I recently received an add for Bible Study material entitled "How Do You Explain Christianity?" Immediately I thought "I don't want to, have to, or know how to explain Christianity. Christianity, in the broad term, has been very fluid through the ages, and especially in today's culture. Even this last month there was a conference that tried to define Christianity by attacking another denomination of Christianity, which I find completely shameful. To try to explain Christianity in light of all its history, both good and bad, would take more than a 10 week Bible study. It would take more like a 2 year intensive study.
The answer to that question is simple. I don't explain Christianity! I explain Christ. There is a vast difference between deciding if you want to be part of the movement labeled "Christianity" or if you want to be part of Christ Himself. If I had based my decision to marry my husband on knowing about his entire family, I wouldn't have married him. Honestly, I love his family now because I know and understand them (31 years of marriage will do that), but had I taken into account that upon meeting me his brother would punch me in the stomach, had I known that one of his aunts would constantly write me letters begging me to stop cutting my hair and wearing jeans because it would send me to hell, or that his grandparents would show up on our doorstep just 13 hours after we were married to have my husband collect horse poop to put on their cucumbers when I had lived not 5 minutes from them for 6 months, or a myriad of other strange happenings that have occurred through the years, I might have reconsidered--and oh what I would have missed! You all know how hopelessly in love with my husband I am! He is my morning, noon and night as far as people are concerned. His is kind, loving, compassionate, dedicated, faithful, dependable, funny, considerate....well you get the picture...not to mention how extraordinarily handsome he is! (Hey, if you think the man you are going to marry is ugly, please don't marry him. He isn't going to improve.) I didn't marry my husband because of who his family was but because of who HE is. I just learned to love and get along with his family as time passed. (It really wasn't all that hard. His family is great barring a few oddballs but hey, you have that in any family! In fact, in my family, I probably AM the oddball! LOL!) I always tell people "he's not perfect, but he's perfect for me!"
When people asked me why I wanted to marry my husband, I could go on and on and on about all his wonderful qualities because I knew Him so well and I loved what I knew. So when people ask me why I do or don't do things, why I think the way I think, why I don't react the way most people react to things, why I go to church, or why I am a Christian, I don't even say the word "Christianity". I simply tell them about the man Jesus Christ who I met 30 years ago and who captured my heart because He is so extraordinary. I can go on and on about Him any time, any day. He is my morning, noon and night as far as ANYTHING is concerned. He outshines it ALL! Explaining his family, with all their quirks and differences and sometimes shameful behavior...well I can't explain it, but through time I have come to love His family just the same because I love Him and I love what He loves because Christ is perfect in EVERY way and He's perfect for every person!
So...alas...another advertisement that I won't be biting at.
Today I emerged from my cloffice for awhile to observe what the customer service department really does for our company. It is a employee owned company. Each person who works there also owns some stock as well. (That explains why there were so many people at the meeting to announce what the new stock price was-up 30% from last year.) Some might think that answering the phone and taking orders would be a simple job, but not where I work. The products we manufacture and sell are not easily understood unless you are a scientist or a chemist. As I listened to customer service people on the phones I noticed a few things:
1. They know all about the products. They are well versed in what we offer and how it works.
2. They know all the procedures that make our company one of the top in the state.
3. They are always ready to answer questions or concerns and know exactly where and how to access pertinent information at a moment's notice.
4. They work well together sharpening each other's skills and keeping each other accountable.
Since coming to work there and being exposed to the best the world has to offer, I have become increasingly burdened for the lost. And I thought to myself, what if I, as a Christian would apply what I've observed in my office to my own life? Would it make me more successful for the Kingdom of God?
1. Know the product--Jesus Christ, crucified and resurrected. A superficial head knowledge will not do. I must have a deep, effectual, relational, ongoing knowledge and experience with God . How can I rightly explain in a convincing manner something I have not experienced and expect people to buy it? How can i explain the wonders and beauty of someone that I only know as an acquaintance? I must know the WHOLE Jesus, the WHOLE gospel.
2. Know the procedures that make the gospel work. What good does it do to tell someone half of something and expect them to make good decisions based on half-truth? Yet, we do this in Christianity all the time, leaning one way or the other in what we emphasize pertaining to Christ. If we lean one way too far we end up with greasy grace and sloppy agape which tragically ends in people thinking they are saved when they're not. If we go hard the other direction we end up in legalistic religion that may alter behavior but not the soul.
3. Be well equipped to handle anything that someone throws at you. In order to do this we must invest our time and attention to the instruction manual. We must know the Word of God. We must accurately interpret what it says. We must be able to refer to it in a moment's notice and know where to find what we're looking for. We must know that it and only it is the truth and refuse to bend or compromise. Otherwise, it won't work in the life of another.
4. Don't be a Lone Ranger. Even he had Tonto! We must remember that we are part of a whole and that whole rightly fitted together creates the living force that brings the Kingdom of God to earth. Listen to one another. Heed your brothers and sisters in Christ, especially those more mature or in leadership over you. Let iron sharpen iron, encouraging and being encouraged, spurring each other on in the good works God has already prepared for us to do.
As you can see, I'm learning a lot at work! :-)