James 1:1 – James, a bondservant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad: Greetings. (NKJV)
I am often asked why Christianity seems so complex and hard to understand. The answer is: It’s not.
We have made it difficult to understand because of all of our divisions, pet doctrines, and traditions. This results in endless disputes and arguments over beliefs, church practices, and what the true Christian life looks like. It is unfortunate because God never meant for Christianity to turn into a “religion” to be disputed and argued about amongst us. The basic Christian life viewed on a day-to-day practical living standpoint, is not difficult or complex at all.
It involves finding out what God has to say, changing our life to fit what we have learned, communicating with God, and displaying love and sacrifice in all things. We get so caught up in trying to “find God’s perfect will” in arguing about our pet doctrinal issues that we lose sight of the fact that Christianity is a day-to-day relationship and a heart attitude, which is neither complex nor a secret.
In thinking about how to write about this issue, it quickly occurred to me the most effective and pure way is to simply go to Scripture and focus on the plain and practical teaching which is very clearly expressed for us. In the book of James, there is a concentration of this type of teaching. James walks through several issues in many topics that have to do with our day-to-day Christian attitude and how we are to conduct ourselves. If you take these practical points and add to it what I listed above (read the Bible, talk to God, love, sacrifice), then you have what amounts to a “Dummies Guide to the Christian Life”. Given the fact that I’m quite the dummy, this is a great way for me to learn about and understand our walk of faith.
For the rest of you dummies out there, I hope you’ll find this series of lessons just as practical and useful. Here’s what we’ll cover in this series:
- God’s View of Wealth And Status
- How to Love God When Life Sucks
- What You Need When Times Are Tough
- A Question of Divorce
- Using Your Ears and Your Hands
- The Danger of Favoritism
- How to Have a Dead Faith
- That Little Thing That Controls Your Entire Life
- Two Types of Wisdom
- The Cause of Strife
- How to Cure Your Worldliness
- The One Person You Should Not Judge
- Today Not Tomorrow
- Special Instructions for the Wealthy
- How to Be Patient and Overcome
- Taking Care of Each Other
- Rescuing The Wayward
- The Basics of the Basics: Bible, Prayer, Love, Sacrifice
Of course there are many basic topics not included in this list, such as marriage, parenting, business, etc., but the principles that we will cover in this series pertain to just about every circumstance and aspect of the daily Christian life… and general principles can be applied to specific situations.
What we will see is that the Christian walk is not about how you act and what you do on Sunday, but rather it is about your mindset, your attitude and your perspective every moment of every day. As I have said and taught countless times: When we get the heart right, the life will follow. Get the internals right, and the externals will take care of themselves. Correct about the inside, and the outside falls into line.
Endless disputes over points of liberty and tradition replace a focus on the basics of Christian living. The only reason Christianity is confusing and seems complex is because, in many ways, we have turned it into a religion instead of a relationship and a daily lifestyle. As Christ followers, our day-to-day Christian life is actually very simple. The Christian life is not a checklist of regulations, nor is it adhering to some particular church or religious tradition. It is a relationship with Jesus Christ, an attitude of submission to God’s will. and placing the priorities of our heart in line with God’s priorities.
I hope you’ll join me for the next two or three weeks as we use God’s word to clarify and simplify one of the most basic questions we have as believers: What are some of the practical day-to-day basics of living the Christian life?