Fundamental Christianity

Odds are good that the essence of Christianity is something other than what you think it is, whether you’re a Christian or not.  For many, doctrines of salvation are the essential issue in Christianity.  For others, a comprehensive study of theology or scripture is the key to being a Christian.  For some, following the rules and regulations of their church is of the utmost importance.  But none of those, as important as they are (and I certainly do not intend to suggest that they are of no importance) are the true heart of the Christian way of living.

 

The true heart of the Christian way of life is following in the pattern of Christ’s life, adhering to the spirit of his teachings.  If, like I have, you’ve read through the Gospels a fair number of times, you’ll be familiar with what I’m talking about here.  Christ’s example to us is one of intense and comfortable relationship with God, of love, generosity, healing, and teaching.  Christ does not spend nearly as much time dealing with issues of doctrine, theology, scripture, or specific rules of conduct as he does with addressing the physical, psychological, and spiritual needs of God’s people.  Christ’s primary focus is on God and caring for the people of God.  Is our focus consistently the same?

 

I dare say not.  I’ve met a lot of people in many different Christian churches, and most seem to fall in the groups that are primarily concerned with doctrines of salvation, theology, scripture, or the proper rules of conduct as set out by their church.  It is our inappropriate focus on things other than imitating the way of Christ that has lead to the rampant splits and divergences in the people of God.  How many historical schisms between sects of Christianity were due to conflicts over doctrine, or theology, or scripture, or the regulations for worship services and social conduct?  I hesitate to even start a list, as it would run many, many pages.  How many were due to genuine and respectful disagreements over how Christ would approach a particular situation?  None that I’m aware of.  My suspicion is that this is because when we are truly focused on imitating Christ, it is hard for us to fight so bitterly over an issue that is probably not worth dividing the people of God over.

 

The person who really showed me how to live as a Christian, and continues to show me, is my grandfather.  He always acts in a loving manner, is generous to his neighbor, and teaches his community from scripture with a humble spirit and a prayerful approach.  He lives out the essence of Christianity, and while it is clear that sound doctrine and scripture and rules of conduct are important to him, it is even more starkly apparent that his heart is always and above all on serving God and God’s people.

 

I propose that he, in the way he lives, expresses the most fundamental and orthodox of Christian beliefs, that we are called to imitate our Lord Jesus Christ in all moments and all places.  I hope that someday I and all Christians can have that fundamental approach to living that makes our own lives and that of others be happier, healthier, and more whole as God desires for us.

 

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7 Responses to Fundamental Christianity

  1. Thank you for this post. I’ve pondered for a while whether I’m a Christian or not because of my doubts in theology, some of the doctrine of Christianity. But you made me realize that such doubts don’t matter, only Christ does. So thank you for that.

  2. Nous_Apeiron says:

    @Christian_and_Proud – You are very welcome.  Glad I could help. :)I hope your journey with Christ is as wonderful and interesting as mine has been.

  3. Your general point about getting unbalanced with respect to theology is well taken.  It’s easy to say that theology doesn’t matter, which is also unbalanced.  But your point seems to be that Christ never taught theology, which I find ridiculous.  Although Christ may not have penned a reasoned essay, some of his teaching was very theological.What does it mean, “He opened their mind to understand the scripture?” (see Luke 24:25-27 & 24:44-5) Please elucidate the theme based on this thumbnail reference in Luke 24.

  4. Nous_Apeiron says:

    @soccerdadforlife – Apparently, what my point seems to be to you and what it actually is are quite different.You are very correct in saying that some of Christ’s teaching was very theological.  You may notice that I rarely use absolutes like “never”.  It’s intentional. 🙂

  5. @Nous_Apeiron – Have you been dealing with schism lately?

  6. Nous_Apeiron says:

    @soccerdadforlife – It’s been on my mind because of my family.  My relatives are members of such a wide variety of Christian sects, and our faith has often been a source of division when it should be bringing us together.Do you also have family members that belong to many churches with different names on the doors, or does a majority of your family have one church affiliation?

  7. @Nous_Apeiron – Well, one brother, his wife, and his kids are baptist, sister’s a lapsed Catholic, other brother–who knows (we’ve lost touch), uncles and cousins–varieties of Christian, except one who says he’s a buddhist. Wife and daughters are in agreement with my teaching, generally.  We haven’t had any serious discussions about beliefs, so no denominational squabbles.

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