This post answers 40 questions about Christianity. I have been asked these questions by believers and non-believers in the Christian faith. Whenever appropriate, I add some quotes from the Bible or point to a passage you can look up to read more about the topic. The post is inspired by my own journey of faith, but also from observing active Christian faith, and, gratefully, the inspiration from the Holy Spirit.
Overview of Questions
About the Christian faith
- What does it mean to be a Christian?
- How do we become a Christian?
- What does it mean to be born-again?
- Why is the cross a Christian symbol?
- What is Christian baptism?
- What and when are the major Christian holidays?
- What do we celebrate on Christmas?
- What do we celebrate on Good Friday and Easter?
- What do we celebrate on Pentecost?
- Why do the dates of some of the Christian holidays change?
Jesus: His life and His teachings
- Who was and is Jesus?
- What happened in his physical childhood?
- What happened at and after the baptism?
- What is the Sermon on the Mount?
- What is the Lord’s prayer?
- Why are the Christian teachings so different from other ones?
- What are some of the parables of Jesus, and where can you find them?
- Why did Jesus speak in parables?
- What miracles did Jesus perform?
- What are the most important commandments?
Spiritual phases in the Christian journey
- How do our lives change when we become Christians?
- What are the spiritual phases in the Christian faith?
- What is the Incubation phase?
- What is the Newborn phase?
- What is the Childhood phase?
- What is the Transitions phase?
- What is the Adult phase?
- What is the Passive phase?
- How can we accelerate the faith journey?
- What are the risks of staying stagnant in our faith?
Living as a Christian
- Why is reading the Bible essential?
- Do we need to take the Bible literally?
- Which Bible should we read?
- Why should we pray to God?
- How should we pray to God?
- Which Christian church should I join?
- How are Christians expected to behave?
- What happens when fellow Christians do not accept guidance?
- What happens when we get rebuked?
- What is Love?
About the Christian faith
1. What does it mean to be a Christian?
Being a Christian means to be a follower of Jesus. This means we believe that Jesus
- is the son of God
- was spiritually conceived
- redeemed our sins through his death at the cross
- raised from the dead on the third day
- ascended to heaven and prepares the kingdom for our life after death
- sends us the holy spirit as a counselor
These beliefs have many implications, such as the power of hope, faith, and love. One of the most significant benefits of being a Christian is eternal life.
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. (John 3:16-17, NIV)
2. How do we become a Christian?
Becoming a Christian is easy. There are no classes to take, no tests to pass, no groups to join to become a Christian. We just need to decide that we want to believe in Jesus and follow him. The critical element is that becoming a Christian involves a decision. We cannot inherit being a Christian. Neither baptism as a baby, being raised by believers, or growing up in a Christian environment, makes us a Jesus follower. To become a Christian and benefit from the Holy Spirit, we need to say yes. We need to be born-again.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, that person is a new creation. (2 Corinthians 5:17, NIV)
3. What does it mean to be born-again?
Jesus answered this question in his discourse with Nicodemus, the Pharisee. Hence, when we talk about being born again, we do not talk about a physical birth but the spiritual event when we accept Jesus into our hearts. It is a requirement to see the kingdom of God.
Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.”
“How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!”
Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” (John 3:3-8, NIV)
4. Why is the cross a Christian symbol?
Jesus was crucified on the cross. Through the crucifixion, he redeemed our sins so we can get eternal life. Without his sacrifice, we would have to be flawless and behave correctly at all times to get into heaven. Without the cross, there would be no Christianity. There is no heaven without the cross.
God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished—he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus. (Romans 3:25-26, NIV)
5. What is Christian baptism?
The Christian baptism not only symbolizes the acceptance of Jesus as our savior, but it also means that we receive the Holy Spirit as a counselor. While the baptism just after birth is practiced in many countries, it lacks an essential ingredient, the decision. It is a dedication by the parents than a statement of faith by the baptized. Hence, a renewal of the baptism as an adult should be considered.
“I [John] baptize you with water, but he [Jesus] will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” (Mark 1:8, NIV)
6. What and when are the major Christian holidays?
Christian holidays celebrate major stages of Jesus’ life: Christmas (December 25th), Good Friday, Easter, and Pentecost. They are described below. There are other celebrations which are seldom holidays. These include Palm Sunday (the day Jesus entered Jerusalem), Epiphany (the three wise men bringing gifts to the baby Jesus), Ash Wednesday (a day of fasting, 40 days before Easter).
