My Current Understanding of the Christian Life
The portion of scripture that best summarizes Christianity for me is Ephesians 2:8-10, which reads, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
My eternal life flows from Jesus’ death, his gift of grace. This counter-intuitive truth is so scandalous that 2,000 years of history has not made it any less amazing or unbelievable in a world addicted to karma.
However, there is more; I was saved for a purpose. God, in his mysterious wisdom, has chosen us to be his hands and heart in this world. He has a significant work for us to do. Throughout scripture we are taught that merely playing church is of no value (Amos 5:21-24), whereas loving our neighbors in real and practical ways is of inestimable value (Jeremiah 22:16; Matthew 25:40; Galatians 6:2).
In summary, I believe that the holistic spiritual life modeled by Jesus balances prayer and care, word and deed, meditation and activism, solitude and community.
Click here to read my peace theology.
Jesus is dangerous. He wasn’t killed for merely being a really nice guy. Living his way turns the world on its head. Suddenly the weak start getting more powerful and the powerful begin weakening; bank accounts of the rich begin diminishing while the poor increase in value, both economically and existentially; the “unclean” are touched and those on the margins are invited to more parties; the first are last and the last first.
Jesus said the gates of hell will not prevail. The gates that protect the hell of poverty, loneliness, hunger, despair, injustice and hate are not strong enough to keep out the light and life of sustenance, community, justice and love. But in the words of Edmund Burke, “All that is necessary for evil to succeed is that good men do nothing.” So Jesus calls us to do something.
What is he calling you to do? What is your mission?
The following resources can help you “prepare your mind for action,” (1 Peter 1:13).
These are my top 10 recommendations for gaining a well-rounded understanding of Christianity:
- Steps to Christ – Ellen White – Sometimes more than baby-steps.
- The Desire of Ages – Ellen White – Jesus is the desire.
- Searching for a God to Love – Chris Blake – “The one you’ve always wanted is really there.”
- A Hunger for Healing – Keith Miller – 12-step guide to spirituality.
- Come to the Quiet – Jim Hohnberger – A simple life and fervent faith.
- The Eleventh Commandment – Dwight Nelson – Love God and all our neighbors.
- Faith Works – Jim Wallis – Faith works through social activism.
- Good News about Injustice – Gary Haugen – Jesus can use you to stop injustice.
- The Irresistible Revolution – Shane Claiborne – Revolution of community and activism.
- Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger – Ron Sider – Biblical view of poverty and what we can do about it.
Plus 20 more:
- Celebration of Discipline – Richard Foster – Disciplines for spiritual growth.
- For the Beauty of the Earth – Steven Bouma-Prediger – Christian vision for creation care.
- Is that Really You, God? – Loren Cunningham – Hearing & following the voice of God.
- It’s about People – Jim Hohnberger – Respecting people we disagree with.
- Jesus for President – Shane Claiborne – Imagination for Kingdom-living.
- Jesus Wants to Save Christians – Rob Bell – Christianity, justice and the empire.
- Kingdom Ethics – Stassen & Gushee – Following Jesus in our context.
- Mere Christianity – C.S. Lewis – Overview of the issues.
- Searching for God Knows What – Donald Miller – No more lifeboat mentality.
- Shalom – Perry Yoder – Salvation, justice, and peace.
- Shalom Church – Craig Nessan – Body of Christ as ministering community.
- Simply Christian – N. T. Wright – Echoes of a voice.
- Social Holiness – Alan Kreider – What is holiness?
- The Case for Christ – Lee Strobel – Evidence for the Master.
- The Externally Focused Church – Rusaw & Swanson – Think outside the pew.
- The Politics of Jesus – John Howard Yoder – Jesus and ethics.
- The Pursuit of Holiness – Jerry Bridges – Internal that leads to external.
- Traveling Mercies – Anne Lamott – The journey is difficult, so build barns.
- Velvet Elvis – Rob Bell – A new painting of faith & life.
- What’s So Amazing about Grace? – Philip Yancey – The scandal of true grace.
- Books on the social dimensions of following Jesus posted at Adventist Activism.
- Amazon.com Listmania – Christian Social Activism
|Angela||The Greatest Word||
|Angela||I Get by with a Little Help from My Friends||Community|
|Angela||Shedding Our Old Skin||The Life of the Claw|
|Jeff||I Don’t Know Why||God & Social Justice|
|Jeff||It Takes 2 to Tango||Experiencing Jesus|
|Jeff||Religious Freedom||Free to Live Your Own Conscience|
Sermons on Peace/Nonviolence:
- Blessed are the Peacemakers (Series by Rob Bell at Mars Hill)
- The Cross and the Sword (Series by Greg Boyd at Woodland Hills; see also search-term nonviolence) and at Jesus Radicals
- On the Care and Feeding of Enemies (Matthew Dowling)
- The Active, Nonviolence of Jesus — Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7 (Series by Herb Montgomery)