A definition.

Christianity  [kris-chee-an-i-tee]              

  1. The Christian religion, including the Catholic, Protestant, and Eastern Orthodox churches.

  2. The state of being a Christian.

  3. The belief that a cosmic Jewish Zombie who was his own father can make you live forever if you symbolically eat his flesh and telepathically tell him you accept him as your master, so he can remove an evil force from your soul that is present in humanity because a rib-woman was convinced by a talking snake to eat from a magical tree...

I had to chuckle (and internally applaud) when I recently read this obviously non-Christian perspective of Christianity.  I laughed, not out of any kind of thinly-veiled sarcasm, but out of an acknowledgement of circumstance - that, to the non-believer, this is actually what Christianity is.  Every statement in that joke-definition is, more or less, what I as a Christian believe.  Alright, the Bible never used the Z-word, neither did it call the tree 'magical', and I'm pretty sure there was no mention of telepathy, not even in the parts where the Pharaoh's court magicians turned stuff into snakes (and I'd like to see any of the kids from Professor Charles Xavier's School For Gifted Youngsters do THAT....).  But, in a manner of speaking, the Bible asks us to believe all that and more, which is a lot for our scientifically-proven-fact-loving brains of the 21st century to take in.

I believe that the key to the entire Christian faith is 'belief'.  Having experienced the fortitude of being brought up in a Christian family and having these things told to me as 'facts' my whole life, I'm incredibly grateful that I don't find it particularly hard to believe in everything the Bible has to say, about everything.  And people can say 'well, you've obviously been brainwashed your whole life into believing this nonsense', but even if that were the case, it'd still be moot.  

I am a Christian, not because I've chosen to believe, but because God has chosen me to believe.

And still, living in a world where the things I believe are seen as fantasy and fiction, I'm daily reminded and constantly conscious of how bizarre and otherworldly the things I believe must seem to others.  Heck, when you read through the joke definition above and realise how that must sound to people who have no church background, you can see why we're generally the laughing stock of the modern age.  This is something I'm aware of every time I get a chance to share my faith.

(note: generally, unless God opens up an opportunity for me to talk about Him with people who actually want to hear, I tend to make a point of not bringing it up - I see this not as hiding my light under a bushel or keeping 'The Good News' to myself, but more like not shining the interrogation spotlight into my friends' eyes...let's remember, it's not our job as Christians to make anyone believe; an overly forceful attitude to evangelism is going to do a lot more harm than good...)

If I'm put into a situation whereby people ask me what I believe, why I live my life the way that I do, I try to explain things in the clearest, most jargon-free way possible.  In essence, I go into CBBC presenter mode, imagining that the people I'm talking to have never heard the Gospel before and then trying to explain what the Bible says in the simplest way possible.  Usually, I end up going on for way too long and getting into too much detail for a light-hearted conversation, but this comes with the territory;

Much like the show 'Lost', the Gospel is about EVERYTHING.  

It's not really something that can be explained in a 5-minute instructional video.  First you have to explain that you believe there's a God, then you have to explain that you believe who He is and what He does; if you're feeling lucky at this point you can tell them how He made the universe in a week and how He's everywhere, even though we can't see Him (but good luck with that one....).  Next you talk about sin.  Which is really more of a 4-hour 3am conversation.  Next you talk about life, death, Heaven and Hell.  If they're still with you at this point you can get onto Jesus and the coup-de-gras of the subject of grace, which is all you really want to talk about but it's essentially meaningless unless people know why they need it.

You can see our predicament as supposedly 'evangelical' Christians -100, even 50 years ago, everybody over the age of 15 would have already known most of this stuff.  Even if their parents weren't churchgoers, every kid would have probably been at Sunday School learning about this stuff on a weekly basis.  Nowadays, you'd be lucky to find one person in a Starbuck's who can name 5 books of the Bible.  

Fortunately, as I said before, the key to Christianity is belief.