Christmas always happens on December 25. The dates for the celebration for Good Friday, Easter, and Pentecost have no fixed dates although they are connected. From the Bible, we know that Jesus was crucified on the Friday before the Jewish Passover celebrations. He rose from the death on Passover. Hence, we celebrate Good Friday every year three days before Passover, Easter on Passover, and Pentecost seven Sundays after Easter.
7. What do we celebrate on Christmas?
On Christmas, we celebrate the birth of Jesus. He was born in Bethlehem in a manger to Mary and Joseph of Nazareth. The two had traveled to Bethlehem to be counted in the Census that was ordered by Caesar Augustus. All inns were full, and they could only find a roof over their head in the stable.
In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. And everyone went to their own town to register.
So, Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them. (Luke 2: 2-7)
The symbolism behind Jesus’ birth should not be lost. God’s son was born in a frail environment and protected only by God and the angels! God will always protect the poor, lost, and persecuted who believe in him!
8. What do we celebrate on Good Friday and Easter?
Jesus was crucified on Good Friday. The Pharisees wanted him killed because he threatened their power, status, influence, and economic situation. They tried to limit his impact through trickery and deception but always failed. Jesus fame grew with every miracle he performed. He drew large crowds wherever he went, preached a different faith, one of hope and future. He promised eternal life and refuted death. Moreover, He questioned the synagogues’ practices.
Through his crucifixion, Jesus redeemed our sins and made eternal life possible for us. Right after the execution, it seemed that Jesus could not be the son of God as he had claimed. However, the full meaning only became apparent three days later, on Easter, when his tomb was found empty, and Jesus had risen from death. He appeared and talked to his disciples on several occasions during Easter and Pentecost. Without Good Friday and Easter, which represent the atonement of our sins and the victory over death, the Christian faith would not exist.
When Jesus came out wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe, Pilate said to them, “Here is the man!” As soon as the chief priests and their officials saw him, they shouted, “Crucify! Crucify!” But Pilate answered, “You take him and crucify him. As for me, I find no basis for a charge against him.” The Jewish leaders insisted, “We have a law, and according to that law he must die, because he claimed to be the Son of God.” (John 19:5-7, NIV)
Finally, Pilate handed him over to them to be crucified. So the soldiers took charge of Jesus. Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull (which in Aramaic is called Golgotha). There they crucified him, and with him two others—one on each side and Jesus in the middle. Pilate had a notice prepared and fastened to the cross. It read: Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews. (John 19:16-19, NIV)
They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?” “They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus. He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?” Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.” Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”). Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” (John 20:13-17, NIV)
9. What do we celebrate on Pentecost?
Jesus appeared and talked to his disciples on several occasions after Easter. After he rose up to heaven, the Holy Spirit came down onto the disciples. The Holy Spirit is our counselor.
Throughout the latter part of the old testament, God promises that he will send us a counselor that stays within us. The relevance of the Holy Spirit is that we do not have to rely on a multitude of laws or priests anymore but have the guidance within us. We have a direct connection to God! When we listen and obey the Holy Spirit, we are on the right track!
When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. (Acts 2:1-4, NIV)
10. Why do the dates of some of the Christian holidays change?
While Christmas always happens on December 25th, the dates for the celebration for Good Friday, Easter, and Pentecost have no fixed dates. While the timing of the three holidays is connected, it changes every year. Some say the reason for this is that they were never written down. However, from the Bible, we know that Jesus was crucified on the Friday before the Jewish Passover celebrations. He rose from the death on Passover. Hence, we celebrate Good Friday every year three days before Passover, Easter on Passover, and Pentecost seven Sundays after Easter.
Jesus: His life and His teachings
11. Who was and is Jesus?
Jesus was and is the son of God. He came physically onto this earth two thousand years ago and lived for about 33 years, before being crucified. Spiritually he has been at the onset of this earth and remains forever.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. (John 1:1-5, NIV)
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14, NIV)
12. What happened in his physical childhood?
Jesus was born in Bethlehem to the Virgin Mary and her husband Joseph from Nazareth during the time of Roman occupation. His parents had to flee to Egypt because Herod the Great wanted to kill him. After the death of Herod, the family came back to Nazareth in Galilee, where Jesus grew up and become a carpenter like Joseph.
