How do you live the Christian life?
It sounds like an easy question doesn’t it, but in giving an answer to it, most people go on to talk about WHAT they consider they should be doing as a Christian – being a good person, not getting drunk, praying every day e.t.c, e.t.c. But you see, they have missed the point – I am not asking WHAT I should be doing as a Christian, but HOW I go about trying to be the sort of person that God wants me to be. HOW I put WHAT I should be doing into practice in my daily life.
Do you know, this is a question that has occupied my mind for decades! As a young Christian I got some answers from different Elders / Overseers as well as from different Christian books. I got answers all right, but somehow, none of them seemed to be quite right. Some of these approaches led me into depression, some led the fellowship concerned to have a general critical and judgmental attitude, and some promised heaven on earth but never quite delivered.
That forms part of the background to my new book ‘I’ve become a Christian: How do I live my Christian life?’ At over one hundred and twenty pages the answer, drawn from the Bible, is not glib and superficial, but rather it is subtle and nuanced; and of course it is deeply centred around the work of Jesus the Messiah on our behalf, and on our relationship to God in the Spirit through Him.
In my younger days, when I understood less about the Christian life, I was caught between two Elder/Overseers who held quite opposite viewpoints on this subject. In their own way, each of these Overseers were (and still are!) quite strong characters. Just as with their approach to this theme, so also their characters, personalities and temperaments were quite opposite also – they were as you might say, as different as chalk and cheese. In many ways they complimented each other, each one supplying what the other lacked. But it was not much fun being stuck in the middle between two strong personalities and being pulled first this way and then the other way.
For various reasons, including a period of rebellion, my own explorations of spirituality took me into the realm of ‘Inner Spirituality’ – the so-called ‘Kingdom of God Within’ – and I moved out of the sphere of influence of both of these Overseers.. I enjoy what each of them has to offer but on this matter, I don’t think that I agree with either of them!
The great thing about coming back to mainstream orthodox Christianity after a long period, for me at least, was that I was able to get back to basics, and lets face it, this is a pretty basic question. I had to ‘unlearn’ some of the teaching that I had absorbed. I was comfortable enough to question my own orientation at a very deep level. Some of what I had leaned about Christianity ended up being thrown out. I had to go back to the time when I was baptised almost forty years ago, stripping away so much mistaken teaching and so many misperceptions.
After studying some very deep thinkers and philosophers in the sphere of mystical spirituality, it was refreshing to come back to the Scriptures and start again looking at the very basics of the Christian life. In many ways, I am still engaged in that process, but part of that journey has been my answer to this question: ‘HOW do I live my Christian life?’ Do I turn to God’s Law and Commandments as a spur to holiness? Or do I seek and wait for the power of God in the Spirit to overcome sin and live a godly life? Or do I simply look inward, to the Spirit-Within, do I seek to be ‘authentic’ to myself as a born again believer, a new creature in Christ now indwelt by the Spirit of God? Or do the Apostles suggest a different way altogether? Well, that is what my book is all about.
I’m sure that it is not perfect. I’m sure that it is wrong in some places. But I have tried my best, for what it is worth, to bring over forty years of experience and study to a theme that is very basic and yet often misunderstood.