samedi 29 novembre 2003

Last speel of the month

I am so beat. We had our Christmas banquet last night as well as our after-banquet party. I didn't get home until three in the morning and I was so exhausted that I slept in until this afternoon. I only have a week of classes left but I am so behind on everything. And I have absolutely no energy left in me to do anything, much less study or do homework. Being on the net has probably kept me from falling asleep again.

I really appreciate all of the classes I have been taking, especially New Religious Movements. I'm going to share some verses that have impacted me greatly in this course:

"See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ. For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority. In him you were also circumcised, in the putting off of the sinful nature, not with a circumcision done by the hands of men but with the circumcision done by Christ, having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead. When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcised of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross."
- Colossians 2:8-15

The book of Colossians was a letter that Paul wrote to combat the Gnostic beliefs that were prevalent in the town of Colossae. These people believed that salvation was dependent on achieving special knowledge. I'm not going to be spending too much time here on gnosticism but I just wanted to provide the context in which Paul wrote these verses.

Anyways, learning about all of these new religions and the New Age movement has helped me appreciate my faith even more. For people who claim that Christianity is the same as every other religion out there, I would have to say it's not. And believe me, I know what I'm talking about. I grew up in a different religion than Christianity and now that I am a Christian, I know the differences and I can testify to them.

What's so amazing about Jesus then? He is radically different from anything this world has seen before. To be a Christian is not to do things of our own efforts. Our salvation does not come from doing things or performing human traditions. We don't rack up our status by being baptized, taking communion, counting our prayers, making a list of our good deeds or reading the Bible everyday (keep in mind I'm talking about earning our salvation through these methods). We can't do anything ourselves. Seriously, is there any human being on earth who would be able to do enough of these to save his soul? To the point where it would be guaranteed completely and he would know for sure that he made it to heaven? No!! There is no assurance in performing human tasks! This philosophy that we can is false. No, we have no choice but to admit that there is nothing we can do to attain God's favour.

Yet we aren't despairing because we don't have hope! Rather we have Jesus Christ!! He is the only one we can depend on. Unlike all other religions, we do not rely on ourselves, or anything within us. We rely on Jesus! That is completely different from other religions where we would have to follow some mandates and obey some steps to save our soul. With Jesus, we don't need to follow the Five Pillars or the Nine Steps to Enlightenment or reach nirvana within ourselves or break through to the pinnacle of our thinking. No, He has done everything for us already that we need to be saved.

I love that Paul says, not with a circumcision done by the hands of men but with the circumcision done by Christ. Done by Christ. We are utterly dependent on Him. God doesn't need us to say three prayers a day or abstain from certain food or anything like that. All we need to do is accept what Jesus has done for us out of the free will that we have. Everything else that we do (pray, read the Bible, help others) flows out of our new life in Christ. They come as an "after" to our life, not as a "before".

All of the rules that are imposed on people in religions stand opposed to people, for who is able to fulfill all these regulations? They count against us, not for us. They are a trap, binding us into a written code that we think we need to follow in order to make it to heaven. Think about it, all of these beliefs say that YOU need to do something, YOU need to not do this or that and then you'll make it. Essentially, you become your own Saviour through this.

But then comes the twist. Christ makes a public spectacle of all of these through the cross. It is through His crucifixion that His Lordship is declared to the world. People don't need to rely on keeping the rules or keeping the observations any longer in order to be "safe". HE is the Saviour! We trust in Him and what He has done.

This is another reason why Christianity is different from all the other religions. We don't need to be one of the selected few who has been able to follow all the rules or gained enough knowledge to save ourselves. There is no initiation or process that is mandatory for us to continue further in our religion. All that is needed is an acceptance of Christ's Lordship. It is because of this that Christ is available to any who call on Him. It is not limited to the rich, the intellectual, or the elite. This is what struck me the most: you don't have to be smart enough to be saved, whereas gnosticism and a lot of other belief systems who have roots in that emphasize that you need to have enough knowledge and information to be.

Remember when I had to read "The Celestine Prophecy"? It was all about attaining each of the secrets in the manuscript and knowing enough to understand them and put them into use. A lot of religions are like this, where the amount of knowledge you have gained is connected to your salvation. But Jesus is not about this! Yes, we have the Bible, but we read that to understand God better. We don't read it because it'll score us brownie points or take us to the next level of heaven.

I hope this didn't come across as an excuse for Christians not to do anything. When we accept Jesus as Lord, that changes our lives and that compels us to do things for Him - but these acts are for His glory, not ours. It is only through God's amazing grace that we can even do these at all! Thank You Jesus that we are saved by what You have done. Thank You that the things we do are for You as expressions of Your love for us, and that they are not things we do to earn our way with You. You have paid the price. We do not need to add anything to that perfect and complete sacrifice.

[Listening to: Do What You Say - The Benjamin Gate - Contact Disc 1 (02:39)]

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