Christians are just good people, right?

Christianity is just a way to make people good, right? So as long as you are a religion, and you are being good, it doesn’t matter which religion you are.

That’s what a dear friend of mine had to say the other day. What do you think?

My first thought was that it does matter which religion you are, and Christianity is much more than making someone good. But I decided that rather than spout the first thing that came to mind, I would mull over what God’s answer to that would be – what He has said through the Bible.

Jesus refutes the idea of any religion getting you to heaven pretty adamantly in John 14:6

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father (i.e. gets into heaven) except through me.

But this whole idea that Christianity is just to make people good got me thinking.

Jesus says that only God is good, in Matthew 19:17. Well, there is no way I am going to be able to be that, then!

But here is some hope from Paul’s letter to the Galatians (3:27):

And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on Christ, like putting on new clothes.

I actually ran into numerous places in the Bible where we are encouraged to put on the righteousness of God through Jesus. Have a look for yourselves. I was surprised at the number of times this concept comes up.

So, it seems, on our own, we definitely cannot be good. But with the Holy Spirit in us, given to us when we decide to become a Christian, we can be all sorts of Godly things like loving, peaceful, patient, kind, joyful, gentle, self-controlled, and good.

Notice that to be good, we must be in a relationship, first with Jesus, who then gives us the  Holy Spirit, so that we can finally confidently come before God.

So I guess being good is an important outgrowth of being a Christian, but a relationship with God is “where it’s at.”

The benefits of being good, are many, though sometimes being good can cause suffering. And I am thankful for God’s mercy when I fail at it yet again. So while being good is, well, good, it is not my favorite part of Christianity.

My favorite part of Christianity is that there is a purpose to my life, even on the days when life feels mundane.

What is your favorite part?

 

How do you know if you are a boy or girl?

“How does someone know if they are a boy or a girl” asked my tween daughter.

Hmmm, that is an excellent question. As a friend my age said, “When we were kids we just needed to look down!” But I knew that answer wouldn’t do for a modern American kid.

So here’s what I told my daughter:

I believe that each of us are fearfully and wonderfully made by God to be exactly who He wants us to be. Psalm 139:13-18 says:

13 For you formed my inward parts;
    you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.[a]
Wonderful are your works;
    my soul knows it very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
    intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
    the days that were formed for me,
    when as yet there was none of them.

17 How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!
    How vast is the sum of them!
18 If I would count them, they are more than the sand.
    I awake, and I am still with you.

There are a few people born with both male and female body parts, so they have a unique path, but generally, if you are born with female body parts, God has created you to be a girl, and vice versa.

I remember as a child being curious about what it would be like to be a boy. I also remember pretending to be Tarzan, because being Jane sounded really boring. At times I have questioned whether I am really supposed to be a girl, because I used to always get along better with boys, and never seemed “girly” enough – hating small talk, not caring much about fashion or shopping, not being clued into all of the unspoken rules of conversation. But I have since learned that the social things that I thought made me less girly are actually just Autism. And when it comes to the core difference between boys and girls, I am definitely a girl. Thank goodness, too, because I do really enjoy getting dolled up every now and then!

God loves us and knows what is best for us, so in the end, I believe that we will be most at peace if we go along with who He designed us to be. Remember, we can’t see everything He can, even though sometimes it feels like we can see more!

“If you obey me and let me help you, you will have plenty.”  Isaiah 1:19

Next week I’ll talk more about what I have learned to be the core difference between boys and girls (PS, God mentions it in the Bible – what do you think it is?).

 

Scared of Heaven

Yesterday, on the way home from church, my twelve-year-old daughter told me that she is sort of freaked out about going to heaven. Over the years I have had various concerns about what heaven might be like, myself, so I wasn’t surprised by the comment. “What freaks you out about it?”

She mentioned some stuff – I don’t remember exactly what, but the bottom line was her statement: “We won’t be able to do whatever we want.”

Hmmm, well, yes, and no. We won’t be able to do whatever we want, if we are thinking in terms of our human wants here on earth. But when we are in heaven, we will only want to do what God wants, so, in the end, we will be doing whatever we want.

This then gets to the heart of why we are here on earth. We are here to decide whether or not we want what God wants. God loves us all, and wants us all to go to heaven. But he isn’t going to make us do anything that we don’t want. So, if we decide, here on earth, that we do want to do what he wants, we are deciding that we do want to spend eternity in heaven. If we decide here on earth that we don’t want what he wants, it will make him sad, but he will honor our wishes, and not make us go to heaven. Instead, we will be free from doing what he wants for eternity, in hell.

Of course, even after we decide that we want what he wants, we slip up and go our own way sometimes, and even vice versa. That is why Jesus came to earth to die for those slip ups, also known as, sin. And that is also why God lets us decide all the way up until we have breathed our last breath, this side of eternity. It’s never to late to decide that you do want what he wants, as long as you trod this sod!

If we truly believe that God loves us and wants the best for us, we don’t need to worry about what heaven will be like – of course it is going to be great!!