In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. And everyone went to their own town to register. So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them. (Luke 2:1-7, NIV)
13. What happened at and after the baptism?
Jesus was baptized by his cousin John, who was said to prepare the world for Jesus and to have the spirit and power of Elijah. When John baptized Jesus, the Holy Spirit descended on him like a dove, and God called Jesus his beloved son. Jesus then went into the wilderness where he got unsuccessfully tempted by Satan for 40 days. Only then did he start his ministry.
Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. But John tried to deter him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” Jesus replied, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.” Then John consented. As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:13-17, NIV)
14. What is the Sermon on the Mount?
Jesus told us about the kingdom of God and how we should live in a series of teachings (Matthew 5-7) that included the Beatitudes showcasing what kind of people find favor with God. Other lessons include these themes: Salt and light, the fulfillment of the law, murder, adultery, divorce, oaths, eye for an eye, love for enemies, giving to the needy, fasting, treasures in heaven, do not worry, judging others, as well as ask, seek, and knock. Moreover, they also contain topics about the narrow and wide gates, true and false prophets, true and false disciples, and the wise and foolish builders, and the Lord’s prayer.
You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. (Matthew 5:43-48, NIV)
15. What is the Lord’s prayer?
Jesus told us how to pray. I have covered the Lord’s prayer throughout this site and based my teachings on this beautiful prayer. It truly encompasses every situation.
‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.’
(Matthew 6:9-13, NIV)
16. Why are the Christian teachings so different from other ones?
When we read Jesus teachings, we quickly recognize that his priorities are very different from the earthly goals we are used to. His focus is on the kingdom. The values are upside down, where the weak are on top and truth does not start with what we say, but what we think. What is in our hearts is more important than what is in our checking account. It goes counter to power, ego, and money we are used to striving for.
He said: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
(The Beatitudes, Matthew 5:3-12, NIV)
17. What are some of the parables of Jesus, and where can you find them?
Jesus used many parables to illustrate his teaching. You can find them in the books of Matthew, Mark, and Luke.
The Sower (Matthew 13:1-23, Mark 4:2-8, and Luke 8:4-8)
The Weeds (Matthew 13:24-30)
The Mustard Seed and the Yeast (Matthew 13:31-34 and Mark 4:30-32)
The Hidden Treasure and the Pearl (Matthew 13:44-45)
The Net (Matthew 13:47-52)
The Wandering Sheep (Matthew 18:10-14)
The Unmerciful Servant (Matthew 18:21-35)
The Workers in the Vineyard (Matthew 20:1-16)
The Two Sons (Matthew 21:28-32)
The Tenants (Matthew 21: 33-46 and Luke 20:9-19)
The Ten Virgins (Matthew 25:1-13)
The Bags of Gold (Matthew 25: 14-30)
The Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-37)
The Rich Fool (Luke 12:13-21)
The Growing Seed (Mark 4:26-29)
The Tenants (Mark 12:1-12)
The Great Banquet (Luke 14:15-24)
The Lost Sheep (Luke 15:4-7)
The Lost Coin (Luke 15:8-10)
The Lost Son (Luke 15:11-32)
The Shrewd Manager (Luke 16:1-15)
The Persistent Widow (Luke 18:1-8)
The Pharisee and the Tax Collector (Luke 18:12-14)
The Ten Minas (Luke 19:12-27)
18. Why did Jesus speak in parables?
Jesus explained the uses of parables so that people who were of the kingdom would understand, but others not. He would often explain the parables to his disciples while they were a small group and not a large crowd.
The disciples came to him and asked, “Why do you speak to the people in parables?”
He replied, “Because the knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them. Whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. This is why I speak to them in parables: “Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand. In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah:
‘You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving. For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise, they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.’
But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear. For truly I tell you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.
(Matthew 13:10-17, NIV)
19. What miracles did Jesus perform?
Jesus performed many miracles during his ministry. He miraculously healed many sick people, be they physically or mentally ill, even dead. He also fed thousands of people with minimal food. Below are some of the best-known miracles.
