- What Must I Give Up to Become a Christian?
- How Can I Ever be Good Enough for God?
- How Do I Overcome My Fears?
- How Can I Find Peace?
- Isn't Christianity Just an Emotional Experience?
- Where Is My Prince Charming?
- Why is Life so Hard Sometimes?
- So, Where's the Peace?
- Is Life Always Going To Be A Challenge?
- Should Christians Fight in War?
- Will Life Always Be Challenging
What Must I Give Up to Become a Christian?
To become a Christian, you will have to give up searching for hope, peace, and fulfillment.
God only gave up one thing so people could become “Christians.” He gave up his only Son who was Christ.
Jesus gave up everything including his life so that you and I wouldn’t have to. He doesn’t make us give up anything. He merely offers us a new abundant life while we’re alive and the after life to come.
He only asks that we recognize we are lost and wayward and needing a Savior. He only asks that we lay down the pride of our selfishness that says, “We don’t need God.”
That pride is sin. The plain truth is we are born that way; born in sin and separated from God. That’s why our lives get so messed up.
What are you searching for? The list could be long and the answers may be many, but there is only one right answer to your search, to your struggle—Jesus Christ.
It is wise to count the cost of Christianity, just as it is wise to consider the cost of life without it. Should you decide you do not want to live in loneliness, hopelessness, fearfulness, or whatever state you find yourself in, the next step is simple. Answer this question, “Are you willing to lay down your pride and ask God for help?”
If so, then by faith, which comes from God, admit your life is a mess and you need a helper, a comforter—a Savior. Recognize that you need Jesus as your Savior. Commit to putting your trust in Christ so that you will be right with God.
So far you have been trusting in yourself, and look where you’re at. Trust in Jesus, he will not let you down. The Bible says, “For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. As the Scripture says, 'Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame'" (Romans 10:10-11).
Lay your pride down, hold your head up, and receive new life.
How Can I Ever be Good Enough for God?
God wants you as you are, he really does. And no, you’ll never be “good enough,” but read on. This thing called the Church and its Christianity has been around for about two thousand years. Its founder, Jesus Christ, is the only one who had it all together.
When he started his teaching “career” in the hillsides of Jerusalem, Jesus asked for volunteers. The first few were uneducated, unshowered fisherman. Next was a hard working, law abiding, yet detested, tax-collector (men in this profession didn’t live like the church thought they ought to). The list went on to include men who were short-tempered, slow-witted, doubtful, and one was so messed up he committed suicide (Herbert Lockyer, All the Apostles of the Bible, Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1972). Notice, there were no doctors, lawyers, or great philosophers amongst the bunch.
Jesus and his volunteers, or disciples, hung out with the “no-goods” of his day. He hung out with people who needed what he offered—salvation from their infirmities through physical, spiritual, and emotional healing. “When the teachers of the law who were [the church leaders] saw him eating with the ‘sinners’ and tax collectors, they asked his disciples: ‘Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?’ On hearing this, Jesus said to them, ‘It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners’” (Mark 2:16-17). Jesus accepted people as they were—sinners. None of them were “good enough” and neither are we, not without Christ.
It is only after we understand that we can never be “good enough” apart from a Savior, that we are ready to receive righteousness through what Jesus Christ did for us. Only after accepting Christ’s sacrifice for one’s sins, can one be “good enough” for God. Jesus’ perfect-ness is what makes it work. We come as we are. Only Jesus Christ’s life, death, and resurrection can make us “good enough” for God (Romans 3:10, 19-20).
How Do I Overcome My Fears?
When the hero senses danger and lets fear quickly move him away from certain peril toward safety, we side with him. But, we use names like “chicken” and “scaredy cat” to taunt the fearful. The Bible offers counsel for both types of fears.
If you are not a Christian, fear of God should cause you to shutter with utter terror that God himself is against you because of your sin (Romans 1:18). “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God”(Hebrews 10:31, ESV). Like the fear felt by the hero, this fear works for your good if it moves you toward the saving God. If you do not know God, ask God to open your eyes so that you can see his awesomeness and beauty, turn to him, receive forgiveness of sins, and join with those who God makes holy through Christ (Acts 26:18).
For Christians, fear of God is commanded. Before sending out his disciples to minister to those who were certain to persecute them, Jesus Christ said, “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28, ESV).
Since fear of God is necessary for developing Christ-like attributes necessary for courageous Christian living, the commandment is not without promise.
Fear of God:
- is the beginning of wisdom (Proverbs 9:10).
- keeps you from doing wrong (Exodus 20:20).
- is for your good and your survival (Deuteronomy 6:24).
