It seems that our whole world has changed in the last couple of months with the global pandemic situation. Our routines and activities have changed drastically. Our attitudes and priorities have shifted. Even our vocabulary has been impacted.
One word that has come to the forefront of our consciousness is the word essential. We now talk about essential jobs, essential employees, essential businesses, essential products, essential activities, essential travel, and the like. What constitutes “essential” has become a source of constant discussion and frustration. It has become a topic for argument and debate. It has even turned into the basis for organized protests.
We have had to boil our activities down to a level of necessity that we had never considered before. Clearly, the word essential has recently taken on monumental importance in our day-to-day lives.
But what about our spiritual lives?
Does essential have a place in our spiritual discussions? Is there a context for its usage in terms of our Christian faith?
Well, I’ve never heard it used that way. I don’t ever remember hearing it used in church. But I’ve never heard it used in a lot of contexts before now. That was then; this is now.
Maybe the time is right to boil our Christian faith down to a level beyond what we typically encounter in the spiritual arena.
Maybe there are people that have been discouraged from exploring matters of faith because it all seems too overwhelming.
Maybe we have confused people by portraying things that are spiritually desirable and important as being things that are spiritually essential.
Maybe we have unintentionally made the connecting point to Christ a barrier too difficult for some people to consider.
Maybe it is time to acknowledge that the one essential element of Christianity is Christ.
Godly social, political, and spiritual agendas are important, but Christ is essential!
As we have seen in many areas of our lives, there are things that we have looked on as essential that have now proven instead to be desirable and important, but not essential.
Hair appointments, eating out, gym workouts, in-person doctor visits, and corporate church services all fall in this category. All of them have desirable and important places in our lives, but we have found that they are not absolutely essential. We want and need to get back to them as soon as possible. Our lives are not as fulfilled and abundant without them. But we will now have had to admit that they are not essential!
Likewise, there are multitudes of things that are desirable and important to our spiritual lives that may not be essential. Without them, we will never have the abundant and fulfilled life that Jesus promised. We really do need them in our life, but they do not compare with the need for Christ in our life. The need for Christ in our life blows past any other need. It is the one absolutely essential need. None of the other spiritual needs have relevance until this need is met.
We cannot contend that we are Christians without Christ in our lives.
He alone is the essential element of the Christian faith. We cannot allow any other spiritual agenda to interfere with or hinder the presence of the essential Christ in our lives.
So how do we uncomplicate our faith?
How do we boil it down so that the essential is met before we try to address the important and desirable?
How do we remove any agendas that may be preventing us or someone we know from coming to faith in Christ?
How do we assure that our faith is a Christ driven faith instead of an agenda driven faith?
What are the essentials of faith in Christ?
It seems to me that we can boil the essentials of faith in Christ down to a couple of beliefs, a couple of “rules”, and a couple of words.
A couple of essential beliefs:
1. First, we must acknowledge our need for a Savior. Nothing else works without our recognition that we have sinned and that we need a Savior. First things must come first.
2. Then we must recognize that Jesus Christ is that Savior. We don’t have to understand all the details of how that worked, but we must accept the fact that it did work. We must choose to accept that His death on the Cross was the act that established Him as our Savior. Without that genuine belief, there is no genuine Christianity.
A couple of essential rules:
Jesus himself boiled down the cluster of rules that we perceive as religion to two simple “rules”. He has already determined the essential “rules” for us. We don’t have to boil them down ourselves or figure them out. Any other “rules” that would hinder us from faith in Christ are misguided.
1. Love God. This “rule” can seem intimidating until we realize the depth of His love for us. At first, we must concentrate on the fact that we are loved and accepted by Him and then our love for Him can evolve out of His love for us.
2. Love others. This one takes a little time and practice. We must continuously ask ourselves what love requires of us in any given situation. And we must strive to put that answer into practice.
A couple of essential words:
1. Follow Me. The essence of our relationship with Christ is his two words Follow and me. Take time to observe the words, actions, and attitudes of Jesus in the following books of Bible: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Then try to take a step at a time to align your words, actions, and attitudes closer to those of Jesus. When we follow his steps, we will always be headed in the right direction.
Whether the things of Jesus have never been a part of your life or whether you have been a follower of Christ for many years, there is always a need to focus, or refocus, on Jesus. He alone is the object of our faith. He alone is the essential element of what we call Christianity:
There are many spiritual lessons for us to learn.
There are many spiritual guidelines for our benefit.
There are many spiritual agendas that are worthy and righteous.
There are many spiritual and godly things that are important and desirable.
But there is only one Jesus, and he is the one absolute essential in our lives! Focus on that and all of the other things will fall into their proper place.