Jesus Turns Water into Wine at the Wedding in Cana (John 2:1-10)
Miraculous Catch of Fish on the Lake of Gennesaret (John 21:1-14)
Jesus Heals a Man with Leprosy (Matthew 8:1-4, Mark 1:40-42, Luke 5:12-16)
Jesus Heals a Paralyzed Man (Mark 2:1-12)
Jesus Raises a Widow’s Son from the Dead in Nain (Luke 7:11-17)
Jesus Calms the Storm (Matthew 8:23-27, Mark 4:35-41)
Jesus Restores a Demon-Possessed Man (Matthew 8:28-34, Mark 5:1-20)
Jesus Heals a Woman in the Crowd (Matthew 9:20-22 and Mark 5:25-34)
Jesus Drives Out an Impure Spirit (Mark 1:21-28)
Jesus Restores a Demon-Possessed Man (Mark 5:1-20)
Jesus Raises Jairus’ Daughter Back to Life (Mark 5:35-42)
Jesus Heals a Man Who Was Unable to Speak (Mark 7:31-37)
Jesus Heals an Invalid at Bethesda (John 5:1-9)
Jesus Feeds 5,000 (Matthew 14:13-21, Mark 6:31-44, Luke 9:12-17, John 6:1-14)
Jesus Feeds 4,000 (Matthew 15:29-39, Mark 8:1-10)
Jesus Walks on Water (Matthew 14:22-33, Mark 6:45-52, John 6:16-21)
Jesus Heals a Man Born Blind (John 9:1-12)
Jesus Heals a Boy With an Unclean Spirit (Matthew 17:14-16, Luke 9:40-44)
Jesus Heals a Crippled Woman (Luke 13:10-17)
Jesus Raises Lazarus from the Dead (John 11:38-44)
Jesus Withers the Fig Tree (Matthew 21:18-22)
20. What are the most important commandments?
Jesus’ answer is written in the Bible:
On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
“What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”
He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”
“You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”
(Luke 10:25-28, NIV)
Spiritual phases in the Christian journey
21. How do our lives change when we become Christians?
Our life changes in as much as we allow the new dimension of spirituality to become part of us. As our faith grows, we feel spiritually loved, our human needs and goals decrease, and we are content. As we get closer to God, fears and anxiety disappear while love and peace take over. Heaven and serenity are possible even on earth.
22. What are the spiritual phases in the Christian faith?
There are six distinct phases in our spiritual journey:
- Phase 0: Incubation
- Phase 1: Newborn
- Phase 2: Childhood
- Phase 3: Transition
- Phase 4: Adulthood
- Phase 5: Passive
As a Christian, we are anywhere on the faith growth continuum. Please note that spiritual growth happens independently of our physical age. Hence, while we may be an adult physically, we may still be a child spiritually.
23. What is the Incubation phase?
Analog to physical birth, spiritual birth needs preparation. Many evangelizations show that this phase can be short. In this phase, we learn about the existence of Jesus, hear testimonials of people and stories about Jesus’ life, and may even experience miracles, read the bible or go to church. However, since we have not accepted Jesus yet, the spirit has not entered, and the path we follow is very earthly: Money, power, and ego are the hallmarks of our goals and measures of success. We are our old self, and no real change happens.
If we stay in this phase, our brain may know a lot about Jesus, but we will never experience the blessings that come from following Jesus. We move to the next step by accepting Jesus into our hearts. Please note that while the baptism should reflect this decision, the key is the acceptance of Jesus and not the baptism. It is possible to get baptized and still not accept Jesus.
24. What is the Newborn phase?
I remember this phase as being full of joy and hope. It was a time when I opened my heart and listened to lots of music. While I did not search for a church immediately, once I did, the music was more important than the sermon. I felt close to God. The music was my umbilical cord providing spiritual nutriment.
Depending on our situation, this phase may provide healing and strength. This happens through God without us being in control. We are spiritual babies, incapable of doing much on our own, very dependent on God. Hope is our language.
If we stay in this phase, we will pray and praise God but be incapable to change, help others, and reach our spiritual potential. To move to the next level, we need to learn about Jesus and experience the Christian faith.