- enables you to consider and declare what God has done for you (Psalm 64:9).
- is rewarded with mercy (Luke 1:50).
- gives you courage (2 Corinthians 5:6-11).
- perfects you in holiness (2 Corinthians 7:1).
- allows you to yield to others (Ephesians 5:21).
- will be rewarded (Revelation 11:18).
God commands you not to fear the future, your circumstances, people, or death.
So how do you overcome these kinds of fears? God himself gives you the truth that enables you to be a conqueror.
Do not fear because God:
- fights for you (Deuteronomy 3:22).
- delivers you from the hand of your enemies (2 Kings 17:39).
- will not fail or forsake you (1 Chronicles 28:20).
- will save you (Isaiah 35:4).
- is God. He will strengthen, help, and uphold you (Isaiah 41:10).
- provides for you (Jeremiah 5:24).
- sees you as valuable (Matthew 10:31).
- has adopted you (Romans 8:15).
“The LORD is my light and my salvation;
whom shall I fear?
The LORD is the stronghold of my life;
of whom shall I be afraid?
Though an army encamps against me,
my heart shall not fear;
though war arise against me,
yet I will be confident.
I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the LORD
in the land of the living!
Wait for the LORD;
be strong, and let your heart take courage;
wait for the LORD!” (Psalm 27:1, 3, 13-14; ESV).
How Can I Find Peace?
“Shalom”is the more familiar Hebrew word for peace. “Eirene”is the less-familiar Greek version. A sense of well-being is the basic meaning of both.
When great catastrophe came upon Job, his security, based on his reputation, relationships, and possessions, was shattered. As a result, his sense of well-being was destroyed. So he lamented, “I have no peace, no quietness; I have no rest, but only turmoil"(Job 3:26, NIV). Can you identify with Job’s initial feelings?
But God is peace and promises peace (Ephesians 2:14-22). Even in devastation, just as Job came to understand, you can be free from turmoil, fear, distress, insecurity, and anxiety.
How? It’s as easy as believing (Romans 8:6).
Believe that Jesus Christ makes you at peace with God.
Knowing this brings peace because:
- You don’t have to worry that God is against you. “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1, NAS).
- You don’t have to wonder if you’re good enough to be accepted by God. “But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness”(Romans 4:5, NAS).
- You don’t have to feel anxious over your ability to change your life. “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6 ESV).
- You don’t have to feel insecure about your future. “And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance … ”(Ephesians 1:13-14, NIV).
Knowing this brings peace because:
- You don’t have to fret over planning out your life. “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6, ESV).
- You don’t have to worry that God will abandon you. “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39, ESV).
- You don’t have to feel insecure about how God will judge you. “ … He will judge the world in righteousness and the peoples in His faithfulness” (Psalm 96:13, ESV).
Knowing this brings peace because:
- You don’t have to manipulate people or situations for your good. “Great peace have those who love your law; nothing can make them stumble” (Psalm 119:165, ESV).
- You don’t have to be anxious about God’s provision for you. “And my God will supply every need of yours according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19, ESV).
Knowing this brings peace because:
- You don’t have to worry about how things will turn out. “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28, ESV).
- You don’t have to feel the stress of defending yourself or impressing other people. “My salvation and my honor depend on God; He is my mighty rock, my refuge” (Psalm 62:7, NIV).
Ask God to help you believe in Jesus Christ and in His promises so that His peace can reign in your heart. “Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you” (2 Thessalonians 3:16, NIV).Can God change your life?
Isn't Christianity Just an Emotional Experience?
When a person newly understands that Jesus is God and took his or her death penalty for sin on himself, it can definitely be an emotional experience. When he or she has crossed over from eternal death to eternal life, that can be an emotional experience, too.
But the emotional experience is not all there is to Christianity.
Some think when they have a religious experience and suddenly want to live well and do good in the world, that is Christianity. They may get some emotional joy out of helping others, but that is not Christianity.
Christianity is based on facts:
- That there is only one true God.
- That He is perfect and holy and requires all who enter his presence to be the same (without sin).
- That since Adam and Eve introduced sin into the world, everyone born has sinned.
- That the only way, then, for us to enter God’s presence and survive is to have our sins dealt with.
- That the only way to deal with our sins is to die for them -- or to have someone else step in to die for us.
- That the only person qualified to step in for us must be a perfect sacrifice (sinless), and the only one who can live sinless is God Himself. So God came as a man, Jesus, and took the death penalty for our sins upon Himself on the cross.
- And that anyone who accepts this fact (believes it, understands it, owns it for themselves) is saved from the death penalty of sin and will spend eternity in the presence of God (in heaven).
