There will be a day when I eventually add my full story on the blog. I have been on quite the journey of discovering my faith and why I believe the things I do.
Recently, I have been thinking about a paradox of Christianity. There are several because, to be honest, everything that Jesus taught is quite the opposite of the way we think. Jesus says “To be first, you should be last. To be rich, give away your money.” The list goes on.
In 2009 – I chose to follow Jesus with all my heart. Growing up in a Christian home, this “conversion” was more than an alter call for me. This was a core decision that would forever change my life. Now being a pastor at Liberty Church Union Square – I meet with anywhere from 4-10 people one on one every week and walk out the journey of Christianity. Some people have been following Jesus for a long time, and some are still figuring out if they even believe in God. This exposes me to all kinds of questions, ideas, and teaches me more than I could ever learn in school.
One paradox of Christianity on my mind has been how Christianity is both all about you and at the same time is not about you. The word “paradox” is defined as “A seemingly contradictory statement that may nonetheless be true.”
I fully believe that Christianity is about you.
The fact that Jesus died on the cross and rose again for you to be able to have a relationship with God and have eternal life – well that fact is mind blowing and humbling. Jesus died for murderers, rapists, millionaires, and saints.
I remember being consumed by nightlife and New York City, the realization that God actually loved me and had a plan for my life was hard to understand. It took me on a long journey of discovering that “Jesus loves you” is not just a children’s song – it was something true – still today. Over the last few years – I have become free from rejection, fear, and multiple addictions and issues.
“God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.” ~ Eph 2:8-9
God cares about the things you care about. He wants you to have a relationship with Him. He sets the lonely in family and wants you to be living out your full purpose. All of these things are in the Bible and true. But, there is more.
I fully believe that Christianity is not about you.
If you have no love for others – then Christianity becomes all about you. I am not talking about “I pray for other people, of course I love them.” I am talking about sacrificial love. Stopping and giving people your time, your money, your heart. Your Christianity can’t just be about the vertical relationship between you and God. If it stops there, then it is just noise. If that relationship doesn’t move horizontally, then I would go ahead and question your understanding of Christianity.
“If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.” ~ 1 corinthians 13:1
I think this is the area where Christians face the most criticism. There are so many people that would call themselves Christians and have faith that can move mountains but they do not have love. You can be the most biblically knowledgable person, and your faith can be so big and monumental, but if you’re not others oriented you are missing it!
I meet with Christians all the time that face this problem. They travel to Africa to serve the poor. They pray for the sick and see them healed in Jesus name. They serve every Sunday and know the Bible through and through. Yet, we sit together one on one and it is still about them. What they have done. The focus is on the giver and not the receiver.
I think this is one of the hardest core issues we face if we are a Christian. We understand that Jesus died for us and has an unconditional love for us. His Purpose for us is massive. Yet, we are faced with this paradox of a love that makes us the most valuable – a love so big and massive – that are hearts become others focused.
It’s not about Eternal Life + being saved
I believe our devotion to God is authenticated not by just our love for God but by our love for others. Many of us unintentionally have gotten this wrong. It’s not about being “good” and a self help program.
After being a Christian for a few years I realized that my prayers were I, I, I. My attempt to be more Godly. The desires of my heart. My understanding of God. The things that I know.
Then God challenged me and said to me “Whatever you want, give it away. If you love me, give that away.”
The law of sowing and reaping is true whether you believe it or not. I quickly realized that the issues I was trying to work out got resolved when I stopped thinking about myself. I stopped coming to church because it needed to serve me. I started coming to church aware that there were others that didn’t know Gods love.
I don’t usually write posts like this …
It is kinda of a heart dump. I just think there are two things that really set me on fire.
1. There are millions of people that are dealing with lifes problems – and going through every day life – and have no idea that God is real, that He actually likes them, that they can speak to God, and they can have unconditional joy.
2. That there are so many Christians that “know” everything about God – but never stop to ask Him – God, what do you care about? They’re whole Christian life is stuck.
We have to step out to what is uncomfortable to us. What is that for you? What breaks your heart? Are you willing to do something about it?