If you’ve read this far, I think I can assume that you are ‘walking into the light’. But on your own path.
Everyone’s path is different.
Each one of us is unique.
But, may I share something of my experience with you? Maybe something I write will help you. Or maybe you will write to me, and I will find that helpful.
At the heart of the journey is the conviction that there is something out there – good – that is prepared to befriend humanity.
But what is this ‘something’? We’ve all heard of benign aliens from outer-space; or, closer to home, ‘enlightened ones’; or the temperamental gods of myth; or more contemporary philosophical and metaphysical conceptions of ‘God’
There’s so much diversity!
Take your pick.
Christianity often doesn’t get good press because it’s seen as bigoted. No matter how much its priests gush about love, tolerance and inclusion, it’s bound by its scriptures, and Jesus is recorded as saying, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life: no-one comes to the Father [God] except through me’ (John 14:6).
“So, what about other faiths?” everybody says.
Thing is, it depends on what Jesus meant.
Did he mean it like, say, putting your signature on a legal document – in which case you’re entitled to whatever you signed up for? Or maybe, like having the right code for your software – in which case you can activate it on your device, otherwise you can’t?
Or did he mean it to be an organic process – something you have to live out in order to see results?
I’m inclined to believe Jesus meant it as a process. By way of comparison, Jesus lived among very religious people (the Pharisees). They were signed-up to the worship of God in every legal way, and very, very in-your-face about it. As far as they were concerned you either believed the letter of what they believed, or you were out. Except Jesus said the way they treated people showed they didn’t really know or understand God at all – not like he did. The Pharisees disagreed with his opinion so much they crucified him. (That kind of intolerance sound familiar?)
So, I think its a process.
The way, the truth, and the life is a process that changes people.
Jesus meant us to live his way, showing love, compassion and tolerance. He meant us to know his truth – the kind of relationship with God (that ‘something out there’) that enabled the love of God to flow through him, and the will of God to guide him, as he prioritized the benefit of humanity, healing all kinds of ailments and teaching people about God, while putting his personal interest second. And he meant us to live as he did – to be filled with the life of God: the Pharisees crucified him; he died and was entombed. But God raised him to life on the third day, and now he lives forever. That’s the life he means us to live.
You have to live it out – the way, the truth, the life. Jesus says you’re not going to make it all the way through to God unless you follow the process. That’s his experienced and informed opinion.
And if you take his advice, and follow in his footsteps – walking into the light – you’ll find out you can’t do it without his help.
We can’t cleanse ourselves of wrong-doing by our own efforts, not to God’s standard of perfection. The bible says, ‘All sin and fall short of the glory of God’ (Romans 3:23). But there’s good news: ‘God shows his love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Jesus died for us’ (Romans 5:8).
Let’s explore what that means. After all, we’re going to die anyway, one day; why should God overlook our imperfection and give us everlasting life, like Jesus?
Because Jesus helps us.
It’s that simple.
He died for us so that we could live for him; we die to our self-interest so that he (God) can live in us. And the Father (God) gives us life eternal.
There’s sacrifice involved: Jesus gave himself willingly as a sacrifice for our imperfection. And, to walk his road, we must also sacrifice our self-interest and submit to God’s will: we must know and be led by his Spirit.
Jesus’ sacrifice was far grander than anything we will ever accomplish. It was original and all-encompassing. (It can be explained in many different ways – and I’m sure it is also effective in ways that theologians haven’t understood yet. I could take time to explain some of those theologies, but that would slow us down. Later, maybe.) Our sacrifices are pale reflections of his, but they show our faith and commitment, and that’s enough for God to work with us.
Walk in the light, as he is in the light.1 John 1:7
This brings us to the prayer of commitment. When someone decides they want to follow Jesus they work through these steps, or something like them.
- Father God, I know that you are creator of the universe, and that Jesus is your Son
- I know that I am imperfect (a sinner)and that Jesus died to save me from my imperfection so that I might receive eternal life from you.
- I am determined to change (repent) – instead of indulging my imperfect self-interest (sometimes at the expense of others) I am determined to follow the example of Jesus: he is the way, the truth, and the life.
- Forgive me for my shortcomings (sins) and receive me as your child, born again of your Spirit.
- Jesus, I acknowledge you as my Lord; come and live in my heart.
If this is you, then praying through the above should connect you with God – let him know you want to be friends.
If his Spirit is present then confirmation in your heart should be instantaneous.
But if it isn’t, stick with it. Take this scripture to heart: ‘If you say “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved’ (Romans 10:9). Because it is in your heart that you believe and receive peace and confirmation, and with your mouth that you speak out, exercising your faith, and are saved (paraphrase of Romans 10:10).
And find other Christians to pray with you. Go to church. Ask God to guide you. Here’s a link to a good basic bible study for new believers.
I’ve tried here to present the core message of Christianity in a way that minimizes historical baggage; that resonates better with the spirit of the 21st Century. (In fact, I’d like to go further, and sift the phenomenon of Christianity using empirical and legal means – and in some of my fiction and commentary I do take that approach.)
But it is short-sighted to ignore the wisdom of the past. I mentioned that Jesus’ crucifixion has been theologised in different ways: here is a link to a concise explanation of two of the most important: ‘atonement theory’ and ‘ransom theory’.
But – a last word of advice – keep it simple; keep it honest. Its a relationship with a deity who is a lot kinder and cleverer than you are.
You can email me if you want.