Monday, June 16, 2003

...made it to the 15th. Sunday. The Sabbath day. That would be a good excuse not to have done it, but I'm done with excuses.

Today should make up for it. Back to Day One, with a vengeance.

It can be said that I am a Christian. When I say that, however, some very bizarre ideas come to some people's minds; notions about Christianity that are amazingly untrue. Today, I offer a basic explanation of what it means to be a follower of Jesus. Read on... you may be surprised.

In the beginning, God created Heaven and Earth... okay. That's the easy part. As God created the world, it was good. He made people, and gave them the option to screw up. We screwed up. Shocker. Whether or not you think the stories of the book of Genesis are metaphorical or not, the important point is the same: sin entered the world. Sin is an important concept to understand. It is not, as many Catholic-raised stand-up comics have joked, merely the idea that we should abstain from doing anything fun. Sin is, essentially, separation from God brought on by not doing what He says we should do.

A quick aside. Some wonder why it's such a big deal that we do what God tells us to do. Here's why: the rules God sets for how we should live our lives are not arbitrary, not random. They are operating instructions for human beings. My good friend Brett explains it beautifully, saying that there are two important things to remember about God. First, He knows everything. We're talking about the designer of the entire universe. The author of you. Second, He loves His creation. He wants what's best for what He has made. Those two facts mean that God is much more qualified to run my life than I am. Something to think about.

Back to sin. There is a whole lot of sin in the world. This is because it is part of human nature. In other words, human beings are innately imperfect, or become imperfect quickly as we are exposed to the world. Whatever the cause, one thing is clear: we need help. On our own, we only dig ourselves deeper.

Help came in the form of Jesus of Nazareth, who you know as Jesus Christ. "Christ" was not his last name. The word is the Greek translation of the Hebrew word messiah, meaning "anointed one." The messiah was a figure in ancient Jewish prophecy, said to be the very son of God. Christianity holds that Jesus was in fact the Son of God... more specifically, that He was an incarnation of God, but also fully human. History shows that Jesus of Nazareth lived and taught in and around first century Jerusalem, and was killed by crucifixion at the hands of local Roman officials and Jewish leaders.

Christianity teaches that on the third day after Jesus' death, He came back to life. This is amazingly important. You see, Jesus came to Earth with a specific purpose in mind. Sin had created a rift between man and God that man could not possibly cross by his own power. Ironic, the word cross, since that's what it took to bridge the gap. You see, with sin comes a penalty. This is where the fire-and-brimstone preachers get their ammo. You know the type: "Repent, or burn forever in the deepest stinky pit of Hell where it burns and it sucks to be you!"

Jesus, through his death, took on Himself all of the punishment due for everything wrong the entire human race has ever done, and will ever do. He did this out of mercy and love. His sacrifice has cosmic implications... some of which I hope to summarize next time.

This is a quick-and-dirty explanation, if you haven't noticed. If you are left with burning questions, or merely flickering ones, e-mail me by clicking "contact" above, or post in the guestbook. More soon.

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