14 things you (probably) didn’t know about Christianity, but really should

Nobody gets to heaven by being good, faith is not a blind leap and there’s much more evidence than you think. In this article from Premier Christianity magazine, Church leader Andrew Haslam clears up these and other common misconceptions about Christianity.

Most people I talk with who are not Christians have a lot of deep misconceptions about this religion. In a way, this is odd, given our rich Christian heritage in this country. But it also provides some great talking points in this otherwise (often) awkward subject of conversation. So, here’s my list of fourteen things you probably didn’t know about the Christian faith, but really should.

1. Churches are not buildings, and the buildings are (almost) unnecessary

A church is the people; a particular group that has come together to form a family despite often having zero things in common. This means that you could knock down all those old church buildings in Britain and the actual church (the group of people) would not be wiped out; arguably, it would flourish.

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Bob Goff: If We Avoid Being Identified With People We Disagree With, We’ve Traded in God’s Brand of Love for Popularity.

Jesus replied, “Let us go somewhere else—to the nearby villages—so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.”

MARK 1:38

Here’s a page from Bob Goff’s book of daily reflections, Live in Grace, Walk in Love:

A few of my best friends happen to be creative geniuses. Think Einstein with a paintbrush or a Moleskine making word-pictures. I’ve learned a lot about the power of well-told stories from them, but even better, I’ve watched them live beautiful lives. They’ve taught me we’re all constantly telling a story with the things we share online, the people we hang out with, the way we engage or react to the events around us, and the words we use. Brands are what cowboys put on cattle, not what we call our love. The way they engage their lives is more like a watermark. It’s something you only really see when you hold it up to the light.

These days, I pay more attention to people’s patterns than their statements. Some are like an all-night television show—all theology all the time. Others focus on business and making money. We each have our own metrics for how we define success and contribution to the world.

Have you noticed that someone will say something a certain group thinks is great but another group will tear it to shreds? Or maybe someone will have a bad day, and their tribe will send love and support for all to see, but those who have a different worldview are slow to encourage. They might even be a little combative or give off the impression that they are quietly delighting in the headwinds someone else is facing. It goes beyond these things.

Jesus invited us to walk in a different way. He wasn’t concerned with who people saw Him associate with. He was an image bearer, not an image maker. He was seen with religious leaders and loose women at the same events. He didn’t care about money or status. He cared about the state of people’s hearts. He showed us how to tear down the walls that divide us.

If we avoid being identified with people we disagree with, we join the crowds. We’ve traded in God’s brand of love for popularity. We’re just one more voice calling for Barabas. Be like Jesus instead. Stand in silence if you need to, but offer words of hope to all, whether you agree with them or not. Jesus was more concerned with seeing other people than managing how they saw Him.

What would be different if you cared less about your image and more about loving others?

Bob Goff: Live in Grace, Walk in Love

Bob Goff: Don’t Be ‘Right.’ Be Jesus.

These people come near to me with their mouth and honour me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is based on merely human rules they have been taught.

ISAIAH 29:13

Here’s a page from Bob Goff’s book of daily reflections, Live in Grace, Walk in Love:

We all know what it’s like to watch board game night with friends devolve into civil war. The beginning is always promising: someone brings up Pictionary or Charades and you split into teams, ready to laugh. Then it all takes a turn when someone with a competitive streak takes charge. Maybe they were cut from their middle school basketball team or have an axe to grind because they lost a board game when they were five. Whatever it is, the competitiveness fills the air in the room like a thick fog.

Rules emerge that no one knew about. Even the rules have rules. It’s no fun anymore. It quickly becomes obvious to everyone that being right isn’t as important as being together. What happened? It’s simple. The purpose of the game is to enjoy one another, not to win. If someone takes it too seriously, they ruin it for everyone.

Life works the same way. We can be so consumed with being “right” that we miss the opportunity to just be together. Humble people stay quiet when speaking up might cost them a friend. They know life isn’t a competition. There’s no winner or loser in God’s family because everyone has access to infinite love and grace. There are no more chips we can collect or play money to hoard. Don’t trade a dozen great relationships for a few unverified rules.

Here’s a pro tip: Don’t be “right”; be Jesus. Be the one who brings people together and is self-aware enough to know that the purpose of our lives is to lift everyone up, not put people down.