25. What is the Childhood phase?
During spiritual childhood, we learn about Jesus and experience his ways. Most importantly, we learn to trust God and make changes in our lives. This process includes several components.
- Communication: We not only learn how God talks, but also when he talks, and when not. We not only speak to him but with him. We build a relationship with God and trust Him.
- Observations: We see images and patterns that show us how God functions. When we recognize his signature, we trust Him.
- Bible study: We read and learn from a multitude of stories. We learn who God is, what He wants, and what His plans are. We learn about the trinity of God, Father, and the Holy Spirit. We learn to trust Him.
- Challenges: The goal of problems is either to build trust or to make changes or both. When we face a challenge, we must remember that God will never give us more than what we can handle.
- Path changes: The challenges help us make the needed changes, so we end up on the right path. We may not recognize the right way initially, and several interventions may be required to get us onto the correct path.
- Mind changes: Once we know more about God and how He works, our thinking changes. We see challenges not as problems but as faith-builders or path-changers where the key is not the problem itself but our reaction to it.
The more we learn, trust God, accept His thinking, and are willing to change, the quicker we enter the next phase.
26. What is the Transitions phase?
Our challenges in the previous steps concerned the physical world, such as job, money, and relationship problems. When we overcome these challenges, we build trust at the same time we put ourselves on the right path. The challenges in the transition phase are different as they are of spiritual nature. Our faith is being tested. It is my understanding that God wants to know how much He can trust us and how much He can use us in his service.
The transition phase is very uncomfortable. While we were spiritually protected through the connection to God in the previous stages, this protection seems to be removed now. Whatever we face, we are fully exposed to the challenge. We are being tested on what we think or do when being alone, without the visible hand of God. Do we keep the path when life seems upside down and emotions twirl inside and around us? Do we let our faith be broken when facing real hardship? Do we still trust Him when the arrows hit us from all sides, and the devil tempts us big times? Do we still love Him when we can’t understand His ways anymore? Do we still love Him when we feel that He has given up on us?
This phase always comes to an end! Whenever we hit the breaking point, God has his answer. As soon as we cry out to God in deep despair or when we ask God whether He has forsaken us, we show God not only that we will stay with Him no matter what, but also how much we can take. If we still had a bone of pride or feeling of superiority in our bones before this phase, the transition phase humbles us to the core. At the end of this stressful period, we know who we are and our limitations. But we also know that our faith and trust in God is assured. We grow up and become spiritual adults.
27. What is the Adult phase?
As a spiritual adult, we are secure in our faith knowing that no matter what, we will stay with God and He with us. Our relationship with God is strong. We are part of His kingdom and have adopted its values. Working for God’s purpose is not only an obvious choice but also reflects God’s plan for us. While we continue to learn and grow, it is time to reach our spiritual potential in serving God and humanity.
There are many ways to serve the kingdom, some small, others significant. God leads us to help not only in ways He thinks effective but also in an environment that we can handle. Cherishing His love and relationship, we spread love and compassion. Without feeling threatened by anyone or anything, we act courageously. We know our place in God’s world and do not need to fear or boast. By serving God, we help people to better their situation.
This phase is about love. It feels good to be in a close relationship with God and people. It feels good to be of help and serve. We stay in this phase as long as we can actively serve God, and we keep our relationship with Him healthy.
28. What is the Passive phase?
The passive phase is about the spiritual growth of others. Our faith is set, but we cannot be actively involved in the faith journey of others any longer. As the name says it, the phase is passive. Most often we are frail, be it through old age, health issues, or other unfavorable circumstances. We are not strong enough to manage our or other people’s lives. Nevertheless, our situation serves as an example to others. We teach love though weakness, strength through perseverance, and compassion through suffering. While this phase does not sound enticing, we are assured that God’s spiritual shield and peace protects us in our circumstances. The passive step is the greatest act of devotion and love we can give to God and humanity.
29. How can we accelerate the faith journey?
Overall, these phases serve to move from experiencing hope in the baby phase to becoming certain in our faith in the childhood and transition stages, to be filled with love in the adult and passive phases. The Bible was clear that the greatest of them is love (1 Corinthians 1).
