Not really religious at all?

A lot of people, when religion comes up in discussion, say, 'I'm not really religious at all.'

I know what you mean. The fact is, however, everybody is religious deep down. Like the man who said, 'I'm an atheist, thank God!'

You may not be a Christian, Buddhist, Muslim, Hindu or whatever, but as a human being you can't live without:

 

 

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Not religious?

Both of these reflect the religious aspect of your nature. You may, for instance, worship money, or fame, or sport, or pleasure, or some celebrity like a footballer or popstar. Worship is essentially what you focus your devotion upon, and if it's not the true God it will be some substitute for him - and in the end unsatisfying.

And where do you take your moral standards from? Maybe you've adopted the ones practised by your parents without giving it too much thought. Or you may aim to 'do to others as you would have them do to you' - which is a teaching of the Christian Bible. Or you may take as your baseline the principle of the survival of the fittest, which means that you don't fuss too much about hurting other people as you find your own way up the ladder.

There may be other indications of your religious nature. Are you superstitious, for instance, like always putting your left shoe on before your right one? Do you read your horoscope or use healing crystals? Have you ever played with a ouija board? Been to a séance? Or had a reading from tarot cards, tea-leaves or the lines on your palm? These are all poor God-substitutes. At worst, they can become channels by which demonic spirits afflict your mind and emotions.

Looking at Christianity

Christianity is a revealed religion. By that we mean that God is so big, so 'other', that mere humans like us can't even start to relate to him. If we are to know him at all it must be because he has chosen to reach down to us and make himself known - to reveal himself. And that's exactly what he has done.

God has shown himself to be a person, not just a force à la Star Wars. He is separate from the universe, which he created, rather than being somehow 'in' it. He is a social God, existing eternally as Father, Son and Holy Spirit and thus enjoying company within his own being. Yet he is one God, not three.

And in love he reaches out to people, in whom he has placed a spiritual dimension that puts them in a class above mere animals and causes them to seek someone or something to worship. He made the first humans, Adam and Eve, with free will, which they used to turn against him. Ever since, people have been alienated from God and society has been marred by evil, pain, hatred and tragedy. But that didn't quench God's love or diminish his desire for a relationship with his creatures. So he began a process to reconcile them to himself.

He first got a toe-hold into society, so to speak, through individuals like Enoch, Noah and Abraham, then through the Israelite nation and their prophets, revealing himself little by little, with a view to reaching the whole world. The account of how he did it is recorded in the Old Testament - the first of the Bible's two main sections.

The Jesus factor

But the plan moved into top gear when God himself came right down to earth 2000 years ago and livedJesus: the happiest man who ever lived among us in the person of Jesus Christ. The New Testament gives the details of that.

Jesus Christ, the God-man, was perfect, yet he died by crucifixion - a cruel form of death reserved for the worst criminals. The Bible assures us that Jesus submitted willingly to that death out of love for lost and wayward people like you and me; on the cross he suffered the punishment due to us for our selfishness and sin.

But on the third day he rose from death - not in some 'spiritual' way, but literally and physically. He spent six weeks with his disciples talking about the kingdom of God before returning to heaven. Shortly after that, the Holy Spirit came down to empower those disciples, who became the first Christians. They began spreading the gospel ('good news') of reconciliation with God through faith in Jesus Christ, and Christianity now touches the lives of tens of millions throughout the world.

A changed life for you

Your current perceptions of Christianity may be unhelpful. Being a Christian is not essentially church-going, joining some denomination, trying to be good and giving to charity. It's a radical change that takes place from the inside out as you submit your whole life to God and enjoy his power enabling you to live life to the full.

Becoming a Christian involves four steps:

Where to go from here?

If you are genuinely open to becoming a Christian, I suggest you begin to do two things.

First, start to pray to God and ask him to reveal himself ever more clearly to you as you reach out to get to know him. And second, start reading the Bible. Try an up-to-date translation like the New Living Translation. You will notice that it is divided into 'books'. Begin by dipping into the New Testament. Read Mark for starters, then John, then Acts. As you read, ask God to make his truth come alive to you.

Meanwhile, I suggest you sign up for an Alpha course. These courses are specifically for introducing people like you to the Christian faith, and they are held regularly all over the UK and in many other countries. You can ask all the questions you like, and no-one will try to push you into something you don't want.

You can discover a local course by checking out the Alpha website.

If you want to read more on my site here, have a look at the Beginning with God notes, which provide a basic introduction to the Christian faith. This short self-study course consists of 12 lessons and, if you want to go beyond that, another 12 follow them under the title Growing in God.

To discover more about Jesus, go to the ReJesus site.

I pray that you will get to know God in a deep, personal way and so embark on a life of new meaning and purpose, with the happy prospect of even greater fulfilment after you die or when Jesus returns. Yes, he's coming back to wind up this sad old world and put things right once and for all!

What I've laid out so far just scratches the surface of Christianity. There are unimaginable treasures to discover. Begin searching now! And may God himself bless you as you do so.

 

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