What would change if you cared more about being loving than being right?

Bob Goff: Live in Grace, Walk in Love

Dane Ortland: I Will Never Cast Out

Here is a passage from the sixth Chapter of Dane Ortland’s book, Gentle and Lowly.

Whoever comes to me I will never cast out.

John 6:37

Everything that Thomas Goodwin and John Owen were— erudite, well-educated, analytical, at home in the world’s best universities—John Bunyan wasn’t. Bunyan was poor and uneducated.  By the world’s standards, everything was against Bunyan’s making a lasting impact on human history. But this is just how the Lord  delights to work— taking the side-lined and the overlooked and  giving them quietly pivotal roles in the unfolding of redemptive  history. And Bunyan, though much earthier in writing style, shared Goodwin’s ability to open up the heart of Christ to his readers. Bunyan is most famous for The Pilgrim’s Progress, which is, besides the Bible, history’s best-selling book. But he also authored fifty seven other books. One of the loveliest is Come and Welcome to Jesus Christ, written in 1678. The warmth of the title is representative of the entire treatise. In typical Puritan style, Bunyan took a single verse and wrote a whole book on it, reflecting on it at length. That verse, for Come and Welcome to Jesus Christ, was John 6:37. In the  course of pronouncing himself the bread of life given to the spiritually hungry (John 6:32–40), Jesus declares: 

All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes  to me I will never cast out. 

It was one of Bunyan’s favorite verses, as evident from how often  he cites it throughout his writings. But in this particular book he  takes the text and zeroes in on it, looking at it from every angle,  wringing it dry. 

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Bob Goff: Acquaintances Will Know Us for What We’ve Done. Friends Will Remember Us for How We Loved

A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity.


Here’s a page from Bob Goff’s book of daily reflections, Live in Grace, Walk in Love:

It’s always a little strange to hear someone introduce a person by reading a long biography at an event. Bios like this are usually lists of the most impressive things they’ve done, credentials they have, and recognition they’ve received. The idea is to tell people why the speaker is qualified, why they deserve our attention for the next twenty or thirty minutes, and why they are an authority we should trust on a subject. But I always wish the bios sounded more like something a friend would write. I wish they sounded more like a wedding toast.

When friends describe us, they share stories of how we dropped everything to be with them when they lost someone they couldn’t imagine life without. They usually slip in an embarrassing story of a mistake we made during a time in our lives we’re still trying to forget, and they always talk about how well we loved the people around us. You don’t hear many highlights from their résumé and their education or degrees or title. You just hear about love and friendship.

Acquaintances will know us for what we did. They’ll know about the nonprofit we started or the award we received. They might even know about our reputation for being kind and gracious. None of this is bad, of course. These are stories about our lives. They just don’t have the same weight as stories from our lives. Friends will remember us for how we loved. They’ll be impressed by our accomplishments only because they know the heart behind our actions.

Keep in mind, we’ll be known for our opinions, but we’ll be remembered for our love. I can think of no better introduction, no better bio, than for people to say our greatest expression of love in the world was that we were a faithful friend.

What expression of friendship have you received this week?

Bob Goff: Live in Grace, Walk in Love

John Stott: What every Christian should know about this unlikely radical

Today is the Centenary of the Birth of John Stott. This article, originally published in Premier Christianity magazine, reflects on the global impact of this Anglican priest and theologian.

The reaction to John Stott’s death in 2011 at the age of 90 was extraordinary. The news was covered on the BBC, in every UK broadsheet and across the world’s media, includingThe New York Times. The Archbishop of Canterbury at the time, Rowan Williams, noted that: “The death of John Stott will be mourned by countless Christians throughout the world. During a long life of unsparing service and witness, John won a unique place in the hearts of all who encountered him, whether in person or through his many books.” In a statement, the American evangelist Billy Graham said: “The evangelical world has lost one of its greatest spokesmen, and I have lost one of my closest friends and advisors.”  

It was not only in death that Stott’s influence and leadership were recognised. During his lifetime, Church historian and Provost of Southwark, David Edwards, described him, aside from former Archbishop William Temple, as “the most influential clergyman in the Church of England during the 20th century”. In 2005 Time magazine ranked Stott among the 100 most influential people in the world. 

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