Therefore, the goal is to reach the adult phase so that we can experience love and serve God. The length of each prior stage is impacted by how quickly we make a decision, how actively we seek God, and how closely we keep to Him. The further we stray from his ways and teachings, the longer it takes to get back onto our path or to accelerate it. We need to stay steadfast in our faith to progress quickly. However, developing trust often requires detours from which we learn a great deal and which become foundations to our faith. So, if you think you are on an unpaved road, do not despair but learn from all you can. You are most likely there for a purpose. If you keep close to God, you will move forward, and the goal will eventually reveal itself.
30. What are the risks of staying stagnant in our faith?
Most often, we stay stagnant in our faith when we move away from God when God’s energy does not propel us forward anymore.
The risk of staying in the preparation phase and to never accept Jesus is that we will never get to know the full love of Jesus, the peace and courage we get from the relationship, the contentment from being on the right path, the satisfaction for being useful to God and humanity.
The risk of staying in the baby phase is to never have an adult relationship with God and the satisfaction that comes with it. Of course, while we remain in the baby stage, we cannot do God’s work either unless the baby phase immediately turns into a passive one.
The risk of staying in the child phase is that our learning may be incomplete without us even recognizing it:
- We may be fixed on rules and become stern Christians without compassion.
- We may not learn to trust God when we do not observe His ways.
- We may refuse to trust God when we do not get what we want.
The transition phase is longer than needed if we keep holding on to money, ego, and power.
Overall, when we stay stagnant in any of the phases, we risk to never achieve the adult phase and become the person we are supposed to be. Of course, this will have lasting impacts on our lives. The way to counter this roadblock is to get closer to God again.
Living as a Christian
31. Why is reading the Bible essential?
There are three reasons why reading the Bible is essential:
- Learning about God’s ways and building trust
- Reading the stories in the Bible gives answers to our questions
- We show interest in God’s story
The first reason is apparent. The Bible contains the teachings. The more we read, the more we understand the foundation of our faith.
The second point illustrates another way we can use the Bible in our daily life. It puts us in the middle of God’s story. When we need answers, we can read the Bible until we get the point. Hence, we can use the Bible as a communication tool with God.
We seldom talk about the third reason. Think about a relationship where one person does not know anything about their partner while this partner knows everything about that person. What type of relationship will this be? What does God feel when we do not care to know Him? Disrespected? Exploited? Unloved? Can you really blame Him if He loses interest and moves away from us in such situations?
32. Do we need to take the Bible literally?
There are differing opinions about the answer to this question. While I am no expert, I have developed a strategy I adhere to:
- If I want to learn what happened and who God is, I take the Bible literally. In that case, it even matters what type of Bible and translation I am reading.
- If I want to learn the basics and teachings of the faith, I do not take it literally, but focus on the story and the meaning instead. In such cases, I try to filter out the social environment from the story and focus on the purpose.
- If I want to get an answer to a question, I focus on the voice I hear or feel when I read. Interestingly, I can get answers to different questions from a single story. This could not happen if I read a story literally.
33. Which Bible should we read?
The answer depends on what you want to get out of the Bible. I usually read the New International Version (NIV) since it is easy to understand. However, if I want to get a more profound knowledge about God, I may read the word-by-word translation in the English Standard Version (ESV). If I want only the meaning, I use the New Living Translation (NLT). There are many other Bibles. It is interesting to see the differences in the translations, some of them quite fundamental.
34. Why should we pray to God?
God wants to communicate with us. Praying is a form of talking with God. When we pray, we share our life (not that God would not already know it!). As long as we communicate, we give God a place and a home. The more we talk, the more we understand each other, work out differences, and work towards the same goals. Praying is working on our relationship with God.
35. How should we pray to God?
I am sure that God accepts any way we talk to Him as long as it comes from the heart.
Jesus gave us the Lord’s Prayer and taught us how to pray. I have written about this beautiful prayer extensively previously. It addresses everything: giving God the place and glory He deserves, asking for help in our daily life, asking for forgiveness, and asking for help in dealing with temptations. I have prayed for hundreds of people, there was never a prayer topic that would not fit the Lord’s Prayer! However, I am sure that God accepts any way we talk to Him as long as it comes from the heart. Below is my preferred version of the prayer.