Emotions come and go, ebb and flow like waves on a shore. Anything based on emotions will also rise and fall, grow and fade, wax and wane.
True Christian faith is based on reason and understanding of God’s history of work on earth. When a person truly understands and believes in Christ (the definition of a Christian), then his or her faith stands strong through any emotional episode.
Emotions may erupt and fade, but true faith remains.
Where Is My Prince Charming?
This question cuts to the quick. It gets to the tough stuff of life -- issues of the heart that are tender and fragile and emotionally charged.
Some among us thought they’d found that one special relationship. They invested time and emotional energy in it, only to be disappointed as they watched it crumble in a heap of unfulfilled expectations and broken dreams. Others among us (I am in this camp) have never yet found that one special person to love and be loved.
I can’t begin to tell you the searing pain I experience every time someone pats my hand and says, “God has someone out there for you,” or “Be patient, Prince Charming is just around that next corner.” Well, I suppose he could be, but then I’m not convinced anyone has a direct hotline to Heaven where God tells them whether or not He has someone special lined up for me—and if so, when he will appear in my life.
The fact is that in human relationships—despite fairytale hopes and Harlequin fantasies—there are few guarantees. After years of missteps and disappointments, I have come to understand the danger in placing too much emphasis on one lateral special relationship, however sweet it ends up becoming. Because no relationship between fallible human beings can fulfill completely. It will always have its disappointments, its days of regret, its untenable loneliness of being inches away from each other physically while being galaxies apart emotionally. Such is the hazard of relationships in a fallen world.
But I do see in the Bible promises that lead me to believe that I can trust God to fulfill the deeper need I have for companionship—that of knowing and being known fully by the ultimate lover. While no one on terra firma can know me completely, God knows me from the inside out. My heart is right in there with the psalmist who begged, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts” (1). I want someone to get inside and accept the real me. That’s the root of my quest for deep, abiding relationship with people. How much better to find the perfect lover of my soul and to discover He both knows and accepts me. His response to my heart-cry to be known comes through loud and clear, “I have loved you with an everlasting love. I have drawn you with loving-kindness” (2).
Whoa. Love that is tender, filled with loving-kindness. Not a love with a time-expires notice, but a permanent love -- a passionate desire. I love the way Jesus put it, “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am … that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them” (3). Did you catch the passion of this lover of our souls? He wants us to be with Him for eternity, so we can experience the fullness of the love He has for us both now on earth and in the land beyond time. Later, John (who had walked with Jesus) penned these words, “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us” (4). I love that word: lavished. It speaks of richness, overflowing without restraint. That’s the brand of love God offers to those who choose relationship with Him.
God, who has the capacity and inclination to meet all our needs “according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus” (5), is the one special relationship that will never disappoint, never sour, never abandon (6). Turns out, He’s the one special relationship I’ve been seeking all along. If Prince Charming does show up, he’ll hold a special place in my heart, but he’ll never need to try to meet my deepest longings. Those are already covered by one truly amazing relationship with God Himself.
Why is Life so Hard Sometimes?
As the well known American humorist Erma Bombeck once said, “If life is a bowl of cherries, then what am I doing in the pits?”
We can all certainly relate can’t we? Let’s face it many times that’s exactly what life can be…THE PITS!
The truth of the matter is at this precise moment a universal "battle of the wills" is going on. And if you happen to be one who is insisting on having your "own will" then your world is the way it is, because it's the world you have, in a sense, asked for.
Remember the story of Adam and Eve? God instructed them to only eat from the Tree of Life, and not partake of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil? So what did they do? They ate the forbidden fruit in spite of His warning. They "willfully" partook of that fruit with the idea that they could ignore what He said and strike out on a life apart from Him.
Adam and Eve figured that they could become like God...without God! They were of the notion that there was something more valuable in existence than God himself, something more valuable than having a personal relationship with God. And this world system, as we know it today, with all of its faults and evils, is a direct result of the choice they made.
Their story is the story of all of us isn't it? Who hasn't at some time said, (if not out loud) at least in their heart, "God, I think I can take it from here. I'll just go this one alone. I appreciate your offer, but I think I have a good handle on things now." And off we go, trying to make our life "work" without any help from God.
And what is God's response? He allows it.
He lets us have the very thing we insist upon. All the while, like a loving Father becomes deeply pained and grieved, as He is forced to watch his head-strong child walk directly into one disastrous situation after another, knowing full well what lies ahead.
The result? We end up experiencing the very painful consequences of others' or our own willful actions that run contrary to God's will. Things such as killing, stealing, lying, greed, adultery, sexual abuse, murder, hatred, war and on and on it goes, this being the direct result of people refusing to give God access and influence over their lives. They go about living life as they see fit, and end up suffering terribly because of it.
