus so much on living like Jesus, but instead focuses primarily on salvation through believing in Jesus. With an emphasis on a simple prayer that provides forgiveness of sins and eternal life in heaven, living a perfect life in the present isn’t as important. Bible study and Christ-likeness are helpful, but not essential.

* * *

Becoming Christian. There are differing views of what is required to become a Christian. Some believe an elaborate and lengthy processes of conversion and indoctrination (like Catechism) is necessary. Other authorities insist such indoctrination is not necessary and recognize an individual’s freedom to independently proclaim and express their Christian faith. According to this view, to become a Christian, you can simply say a sincere prayer to God that is in your own words from your heart expressing your desire for God to have influence in your life to help you live a life that is responsive to the teachings and life of Christ. The more personalized, intimate, and unique your prayer the more effective it can be. Here is an example of such a prayer, “Dear God, I want to be the best person I possibly can and have the most positive impact possible upon my family, my friends, my community, and the world. Please show me how to do this. Please give me insights, reveal the meaning of the Bible, and show me the meaning of Christ’s life and death and what that means for me.”

* * *

Seven Spiritual Food Groups. The Christian life, walk, and journey is one of acknowledging, identifying, nurturing, and building up a spiritual body through the following spiritual nutrition and fitness activities which are like spiritual food groups:

  • Church. Being part of a Christ-centered community is important to your growth as a Christian. Christ-centered communities are usually found in Churches, although they can take other forms.
  • Bible Study. Scriptures offer a buffet of readings that are like spiritual foods. When the Bible enters your mind, it is digested by the mind and heart to pull out the spiritual nutrients and use them to build up your spiritual body. More about Bible study is below.
  • Fasting. The practice of fasting is an intentional method of purification and strengthening willpower and self-control. Fasting can take the form of abstaining from food, beverages, consumerism, or certain activities. Layered fasting is the practice of establishing a foundation of fasting, and introducing patterns of fasting. For example, you’ll stop watching television for a year. Once a week every month you will stop eating sweets. One day a week you will fast from food. This creates layers of fasting on top of fasting.
  • Fellowship. Socializing with others who demonstrate maturity in Christ-likeness will help reinforce your own faith.
  • Meditation. Meditation is introduced to us in Genesis, the very first book of the Bible, as we read about Isaac “going out to the field one evening to meditate.” [Genesis 24:62-64 NIV] Common and regular practices like fasting, prayer, and meditation aren’t mentioned much in the Bible because they are presumed. This is why meditation is only referenced about 25 times in the Bible. Most references to common practices will begin with a statement like, “When you pray…” or “When you fast….” The presumption is that everyone is praying and fasting.
  • Praise Music and Singing. Melodious and rhythmic music and singing engages the entire physical body and stimulates the entire body to become mindful of praising and thanking God. [Examples] Praise music is often prayers set to music and sung collectively (video examples are below). There are four general aspects of praise and worship music:
    • Prayers (Requests) Sung. Praise music can be prayers that are sung.
    • Proclamations Sung. Praise music can be songs proclaiming or describing a particular facet of Biblical truth or promise, and in so doing, it inspires those present to proclaim and hear the message.
    • Worship Sung. Worship music strictly defined is when the worshipper is making a proclamation about devotion to God or the greatness and kindness of God.
    • Personal Praise and Worship. Praise music can be songs sung by an individual in first person (“IMy…”) that are personally directed to God or simply proclaiming something. Such songs can be sung alone or with a group.
    • Group Praise and Worship. Praise music can be sung as a group in the third person (“WeOur…”) to collectively proclaim something or sing a prayer of thanks or adoration to God.
  • Prayer. Praying regularly for your needs, others’ needs, places, issues/causes, and all that you are thankful for will strengthen your faith. Proactive and holistic prayers (like preventative medicine) will be forward looking and all encompassing, such as praying for every area of a person’s life rather than just a specific perceived need. Prayers of worship are a type of prayer where a person bows, kneels, or lays down before God in worship, adoration, and submission. These prayers can be without words, but instead focused on intentions.

* * *

Bible Study Method. Study of the Bible is an important way to allow God to speak into your life. The reading of scripture is the act of ‘spiritual eating’ where the words themselves are food for your spirit and soul. This gives your spirit and soul strength and helps you grow. The subsequent opportunities and challenges you have to apply what you’ve read will strengthen your spiritual muscles. Allow what you read to have a positive impact on your thoughts and actions. The plan below identifies seven sections of the Bible which are to be studied daily. Progressively read one chapter from each section every day. Once you have read all the way through a particular section, you can start over again. As you read, you may find that the various readings from separate sections of the Bible actually work together synergistically to make a point. You may also find opportunities in your life to understand and apply these teachings in greater measure. Look for these opportunities.

  • Genesis – Job
  • Psalms
  • Proverbs
  • Ecclesiastes – Malachi
  • Matthew – John
  • Acts – 2 Thessalonians
  • 1 Timothy – Revelation

Using this plan, you will read a Psalm, Proverb, and Gospel scripture every day. These three sections are the smallest and therefore will be the most repetitive, giving them the most emphasis. For example, with 31 Proverbs, you will read each chapter about 12 times per year. As you continue to read from different books in the Bible, you will begin to see the continuity of the Bible.

As prompted by the Holy Spirit, pray in agreement with what you are reading in the Bible before, during, and/or after your reading. This is very helpful and important. For example, in reading the following scripture: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” [Galatians 5:22-23a NIV] an accompanying prayer might be “God, please help me to grow and mature in my own character so I increasingly exhibit the fruit of the Spirit to those around me.”

* * *

The Power of Praise. In the same way that there are super-foods in the human diet, there are superfoods in the Christian diet. Praise and Worship music is a spiritualsuperfood (or complete food) because it contains all the various faith nutrients from each of the spiritual food groups mentioned above: community (church), scripture, fasting, fellowship, meditation, singing, and prayer. Below are hybrid examples of praise and worship music with a message directed from the worshipper to God, as well as elements of proclamation.

Below is an example of group prayer and proclamation.

Below is an example of personal prayer and proclamation.

Salvation. The Apostle Paul is the person most credited with transforming the teachings and life of Jesus (Judaism) into a religion about instantaneous and eternal salvation through faith in Jesus. The simplicity of the message and powerful nature of its application (as evidenced in numerous peer reviewed case studies), has made contemporary Christianity accessible, effective, practical, and popular. The basic message of popular contemporary Christianity is beautifully conveyed in the poem found in this two-minute video.

Resources. Below are additional resources to help you grow in your understanding and practice of Christianity.

%d bloggers like this: