Jesus, Forgiveness, Healing, Grace, Mercy, Redemption are all words that are associated with Christianity but the understanding of them is being lost today's world.
First and Second-Hand Christians
I’m still searching for a better expression to help make the point I want to make, meanwhile I’ll have to settle for ‘Second-Hand Christians’. Be clear however, Reader, that I'm not suggesting that Second-Hand Christians are in any way Second-Class Christians or that they are any less loved by God or that they will not inherit Eternal Life. What I am trying to bring to light are those people who only believe what they do believe because somebody else has told them or is something they have read about and accepted as being true. In other words they are relying upon Second-Hand information.
St Paul in his letter to those Christians who lived in Rome at the time wrote - 'But how shall they ask him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless somebody tells them?' (Romans 10:14&15) So this is the way we all start, by hearing the Good News from others.
But, a problem can arise if we remain a Second-Hand Christian, the problem being that our Faith is in, and remains in, the source of the information that we are believing. The meaning of the word Faith, in this context, can be looked upon as being the special intangible ingredient that allows us to believe that something is true with any accompanying proof - in other words we rely upon the integrity of the source.
For example, when we are very young we look to our parents or guardians and believe everything that they tell us , explain to us and show us. Our faith is in them, we don’t know anything different so we don't require any proof. When we start school then it's usual to widen our source of faith to include what we are taught by our school teachers. In such examples, and there are many others that we encounter and believe in our journey through life, we only accept what we are taught if the integrity of our source remains sound.
This can become a problem in two ways. The first occurs when we find, as we always eventually will, a conflict of information. For example our parents may have told us to ‘never trust a policeman' and yet we discover for ourselves that the local policeman faithfully does a good job at running the local youth club football team - and so the integrity of our parents is then questioned.
The second source of a problem is when integrity is lost due to the source falling short in terms of their behaviour. It maybe that we discover that we have been told lies or in extreme cases our source has been found guilty of inappropriate behaviour that is not expected for those in trustworthy positions.
What has all this to do with Second-Hand Christianity, you may ask? Well it's this. - If we are brought up in a Christian family then we accept, in faith, the teaching of the Church and those who represent it. We sometimes forget that those in authority in 'the Church' are not in themselves perfect. They are just as human as we all are, and just as capable of falling into sinful behaviour.
The track record of the Christian Church in actually keeping to the standards set by its founder Jesus, is not a good one. But the purpose of this Web Site is to promote the Good News of Jesus and not be critical of the past mistakes that have been made by all the different Christian Denominations. I always avoid being draw into discussions about the Church. I am first and foremost a follower of Jesus and live out my faith in him in my everyday life and by my involvement in all three of the different denominations local to where I live. I don’t believe that any one, of the many church denominations that are available to choose from, has a monopoly of the truth.
The problem with this poor track record of the Church is not in the details of what has gone wrong, these can be sorted out. The problem is the loss of faith that had been put in the teaching of the Church that has not practiced what it preaches. Such loss of faith can have a domino effect with even the faith, that has been put into the Bible, being questioned. I believe that ‘faith’ in any Second-Hand source is the main reason for the decline in Church attendances. What is needed is for more Christians to develop a ‘Covenant Relationship’ with God and start receiving ‘Firsthand’ information
An interesting thing about ‘faith’ is this - Far more important than how much faith we have is what our faith is in. For example, consider a situation where you are faced with a plank that is forming a bridge across a stream and you have to decide if it is strong enough to support your weight. You may have all the faith in the world in the plank but if it is faulty and collapses when tried, then all your faith was worthless. On the other hand even a little bit of faith in a good plank will stop you getting wet.
The point that I’m leading up to is that our faith has not got to be in the Church or any other earthly thing or person but needs to be in Jesus himself. But how can this be done unless we know more about him and learn to trust him through a Firsthand experience of his Love.
The purpose of this Web site is to lead you, Reader, into such a Personal Experience.
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