Christianity is practical
Above all else, Christianity is practical. It works. It is not some pipe dream, designed to dull the senses and help make life bearable. Rather, it is a real answer from a real God to the needs of real people – you and me.
Put simply, if my ‘Christianity’ isn’t producing clarity and conviction, along with joy and peace, there’s something wrong. Either I haven’t got the real thing, or maybe I’m not using it right!
The Gospel is an active faith in Jesus
As one, rather grubby, heckler once shouted at an open-air preacher: ‘Christianity has been around for hundreds of years and look at the state of the world.’ ‘Soap and water have been around just as long,’ replied the quick-witted speaker, ‘but just look at the state of your neck!’ He then went on to explain that the gospel is much more than simply giving mental assent to a few facts. It is an active faith in the Lord Jesus Christ – a faith that is proved by our actions.
And the Gospels reveal an intensely practical Jesus. In John 5 he heals a cripple – a man who had suffered for 38 years and had given up all hope of ever being well. Fantastic! Well it would have been except that it happened on the Sabbath. For, if there was one thing the Jews knew they had got right, it was the Sabbath. In fact, they had got it so right they were wrong!
If the law allows a child to be circumcised on the Sabbath, Jesus reasoned, then surely it is permissible to heal the whole man. But that line of thinking really didn’t go down well, and it wasn’t long before they were talking of killing him.
Avoid the pitfall of religious niceties
And we, too, must avoid the pit fall of arguing over our own particular religious niceties while missing the heart of the gospel. We may structure and scheme until the cows come home, but God is looking for people who will get on with the job of relationship.
It may seem astonishing to some, but the Bible nowhere defines exactly how a church should be structured. And where we do catch a glimpse, it is always so general that we can fit it into our own interpretation. Did this glaring omission somehow manage to slip past our heavenly Father, or is it just possible that the Lord knew what he was doing? The same can be said about individual Christians. Nowhere do we read a blow-by-blow account of the ideal believer, all we get are wide statements like ‘Be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect’ Matt 5:48.
And why is this? Because the Bible is all about relationships – rules and regulations have never yet created a happy home; only love, hard work and perseverance can do that.
So, let’s put the structure of our churches and the style of our worship in their place – a very poor second place behind the ‘why’ of the gospel: ‘For God so loved the world…’
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