Monday, August 15, 2005

keep it simple

Keep it simple.

At the heart of the Christian life are a few experiences, a few practices, a few texts, a few people, a few convictions.

As Christians we surrender to God; we forgive others; we confess our sins; we take delight and joy in the gift of life; we offer praise to the Lord. We laugh and we cry. Experiences are important. They are the doorway into the Christian life.

As Christians we are baptized, we receive communion, we sing, we serve, we teach, we preach, we share fellowship, we bear witness, we tell the truth. We worship together and we pray alone. Practices are important. They are the path along the Christian life.

As Christians we read scripture, but also Christian classics that nourish our souls and feed our minds. We begin with the gospels and the psalms. Then perhaps we move into the letters of Paul and the prophets. We look at the beginnings (the Torah) and the endings (Revelation). But we can also turn to those who kept the living tradition alive: Augustine, St. Teresa of Avila, John Wesley, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, C.S. Lewis, Thomas Merton, Henri Nouwen. Texts are important. They are the maps that guide us in the Christian life.

As Christians we live with people; people who love us, people who challenge us, people who correct us, people who encourage us, people who forgive us and people who need our gifts. We are placed in families and churches in order that we might learn to live as Christians in practical ways. People are important. They are the companions with whom we share the Christian life.

As Christians we live with a few essential convictions: God has created all that exists. Jesus Christ is Lord and Savior. The Holy Spirit is the comforting presence of God in our lives. The Bible is unlike any other book, a lamp to our feet, a light to our path. The church is the body of Christ, a human organization and yet also a divine fellowship. The mission of God is for all people, and the message of God is to be proclaimed to the ends of the earth. To whom much is given, much is
expected. We envision a new heaven and a new earth, where hunger and suffering and death will be no more. Convictions are important. They are the boundaries that frame the Christian life.

If being a Christian has gotten complicated, I invite you to keep it simple. As a simple spiritual exercise, take out pencil, and list the experiences, the practices, the texts, the people, the convictions. You will discover something about yourself: what you are feeling, what you are doing, what you are learning, who is important to you, and what you believe.

3 Comments:

Blogger Chris said...

Astoundingly beautiful.

4:08 PM  
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2:56 AM  
Blogger JP Manzi said...

I agree with Chris (oh, and thanks spammer michel for wasting space) This was an enjoyable read nicely defining what a christian is. Simple, but needed, thanks.

3:17 PM  

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