"We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way." (The Bible,Isaiah 53:6)
So what is God's solution to mankind's awful dilemma? He sent His own beloved Son, Jesus Christ to show us the way "back" to Himself.
"For God sent His Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him. For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life." (John 3:17, 16).
Jesus said, "Come to me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest." (Matthew 11:28)
In the midst of our difficulties, we can have the peace of knowing that Christ is with us -- and He gives us strength to overcome the challenges, and His joy and peace in the midst of the storm.
Jesus said, "These things I have spoken to you, so that in me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world." (John 16:33).
So, Where's the Peace?
When you look at our world and see conflict of all kinds, it’s difficult to understand how the Bible can refer to Jesus as Prince of Peace. It seems there is some form of violence, terrorism, injustice, or hatred present in almost every country in the world.
So did Jesus fail in the “peace” portion of His mission? If He’s really the Prince of Peace, why is life filled with so much turmoil?
Let’s start by realizing our human perspective is not God’s viewpoint. Just as Jesus’ followers hoped and waited for Him to take an earthly throne as a king, we’re often thinking and expecting world peace from the Prince of Peace. Micah 5:5 says, “And he [Jesus] will be their peace,” meaning Jesus is peace. But how? How does a person embody an intangible quality like peace?
Here are some ways Jesus is peace:
- Reconciliation – The Bible doesn’t promise world peace. In fact, Jesus said not to be surprised when we hear about current fighting and potential wars. Peace comes in a relationship with God, through Jesus. We experience peace of mind and heart knowing we are no longer separated from God by our sin. Ephesians 2:14 calls the barrier between God and us “the dividing wall of hostility.” If you’ve ever experienced being in a hostile relationship, you know how uncomfortable you feel. The uncertainty of being on God’s “bad side” and the guilt of sin are replaced with peace, made possible because of Jesus’ death. Jesus stands as a bridge between God and us. Through confession and repentance we are accepted as God’s children.
- Freedom from Fear – Fear is one of Satan’s greatest weapons to rob us of peace. Troubled hearts are those consumed by worry. Fear distracts us from hearing and obeying God. Many people experience fear in almost every area of life because they are trying to do things in their own strength and “make” things happen. Jesus instructs us, “Don’t let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:27). Because Jesus took the penalty for our sins, we no longer have to fear God’s anger and judgment. We also don’t have to fear the future because God has a plan and purpose for our lives (Jeremiah 29:11).
- Hope – Often we get so involved in looking at circumstances and bad things happening around us that we begin to feel nothing will ever go “our way.” Jesus reminds us in John 16:33 that we could expect trouble in this life. Sometimes people get the mistaken idea that being a Christian equals an easy life. That’s not always the case. But despite difficult circumstances, Jesus tells us to “Take heart! I have overcome the world.” Although it may be hard for us to realize, the ultimate battle with sin and death is over. Jesus won the war when He was crucified on the cross and came back to life. Therefore, we have reason for great joy and hope.
- Security – Sometimes it’s hard for us to feel safe and secure when we’re surrounded by wars, rumors of wars, and terrorist acts here in our own country. But the peace we have in our hearts through a relationship with Jesus Christ gives us the assurance that no matter what happens in this world, we are eternally secure in Christ. We don’t have to wonder what comes after death. Jesus’ legacy is peace. He promised His followers, and that includes us today, that even though He was returning to heaven, He was leaving His peace. Not peace as the world describes it, but spiritual peace (John 14:27).
Is Life Always Going To Be A Challenge?
I hate to burst your bubble, but yes, life is always going to be a challenge. But there’s good news: some days will be better than others!
Why does life have to be so tough? People are imperfect (with sin) and basically selfish and proud, and seek to serve themselves rather than God.
I had this misguided idea that once I acknowledged Christ as the leader of my life (also referred to as “Becoming a Christian” or “Being saved”) my life in the land of milk and honey would be trouble free. Well, I was wrong. Being a Christian isn’t a guarantee of a trouble free and perfect life.
But it is life full of promises, one of the greatest being that I will never be alone. God promised both in the Old Testament (Joshua 1:5) and the New Testament (Hebrews 13:5) that He would never leave us or forsake us.
As a matter of fact, God also directly addresses this issue of a challenging life. In Matthew 6:34 Jesus states, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” There you have it, even Jesus Christ acknowledged that each day will have enough trouble of its own, acknowledging there is trouble and that is simply a fact of life.
