Jesus

You Don’t Have to Live Like a Nun or Monk to be a True Christian

Far too many people, especially young people, are being turned off by Christianity because too many preachers are making it seem like they have to live like a nun or monk to be a true Christian.  Before you listen to what a preacher has to say about how to live a true Christian life, begin to read your bible for yourself.  There are a number of translations of the bible available for you—pick the translation or translations that work for you.  Don’t simply read your bible but study it.  Purchase biblical study aids that will enrich your study and give you deeper understandings of God’s word.  Read and study your bible for yourself!

Now, I’m not suggesting at all that you should not go to church and listen to the teaching and preaching of a man of God.  You should go to church and listen to the teaching and preaching of a man of God to accompany your reading and studying of the bible.  Just don’t let the teaching and preaching the man of God does be your only engagement with the bible.  In fact, God commands each person to study His word to “show thyself approved.”

Many young people feel like being a true Christian is simply too difficult because preachers make it seem almost like they cannot do anything, especially anything that’s fun.  I want to let young people know that you can have fun and still be a true Christian.  Of course, there are clear things that the bible point out that you cannot do, but there is so much more that you can do while you enjoy a personal relationship with God.

Although many preachers believe that it’s a sin to listen to non-Gospel music, such as rap and pop music, I want you to challenge them to give you some substantive teaching about how this is a sin.  Don’t simply let them rap one, two, or three scriptures to you—challenge them to give you some true and deep biblical teaching about this subject.  What you will discover is they will not be able to offer you much bible-based teaching about this subject.  However, I want you to be on high alert for them to attempt to present their personal opinions and preferences as if they are grounded in the scriptures and biblical principles.  You don’t want to be living your life based on someone’s opinions—live your life based on what God’s word truly says.  Don’t let preachers shame you out of listening to non-Gospel music by telling you that non-Gospel music is “the Devil’s music.”  “The Devil’s music”?  Really?  Some Gospel songs can be far more depressing and damaging than many non-Gospel songs.

When preachers tell you that you cannot go to the movies, I want you to challenge them on this subject in the same way I have discussed about challenging them on their opposition to you listening to non-Gospel music.  You can be a true Christian and go to the movies.

Now, if you do want to be a nun or monk, I applaud you for wanting to live a life of this type.  However, for those who don’t want to be a nun or monk, I want you to know that you can live a victorious and saved life in this present world and have tons of fun!  You don’t have to be a “bible thumper” to go to Heaven and you don’t have to talk about God every second in order to make it into Heaven.

Don’t miss out on the full life that you can be living simply because you failed to read and study your bible and only listened to what your pastor had to say about the bible.  At the end of the day, your pastors are men of God but they are still human beings, and, as we all know, all human beings are not perfect and do make mistakes.  Being a Christian means that you are a personal follower of Christ.  Your pastor cannot live your walk with God for you—you have to live your walk with Christ for yourself.

In no way should this article be perceived as an attack on any preacher, but it’s more of a call for people to realize that they need to experience God for themselves, and one of the most intimate and meaningful ways to experience God for yourself is to read and study His word for yourself.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Easter’s Rebirth and Death Messages

Easter is a holiday widely celebrated not only in America but across the globe. It’s a holiday that honors the resurrection of Jesus. God sacrificed his son’s life to atone for the sins of the world.  Jesus died so that we can live again. I do not want to offer you a traditional Easter speech or sermon, however.

There are meaningful messages in the narrative about Jesus being reborn after dying that can be useful for anyone, even for atheists. If we would simply look at Easter’s messages of rebirth and death, we would all be able to make significant strides toward immense self-improvement. Although human beings are not able to physically die and return to life again here on Earth, we need to experience many metaphorical deaths and rebirths. There are many areas in your life where you have things that you need to bury and experience Christ-like rebirth of those things in your life. By Christ-like rebirth, I mean doing away with things that are not productive in your life and replacing those things with things that are going to promote eternal growth in your life.

Thinking about rebirth and death can be quite unsettling for many people. Many people don’t want to even consider thinking about death. Although thinking about your literal death can be a vexing psychic exercise, many will find metaphorical deaths to be just as difficult to contemplate as literal deaths.

When you have to think about giving up some of the habits that you cannot break that are destroying you, this can be very unnerving. You need to realize when you have some habits that need to be buried and replaced with some more productive habits. For instance, if you think that you have to smoke marijuana every day, then you need to bury this habit and replace it with a habit that will lead you to a healthier treatment of your body. You cannot expect to keep smoking marijuana all of your life and then anticipate positive health outcomes. Smoking marijuana each day is simply moving you closer to death. Instead of smoking weed each day, bury the marijuana and let your body experience a rebirth by working out nearly every day. Can you even imagine how better you will feel when you eliminate marijuana from your life and replace it with working out?

While you may say that you don’t have any problems with marijuana, what about those problems you have with low expectations and negative thoughts? What about those problems you have with believing in yourself to be able to do great things? What about your willingness to succumb to doubt too easily? What about your problems with becoming so easily frustrated? If you have any of those aforementioned problems, then it’s time for you to bury these negative things. Experience a rebirth in your thinking. Cast out negative thoughts, doubts, and low expectations. Have a willingness to dream about what you want in your life that others simply think is impossible. Bury those relationships with people who don’t believe in your dreams and your potential. When you are around negative people, they won’t do anything for you but bring you down. They will have an unwillingness to believe in your ability to do anything that is not within their limited vision of what they think is possible for you.

It’s time for you to bury silly economic practices that have you flooded with debt. If you know that you cannot afford to go out to the club and buy drinks every weekend, then why would you keep doing this? At some point you have to face the fact that what you are doing is simply stupid! Begin to invest your money in things that are going to yield significant returns. Start saving more of your money. Your finances need to benefit from an economic revival. You’re not going to witness an economic revival if you are spending every dime that you have. It can be quite beneficial for you to sit back and think about how what you spend your money on says about who you are.

For those who pretend that they have salvation but know that they are not living a holy and separated life from this present world, then it’s time for you to bury your sins and make a solemn and renewed commitment to God.  Your spiritual life needs a rebirth if you find that you’re saved today, unsaved tomorrow, saved the next day, and unsaved the day after that. Be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you can experience the fullness of God and live a truly victorious life through Jesus Christ.

You have many things about yourself that need to be buried. You have to be willing to muster the courage to bury those things in your life. While you can get help with burying some of the things in your life that need burying, many of the things you are going to have to bury on your own. If you are a Christian, God can give you the strength that you need to do some essential burying of things in your life. When Christ comes into your life, He helps you to bury many of the unclean things in your life.

Take the necessary time to get rid of all of the trash in your life and experience a rebirth of a more refined you.

On this Easter Sunday, I want us to think about the need to experience many metaphorical deaths and metaphorical rebirths in our lives. This juxtaposition of rebirth and death can make us better human beings who live much more fulfilling and productive lives. Let’s learn how to die so that we might have a chance to be reborn!

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison