Friday, February 25, 2011

Beyond the Flatlands of Religiosity

What is a Christian?

Reading Scot McKnight’s One.Life at the moment and loving it. In Scot’s introduction he tracked a bit of his journey and his understanding of what it means to be a Christian and how that has evolved over the years. His story almost completely parallels mine (and likely many others).

Having grown up in a Christian home Scot got saved at the age of six, I was four but our story is essentially the same. At the conclusion of an evening service at church an opportunity was given to get saved, to accept Jesus into your heart so you could be forgiven of your sins. God so loved me that he sent his Son to give his life for me. Forgiveness was available if I accepted Jesus into my heart. I did this and became a Christian. Thus...

Definition One = A Christian was someone who has personally accepted Jesus Christ, who has found forgiveness through his death, and who is now on their way to heaven when they die.

From the age of 10 through until about 17 or 18 (both Scot and I) were very involved in our local church Children’s Church and Youth Group, (and loved every minute of it, I ended up staying in Youth till I was about 26 as a Youth Leader and Youth Pastor). Here I learnt all about bible reading (morning and night / Bible in a Year), memory verses, praying (even if only for 5 minutes and then stretching it to 6 minutes and then 10, 15, 20, and so on. I think an hour was the goal), witnessing and evangelizing, church attendance and service (we were at church or church meetings between 3 and 7 times a week). Being a Christian was doing all of these things. And of course being a Christian was also not doing a whole lot of other things. Drinking, smoking, having sex, playing sport on Sunday etc. (for Scot, a different generation, he also includes not dancing and not going to the movies). Thus...

Definition Two = A Christian is someone who reads their bible, prays, witnesses, attends church lot’s and doesn’t drink, smoke, have sex, play sport on Sunday (dance or go to the movies). You could call these personal private practices of piety.

A Christian was defined by a single moment of acceptance or repentance and then a whole lot of do’s and do not’s.

I won’t go on to steal all of Scot’s material but wanted to wet your appetite in regards to One.Life; perhaps being a book you should read. I will keep going a bit longer though.

Next Scot writes...

Every time the single-moment act of accepting Christ becomes the goal instead of the portal, we get superficial Christians. And every time personal practices of piety wiggle away from the big picture Jesus sketches for his followers it becomes legalism. And I became a legalist.

He then goes on to talk about a revolutionary process and journey of transformation he went through in regards to his thinking and understanding of what it means to follow Jesus. Which he outlines in this book One.Life; Jesus Calls, We Follow. My journey doesn’t quite track the same as Scot’s here but via the leading of the Holy Spirit in a different way my understanding of what it is to follow Jesus has been radically re-calibrated over the last 8 years or so. I just didn’t get it before.

What I understood about being a Christian was right; it just wasn’t right enough.

Definition Three = Read One.Life it will help you understand more clearly what it is to be a follower of Jesus.

In One.Life Scot (to quote the back page) calls you beyond the flatlands of religiosity toward a kingdom vision that will shape everything you do.

“After reading One.Life I made a silent covenant with God to read everything Scot writes from this day forward.” – Bill Hybels

I’m looking forward to using this book and many of its thoughts and concepts as a part of our discipleship process at St Luke’s.

Thanks Scot!

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