This got easier for me to accept when I really started believing God was available to me 24/7, that He wouldn’t leave me or forsake me. And that my communication with Him wasn’t just one way, (either the perception that He was telling me what to do, or that I could go to Him with nothing but favors) but I could go to Him in dynamic communication which includes questions, misgivings, rantings and ravings in addition to praise and thanks.
So, yes, life in this imperfect world with imperfect people will always be a challenge, but as long as I remember I don’t have to mutter and complain to myself but I can talk directly to God those challenges are a little bit easier to swallow.
Should Christians Fight in War?
What about all the wars that have been fought in the name of Christianity?
Whenever this question is asked, the implication seems to be that war in the name of Christ is contrary to His mandate to “turn the other cheek” (Matthew 5:39).
Otherwise, why would anyone argue with the right to fight a religious war? To understand the “big picture,” we must first understand that the “turn the other cheek” passage is part of the Sermon on the Mount. Its messages pertain to individual believers. His famous sermon shows how believers should respond to temptation, injustice, and the everyday trials of life. It says nothing about warfare.
For some instruction regarding this, we must go to Romans 13, which discusses some of the purposes of government as well as the proper relationship between believers and government:
"… F or it [government] is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath upon the one who practices evil." (Romans 13:4)
God has given the state the power of life and death over its subjects in order to maintain order. Government also has the right to protect its people from evil by wielding the same “sword” in warfare. Some will argue that God has commanded, “Thou shall not kill.”
Therefore Christians cannot engage in warfare. Actually, God’s command was against murder, not killing. Nowhere does the Bible say that believers should not join the military and thus, should not participate in defending their country. Numbers 25:8-13 is one of many Biblical accounts where killing was required to eradicate sin. However, the bottom line is that while the God of the Bible is a righteous judge, He is also a God of love and mercy Who detests the shedding of innocent human blood.
Having laid this background, let’s look at what I believe is at the heart of the question—the atrocities committed in the name of Christianity—the Crusades, the Pogroms, the Holocaust, and the Inquisitions. While one could justify the Crusades as a response to the Muslim invasion of the Holy Land, there is no justification for the wholesale slaughter of Jews, or for the killing of “Christian brothers” along the way because their attire and customs were “different.”
Defending innocent lives or even a holy site is justifiable. However, campaigns to eradicate an enemy or a race (the Jews) are indefensible. Those alive today whose families have been affected by any of these tragedies don’t really care if the perpetrators (or bystanders) were truly Christians. The simple truth is that Christians today need to ask forgiveness for all the blood shed in the name of Christianity.
When it comes to violence in the name of religion, Christianity is often compared to Islam. One could conclude that they are both equally guilty when it comes to bloodshed. Here’s the difference. All of the events listed above are an embarrassment to Christianity. Everything that happened was in direct violation to the teachings of the Bible. In contrast, every battle fought by believers in Allah, however brutal and bloody, was done with the blessing of the Koran. Followers of Allah must kill the infidels (unbelievers) in order to go to heaven. Followers of Jesus are commanded to love their enemies because they (Jesus’ followers) are assured of a place in heaven, and God wants even His enemies to be there, too.
Will Life Always Be Challenging
Is life always going to be a daily challenge?
Yes, life will always have daily challenges because we’re not in heaven yet. But there’s good news: We don’t have to carry the challenges by ourselves.
Although Creation was once perfect, Adam and Eve chose to disobey God and sin entered the world. We’re still experiencing the consequences of their sin today. Genesis 3:17b says, “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life.”
But there is hope. Romans 5:8 tells us that “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
God’s Spirit lives in those who put their complete trust in Jesus Christ, and that makes a big difference in how they view life.
Joshua 1:5b says, “I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.”
So, no matter how difficult your challenges may get, the Creator of the Universe desires to walk with you along life’s journey.
If you were going on a long trip, you’d probably pack one or two suitcases. Would you put your heavy luggage on your lap and drive yourself to the airport? Of course not. Instead you’d toss your bags into the trunk and allow the car’s powerful engine to transport them. But you and your luggage wouldn’t go anywhere if you didn’t first turn on the ignition.
While you are living in this world, the God of the Universe offers to carry your burdens. Although His power is incomprehensible, He will not force himself on you. You have to, in a sense, “turn on the ignition” and put your faith in Him.
As long as you live in this world, only you can decide who will carry your challenges each week … each day … each moment. If you want to carry life’s burdens alone, God will let you.
Someday, you will leave your earthly home for a never-ending destination. If you are a true follower of Jesus Christ, you can look forward to dwelling with God forever in heaven where there will be no challenges. Unlike Earth, it is a perfect place!