The Lord’s Prayer (New Living Translation)
Our Father in heaven, may your name be kept holy. May your Kingdom come soon. May your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. Give us today the food we need, and forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us. And don’t let us yield to temptation but rescue us from the evil one.
(Matthew 6: 9-13, NLT)
36. Which Christian church should I join?
If you live in the United States, you have access to many different churches. However, many visitors to my website live in different countries. You may only have access to a single type of church. When I grew up, I only had access to a state church. It had a different flair than most of the churches I visited since then. If you have the option of choosing a church, the burden of selecting one falls on you. Here are a few strategies you might consider depending on your priorities:
- If you want to spiritually be at ease, choose one that works with your spiritual phase. A church with a great music program helps celebrate Jesus. A fundamental-oriented church teaches the literal interpretation of the Bible. An interpretative church focuses on the meaning of the stories.
- If you want the company of other Christians, make sure your church has a social agenda. Many churches offer small groups and classes as well as social gatherings. The values of the group members are essential since you want to fit in.
- If you want to make a difference, join a church that believes in good works, and creates social programs.
- If you want to be a peacemaker, join a church with no pastors or hierarchy. You will learn to work things out without power.
- If you want to live an inclusive faith, select a church with members of all ages, social and economic background, various races, and sexes. It will open your eyes to the full spectrum of humanity.
If your goal is such that you cannot find a church, why don’t you create one? God is always happy when his kingdom expands, and disciples are made. In the old days, Christians celebrated in their homes. Hence, no money or degree is needed to create a church, just faith.
37. How are Christians expected to behave?
Based on Jesus teachings to love God, our neighbors, we expect Christians to love, be joyful, at peace, be patient, be kind and good, be faithful, gentle, and have self-control. There are a few other adjectives that should illustrate Christian behavior: non-judgmental, decent, ethical, high morals, truthful, forgiving, sexual morality, and much more.
Whenever we hear someone is a Christian, we expect them to be perfect and act like Jesus. It is tough not to be judgmental when this is not the case, especially when the behavior is exceptionally immoral or unethical. It is tough to watch a fellow Christian behave in a way that is 180 degrees against the Christian creed.
But we are not perfect! We are astonished when someone misbehaves, and Jesus is being nailed to the cross again. In these moments, it helps to consider the faith continuum. Remember, no change in behavior happens during the preparation and the baby phase. Trusting God is a prerequisite for genuine Christian love and compassion!
Hence, we expect babies and children to be masters while masters act like children! Let us not throw stones but be patient. This does not mean that we need to smile and stay silent when the actions are unchristian, but it means we reach out and offer private guidance. I recognize this is not as easy than pointing fingers and talking behind someone’s back.
38. What happens when fellow Christians do not accept our guidance?
We are all responsible for our own actions. The Bible is clear, we need to point out inappropriate behavior. However, the responsibility to fix and change lays with the person who gets rebuked. It is crucial, however, that we stay calm and proper while rebuking someone. Remember, there have and will be times when we are on the receiving end, given that we are not perfect. However, we always know that love and kindness are more effective in changing someone’s heart and behavior than the stick and blame.
39. What happens when we get rebuked?
As discussed in the previous question, every Christian needs to point out inappropriate behavior. So when there is room for us to improve, we should appreciate the guidance. Of course, if we think, we behaved adequately, we should talk it over with God and see what He thinks. Sometimes, it also helps to explain the reasons behind our actions to paint a different picture. Communication is always more effective than the silent treatment.
40. What is Love?
Jesus is all about love, which is the basis for the Christian faith. Love is more important than any rules. When we feel God’s grace, we feel His love. As Christians, we change because of love, not duties or regulations. When we love, we communicate with and search closeness to God and people. Love is described in the Bible. The description is beautiful and puts everything into perspective.
If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast. but do not have love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
(1 Corinthians 1, NIV)
I hope this post answered a few of your questions. Moreover, if you got inspired to get closer to God, I have achieved my goal.
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Hope, Faith, and Love versus Anxiety, Worries, and Indifference
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Basics of Human Relationships
The Lord’s Prayer
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Contact Katharina Steiner
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