Throughout history misguided religion has been the source of much evil in the world. We find strange, questionable, or fruitless practices even among Christians. Is there such a thing as pure religion? The Bible says that there is, and it’s described in James 1:27.
Growing in Christ
The world is so full of human conflicts, failure, and negativity. And personal problems and disappointments can assault our lives. How can we be free from the constant chaos that floods human existence? Is there a way we can rise above it all and live in peace? A good start would be to heed the apostle Paul’s practical wisdom in Philippians 4:8—thinking about whatever is true, noble, right, and pure.
Faith is so important to the believer in Christ. It’s by faith that we receive salvation. And it’s by faith that we live an obedient Christian life and survive the trials and storms that come against us. But how do we increase our faith? Did Jesus say anything about this? In this article we’ll see the connection between a strong faith and knowing God.
The gospel stories often include closeups of individuals that highlight their responses to Christ and his ministry. Mary of Bethany and Judas Iscariot were two followers of Jesus that had two greatly different responses. Matthew and John artfully contrasted them in their gospels to teach us some important lessons about faith, love, devotion, and obedience to God.
One of the greatest disputes in the Church today is how Christians should relate to the Mosaic laws. Some maintain that none of the Mosaic laws apply to us anymore because we are under the New Covenant. Others say they all apply since the Old Testament is God’s eternal Word and doesn’t change. Should Christians obey the Law of Moses? Or, are there some that apply to us and others that don’t?
The cross has always been the symbol of the Christian faith. Everyone knows it symbolizes the death of Christ. In the historical record, it was the means by which the Romans executed their criminals. So what did Jesus mean when he told us to carry our cross? In the popular view today, it’s a metaphor for any form of discomfort, like having to put up with people we don’t like, or having a responsibility we really don’t want. But in the Bible, in its simplest and purest form, the cross means unjust suffering and death.
God established boundaries that define the world we live in and provide structure to our lives. They keep us living in the real world, not an imaginary world of our own making. God’s commands are ancient boundaries that keep us on safe paths and provide blessing in our lives. But those who cross them or ignore them do so at their own peril. God set spiritual and moral boundary stones as monuments that, even today we can get our bearings on to keep us on the right paths.
What is most important to you in life? What is the most important thing you can think of? Jesus Christ taught that loving God is the highest of all priorities, the greatest command in God’s law. According to the Bible, we were made to be connected to God in a love relationship. But what does it mean to love God? How can we love a Being we can’t see? Loving God means giving him ourselves—our heart, soul, mind, and strength—all that we are.
How do we become better people? How do we make a better society? Will the coming of a new year magically bring the changes we want in us and others we live with? No, nothing really changes with the changing of the calendar. If we are the same people, then there is no reason to think that society will change. We are still sinful and need God and his transforming power. But how can we change?