Make Christianity Hard Again

The ironic part is that Christianity is difficult. The way of Jesus is the way of the cross. So don’t talk about it like we just need to be nice people. 

I grew up in a very interesting strain of Christianity. Now, I don’t know if this was the explicit teaching of my church or just what I felt, but it seemed like the overall message of a Christian’s duty was, “don’t sin, attend church, read your Bible, and tell others about Jesus.”
Now, all of those are incredibly important things. But I think what tended to happen was telling people about Jesus was paralyzingly scary, mostly because most of us didn’t know where to begin. (Do you hand them a tract? ask them if they know where they will go when they die? Just be kind around them until they ask you about your faith?) Church became routine, the Bible became something to know, and the sins we were supposed to avoid ended up being relegated to avoiding “big sins” (a category in which I tended to move the goalposts a lot).
But when you treat Christianity like that, it is actually not very difficult. Just be a generally nice person. But the real problem with this type of Christianity is that it becomes eye-wateringly boring. You don’t actually have too much to do. Maybe you block out your Sunday mornings and your Wednesday nights. But the rest of your life you functionally live like a fairly moral non-christian.
So, my hunch is that most people with this vision of Christianity are not disengaged because it is really difficult. Rather, people disengage because this version of Christianity seems boring. Now it might seem like the solution to this is to try to make Christianity fun. But I think that is going in the wrong direction. I think that the right move is to make Christianity hard.

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Why Cosmology Matters

The Christian narrative starts with God, who is eternal, creating the universe. God creates people in his image, with particular purpose, moral codes, and values. Which accounts not only for our normal intuitions, but also explains other religions. Romans 1 says that God gave created things to humanity to be good gifts, and we turned them into gods.

“Actually, we believe that Christianity started at the creation of the world.”
I was going back and forth with one of my friends who was giving his account of why he didn’t believe in any religion. He spoke generally about the age of religions. About how Islam was predated by Christianity which was predated by Hinduism which was predated by various forms of paganism.
This is where I felt that I needed to interrupt him. India is a context where there are many coexisting religions. So there is power in a narrative that not only lays out your beliefs, but the reasons for the beliefs of those who don’t believe like you. And for that, you don’t just need moral systems, you need a cosmology.
Cosmology is just the story of how the world came to be. This matters because it frames all of our other discussions. And because culture is so pervasive, even in our own thoughts, we can assume the secular story without even realizing it. To say that Christianity begins in Genesis 1 is to derail the secular cosmology. It is to respectfully say, “you believe certain things about the nature of the universe that I do not believe, and both of us cannot be correct.”
The secular cosmological narrative goes something like this. There was the Big Bang, which started the universe. As the gas and pieces of rock cooled, they formed into galaxies, solar systems, and planets.
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Is It Complicated or is It Difficult?

Most things in the Christian life are not complex. We pray, we tell people that Jesus died for them, we read our Bibles, we fast, we attend church. But though those things are not complex, they are difficult. 

I have a Bible reading plan, four different Bible apps on my phone, the capability to listen to the Bible on audio, and around 7 paper Bibles. And I didn’t read my Bible the day before I started writing this post. Therefore, it would seem that the absence of the Bible in my life came not from a lack of resources, plans, or technology, but rather from a lack of discipline.
I think that this is important to point out, because often, when we moderns have a failure in our life, we tend to attribute it to not having the right tools. Now, tools are helpful, tools definitely can help you towards your goals, but tools without discipline are useless. We tend to think of things as complicated when they are really just hard. You are not gaining weight primarily because your watch doesn’t track your calories, you are gaining weight because you can’t stop eating what you know you should not be eating. Reading a finance blog may be helpful, but you don’t need to read one to realize that you can’t buy something for $120 when you have $100 in the bank.
I remember telling one of my friends what was necessary to be a good small group leader. It boiled down mainly to 1) pray for everyone in your group every day, and 2) call and check up on each one at regular intervals. All you need is a phone and your knees. But I struggled so much to do it simply because I wasn’t disciplined enough. And I think therein lies the secret to why we overcomplicate things so much.
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