I'm not a book reader, I wish that I were, especially as a Christian.  If you're not a Christian, lemme tell you something - Christians LOVE their books.  I actually think some of them are so in love with reading because they're secretly hoping to find something better than The Holy Bible.  I, on the other hand, am more likely to read something by Michael Chrichton, or in most cases, nothing at all.  In some ways, though, I'm glad that I don't read these books.  Whilst I certainly don't subscribe to the train of thought that true happiness comes from within, or that I can somehow 'fix myself', I do believe that I can learn more about my faith from looking at the world around me and listening to what God says to me through the world than I can by reading what some world renowned 19th century theologian thinks about the Acts of the Apostles (and in the words of Homer J Simpson, if he's so smart, how come he's dead??!)

Y'see......I believe that inside every human being is the knowledge of Good and Evil.  Remember?  From the rib-woman who ate the fruit from  that magical tree with the talking snake?  Now whether that was a literal or metaphorical fruit is moot, all I know is that the Bible said it and if the Bible is the word of God then He obviously wanted us to know it.  The point is, we all know.  There's something inside us, in the core of our very souls that says 'there is more to life than what we can see, touch, buy'.  I obviously only have my own conscience to go by, but from what I can see in the world, we're all born with a sense of right and wrong, we all 'think therefore we are', and none of us can explain it away.  It just so happens that, depending on what part of the world you live in, there are different explanations for this in-built sense of yearning, giving rise to the different religions of the world.  And the questions are always the same - what is the meaning of life?  Why are we here?  Where do we go when we die?

Another thing that made me laugh recently was the Atheist ad-campaign which plastered the sides of London buses with the slogan:

There's probably no God. 
Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.

Again, I laughed not out of flippant disregard for my fellow human beings or arrogant self-righteousness but out of circumstance. That this group of people would throw together these two clearly conflicting points in an attempt at a cheap shot against us 'religious idiots' really made me smile.  I sincerely hope that it was an ad-campaign born out of an uneasy subconscious knowledge of their own error, rather than an actual hypothesis on life.  You see, to me, from a logical point of view, the statement is nonsensical.

There's probably no God. - we can presume from this point of view that there's probably no afterlife either, and therefore no reason, rhyme or purpose to this one.

Enjoy your life. - wait.....why should I take any enjoyment from this life? If after this there is nothing, if I'm just going to slip into unconsciousness never to awaken, then surely this life and the enjoyment of it therein is pointless? 

I don't consider myself a deep thinker in any way, shape or form, but from a purely logical point of view I can detect a fundamental flaw in the arguments of their slogan.  And even if we emphasise the 'probably' in their dispute of the existence of a higher being, isn't that a pretty huge 'probably' to wager eternity on? (see Pascal's Gambit.....).  And so we can see that you can't really out-think anything when it comes to faith (which is essentially why they call it 'faith', not 'hope'....).  Everybody has the knowledge of good and evil inside them, it all comes down to whether or not they BELIEVE.

If Christianity were about definitions, or the Bible, or any of the stuff that it's perceived to be about, it probably wouldn't still be around today.  Let's say I start telling people I'm the son of God.  Let's even say people start to believe me.  Then let's say I spend my whole short life telling people how to live their lives and how to be happy and how to get into Heaven, and then I die.  People write a book about me chronicling everything I said.  Now 10, 50, 100, 1000, two thousand years down the line, is anybody going to still be learning about me and listening to the things I said?  Probably not.  So why does Christianity still exist?  Why hasn't it been forgotten about, or dismissed as a myth?  Surely all the crazy things Jesus said can now be laughed off and dismissed as falsehoods?  Surely there aren't enough gullible people to propagate this fictional story and keep it going and keep proclaiming it as fact?  

Well maybe people stopped talking about Jesus, stopped going to church, stopped reading the Bible, but they certainly didn't stop asking questions about God, because the questions were inside them from the very beginning.  I wholeheartedly believe that a man, Jesus Christ, walked on this earth somewhere in the middle-East around 2000 years ago.  Now whether you believe He existed or not, whether you believe He was the son of a God or not, you probably have the same soul-ingrained questions as everyone else.  But if you choose to believe that there is a God, then you need to decide whether you believe everything that He's said through the Bible, talking snakes, magic trees, zombies and all.


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