Step 1: Realise there is no such thing as a perfect Christian. If you’re thinking or acting like you are one, stoppit!
Step 2: Own your crap. Don’t pretend to be who you’re not. But also don’t be satisfied with being who you are. You are on a journey of sanctification which is really just a big old bibley words for ‘being honed, chiselled, formed, improved’ and made to look more like Jesus. It’s a lifelong journey so never think you’ve arrived and always keep asking, “What next do i surrender to God?” He is really great at dealing with your crap and turning it into chocolate-encrusted diamonds Chocolate-encrusted diamonds would be gross. Stop chasing after diamonds. God’s better is much better. Trust God on that one.
Step 3: Be who you say you are. Be who you believe you are. Be who the Bible says you are. Jesus repeatedly took on the religious people of His day for being hypocrites, focusing on the outward appearance and behaviour at the expense of the inward thought and heart life. It is okay to focus on outward appearance and behaviour, but keep it consistent with what is going on inside. And if you make the inside look good, the outside will show it off, believe me.
Step 4: Love God, love people. Because greatest command, duh! How do we know if we’re doing that? Well, if you’re holding up a ‘God hates fags sign’ and ask yourself, ‘Is this loving people?’ and you hesitate at all in coming to the conclusion, give yourself a slap cos spare the rod and all.
Step 5: If you want to take on the government to fight for the right to hit your children in any way, shape or form because of one or two obscure proverbs in the Old Testament that you would do good to study in the context of ‘How do we read and apply the Proverbs to our lives?’ then you have my absolute blessing, BUT ONLY if you’re taking the apparently 2350 verses on Money in the Bible seriously and the roughly 1 in 10 verses on poverty and the poor seriously. Because seriously, just go and stand in front of the mirror right now and pose yourself this question while looking yourself in the eye: There are at the biggest squeeze where i am really reaching for it, less then ten verses that suggest hitting my kid is an acceptable and necessary form of discipline in the bible and literally a third or more of the bible is about the poor, handling money well, caring for the least of these, being a good steward of the earth and my possessions, which of these should i be putting the most emphasis of my life towards dealing with?
If the answer is hitting my kid then hit yourself because you are using the reasoning of a child and you seem to think hitting them is okay.
If you have honestly stood before God and asked God how to live your life well and God has responded with:
Look after the poor and marginalised. Love your enemy. Look after the widow and orphan. Train up a child in the way she should grow and when he is old she will not depart from it. Love your neighbour as you love yourself. Seek first God’s kingdom and God’s righteousness. Hitting your child is an acceptable form of discipline. Be still and know that I am God. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind. Blessed are the poor in spirit. Blessed are those who mourn. Blessed are the meek. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness. Blessed are the merciful. Blessed are the pure in heart. Blessed are the peacemakers. Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves, do what it says. Whoever claims to live in Him must walk as Jesus did.
…and you walk away thinking, ‘Sho, God really wants me to focus on making sure this hitting kids thing happens!’ then you should seriously consider your life choices.
Sure, it might be both/and, but wow is that AND really huge and worth so much more of your lived out attention.
Step 6: If what you believe does not spill out into every area of how you live and inform every aspect of your life, then the news flash for you is that you don’t really believe it.
Step 7: Love God, love people. i know we touched on this one, but the law and prophets really do seem to hang on this one and if you can get this one 100% right then i guarantee you, every single other thing will fall into place.
There are no perfect Christ-following people, but there are honest ones who responded to Jesus when He said, “If you want to follow Me, then deny yourself, take up your cross daily and follow Me.” [Luke 9.24]
If your Christianity is easy, i’m pretty convinced that you are likely doing it wrong. Following God was never ever easy in the Bible. And it hasn’t been for me. Certainly not in drought-affected violence-filled segregated Cape Town where i am called every day to read the newspaper through the lens of the bible and say, ‘Where do You want me to get involved?’
Lastly, if you’re following Jesus, the correct order will see Jesus being the one in front.
Let’s do this.