A dear friend, smarter by far than me, made a comment recently that my “Theological Thursday” posts are over her head. She helped me remember that not everyone in the whole wide world grew up speaking “churcheeze,” as I did.
I truly love debating the minutia of scripture. It’s like trying to solve a puzzle. It’s exercise for the brain! And I will, no doubt, pontificate on the proper translation of the original Greek of some obscure verse in the future. I may do a whole blog post on exactly what I think about the term, “In the beginning,” just because it’s fun for me.
I’m a nerd.
I admit it.
But, today, I’m just going to sum it up. The basics of what Christians believe.
There are a lot of points that Christians debate, but we all pretty much agree on the central stuff. Don’t get all hung up on “literally” or “metaphorically.” That’s for another day. Just go with the central ideas.
Here we go.
In the beginning, there was the Heavens and the Earth. The Earth was formless and the Spirit of God hovered over it. (I didn’t make that up. That’s actually how the Bible starts).
God created everything and then created a man and a woman and breathed into them the very spirit of God. He made everything (including the man and woman) able to reproduce.
He (or She, if you prefer) put them in a beautiful garden on Earth, full of every good thing that they could ever need and told them, “It’s all here for your use. Take care of the animals. Eat the fruit. All of the fruit. Anything you want. As much as you want. Except for the fruit on this ONE TREE.” God and humans were in perfect communion with one another. Life was good.
Of course, they immediately ate the forbidden fruit.
This created a rift between the people and God.
It created death and caused there to be great difficulties in life.
All humans, descended from those who were first created (and first disobeyed God), inherited their ancestor’s tendency to do what they ought not do (that’s what “sin” is). The population continued to increase. People continued to sin in terrible ways.
A system was created. Death was the consequence of sin, so if (when) a person sinned, something (a dove, a calf, etc) had to die to pay for that sin, in order that the balance be restored.
Lots of stuff happened in the history of the world.
God stepped in and said to Moses, “Spell it out for the people. Tell them that they really need to follow these 10 rules:
1. You should not have any other Gods before me.
2. You should not make idols.
3. You should not misuse the name of God.
4. You should take one day a week to rest and commune with God.
5. People should show honor to their parents.
6. Don’t murder.
7. Don’t commit adultery.
8. Don’t steal.
9. Don’t lie.
10. Don’t covet what other people have.”
I paraphrased, but that was the general idea.
People, being people, turned this into thousands of rules about not making your bed on Saturday and not drawing pictures, as they may be considered idols.
No one could possibly keep it all straight.
People kept sinning.
Sacrifices had to be made over and over again.
A priesthood was established in order to try to set things right between man and God.
More stuff happened in the history of the world.
God said to Himself, “I really really love these people, darn it! I created each and every one of them, special, and I want to have a good relationship with them. I’m going to fix this mess, once and for all.”
So He sent his son, Jesus.
Jesus was born to Mary, who was a virgin at the time of his conception. I don’t know how that worked. The Bible doesn’t give us the logistics. That’s all we are told. In this way he was the offspring of a human (a sinful creature, separated from the Creator) and God (the Creator). He was 100% both.
Jesus lived a perfectly sinless life.
He was tempted. He loved. He got angry. He went to parties. He got hungry. He ate. He did miracles. He cried.
He never sinned. Not even once.
And then he died. Well, he was killed actually; executed on a cross by men who feared him.
The death of this one perfect man/God was such a huge sacrifice that no further sacrifice was ever needed again. Not ever. No matter what.
And then he came back to life!
Because if sin = death and sin had been conquered, then death had been conquered as well.
Jesus said that the very most important thing was this: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your mind and all your strength and love your neighbor as yourself. If you do that, all of the commandments will be fulfilled.”
He said, “Whoever wants to be my disciple (student/follower) should pick up their cross and follow me.”
He said, “Whoever believes in me will not die, but have eternal life.”
And so (in theory), Christians try their best to live as Jesus lived – showing love in every moment. We deal with what life throws at us (pick up our cross), knowing that it is all temporary and that we will live forever in perfect communion with God because Jesus restored that which was broken.
We are still human. We still mess up. We fall short. We sin. And then we ask for forgiveness and we move on. The sacrifice has already been made. We don’t need to be stuck in our mistakes.
There are details… stuff about baptism and communion and all that. I don’t want to say it isn’t important, because it is, but it is details. The most important thing is that Jesus fixed what was broken because he (God) loved us (YOU!) so much.
There are people who call themselves “Christian” who make no attempt to be like Christ (Jesus). I’ve heard it said that, “Being in a church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than being in a garage makes you a car.” If you’ve met someone who says they are Christian, but they have no love…. well…. just don’t judge us all by that person.
Biblical Christianity is all about love. God created the world and everything in it in love. God sent Jesus out of love. God tells us to love one another. In love, there is life. Life is (was meant to be) a gift of love.
So there it is.
Christianity summed up.
Now go out into the world and love and be loved and KNOW that you are loved and this Hippie Mama will see you tomorrow.