Jeremiah 17:7-8 Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.
A Bunch of “Do’s and Don’ts?
To the ‘unchurched’ or non-Christian, Christianity could understandably be seen as following a checklist or a bunch of “do’s and don’ts”; adhering to a list that will enable us to have a sense of purpose and significance. The irony is Christianity isn’t primarily about following a list, or being given a sense of significance and purpose in our lives, but it’s about becoming less significant and putting our focus on Christ.
Don’t get me wrong here. We are precious to God. He loves us and dearly wants us to know Him through trusting in Jesus’ death for our sins and being born again a spiritual child of His. However one key ingredient to maturing as a Christian, let alone becoming a Christian, is to have a healthy understanding and view of God and ourselves. As we read through the Bible and learn about God and what He stands for we realise that we are all sinful, in rebellion to God. We all deserve death. We all deserve eternal separation from God. God would be just if He saved no one from eternal destruction in hell. Sounds judgmental and harsh? – Have a read of 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12, Ephesians 5:6 and Romans 1 and 3 to get a healthy perspective of our position before God and what the just consequences are. Despite what many Christians refuse to voice or even teach, the Bible teaches that God condemns all people… apart from the saving grace of Christ. That is an extremely confronting reality, but it is critical to appreciate that so that we accept the mercy and grace of God with the right attitude and heart.
The Route of Our Problem is Pride
Understanding ourselves before God is critical, but even more critical is our understanding of God, or in other words, Theology. Many Christians see theology and biblical doctrine/teachings as something for those who are more ‘serious’ in their faith, those who are leaders in the church. “Just tell me what I need to do” “Tell me what’s in it for me in being a Christian”. Common attitudes like these, held by many Christians, subtly hide the root of our problem to start with – pride. It’s not about us, it’s about Christ! It’s not about what I need to do to be right with God, it’s about what Christ has DONE for us to be saved and presented as righteous before God. It’s not about what ‘I will get’, but what God has sacrificed; what God has given up so that we can have a restored relationship with Him.
Theology – Critical for Every Christian
Although application of our faith is critical, and indeed by definition required, Christianity is firstly about knowing who God is and how He thinks and how He works. It’s about building a relationship with Him. We can’t mature in our relationship with God if we don’t learn about Him. We won’t understand it all, but that doesn’t mean we don’t stop trying. Theology is critical for EVERY Christian to embrace if we are sincere in our commitment to Christ. As we learn more about God we are drawn to worship Him and appreciate our need for His grace more. This keeps us humble and teachable which allows the Holy Spirit to produce the fruit or good works that the Bible advocates. However the fruit that is produced in our lives is a result of the transformation within, the new heart that God gives to those who accept the work that Christ did for us on the cross, dieing for our sins. It is not based on our legalistic efforts to work our way into God’s ‘good books’ but accepting our need for God to work in our lives to see change. We will also begin to realise the boundaries that God places in our lives through the Bible are a means to experiencing His blessings, not a ball and chain “keeping us from life’s pleasures”.
So let’s stop focusing on ourselves, our efforts and what we will receive. Let’s focus on Christ. Let’s focus on learning about God. As we do we will learn much more about ourselves and through the help of the Holy Spirit produce the fruit that only comes from roots that are deep into God’s Word and a committed relationship with Him.