Here are some frequently asked questions about our teaching at The Meeting House. Over time we will grow this list so come back often or contact us and submit your own questions and we will see if we can add them here.
What is a Christian?The word "Christian" literally means "Christ-follower". And since "Christ" means "Messiah" or "Chosen One" or "Saviour" or "Deliverer" or "Rescuer", then to be a Christian is really to be someone who follows Jesus because they acknowledge that he is their Saviour. Jesus said it himself in John 14:6, when he bluntly declared, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me." So, on the one hand a Christian is someone who goes to church because they have a genuine relationship with Jesus as their Saviour and they want to be encouraged in their faith. But on the other hand, just going to church without a relationship with Christ won't make someone a true Christian anymore than walking in the woods makes you a tree, or standing in a parking lot makes you a car. It's not just a matter of where you go, but who you know that makes you a Christian, a Christ-follower.
How do I become a Christ-follower?
Well, to become a "Christian" you need to begin a relationship with Jesus Christ. This relationship is begun by coming to him and acknowledging our failure and asking for his forgiveness. Obviously we have something we need to be "saved" from if Jesus came to be our "Saviour", right? Romans 3:23 says, "For all have sinned; all fall short of God's glorious standard." Are you ready to admit your failure to live up to God's ideal? He is ready to forgive you and cleanse you from all your guilt. Next comes our whole-hearted commitment to following him, which simply means to do whatever he would want us to do. Of course, if we're going to learn about what his will is for our lives, this will mean that we become students of the Bible and study it for ourselves, as well as learn what we can at church. So becoming and being a Christian is not really about being "Catholic" or "Protestant" or "Baptist" or "Brethren In Christ" (which The Meeting House is).
Joining one church or another is not the issue, but committing to Christ is. In fact, it seems quite possible that there are all kinds of people who call themselves "Christians", both Catholics and Protestants, who may think they are Christians because they go to church and do other good things, but who don't really know Jesus. That seems to be the message Jesus gives in Matthew 7:21-23. He says, "Not all people who sound religious are really godly. They may refer to me as 'Lord', but they still won't enter the Kingdom of Heaven." Jesus goes on in those verses to describe that it is not enough to talk the talk, but what's important is our relationship with him displayed in obedience to his teachings that makes the difference. The Bible uses a word for that -- "faith" -- which simply means "active trust", believing in someone or something enough to act upon that belief. Are you ready to commit your life to following Jesus as his disciple? He's ready to lead you into new and deeper life (John 10:10).
Do I have to become a weirdo to become a Christian?
You know, sometimes people assume that God wants them to become some 1950's version of themselves, but that is not what it is all about. Christ loves you as YOU. Your personality, your likes, your style. If he wanted only a bunch of TV preachers for his followers, he would have cloned them! So baby if you're cool, you can still be cool, but if your not, well then I not sure we can help you...(just kidding). Christ has called us to freedom, that means there can be diversity of expression among his followers from skaters to CEOs and activists to academics.However, I would not be completely honest if I didn't give you a few of Christ's thoughts on the matter. In the gospels, Jesus makes it plain that we need to make a radical change in our lives and go against some of the negative trends, systems, values, and assumptions which he calls "the world". At times this may not be popular with those around you who may be offended by your chosen path, even to the point of antagonism.In the book of John, chapter 15, Jesus says to his followers, "If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you."So be prepared to count the cost. Some may see your pursuit of Christ as the first steps down the path toward ultimate goof-dome, but ultimately, does it really matter what people think?
Where did God come from?
God by definition is the "uncreated One". If he "came" from anywhere, if he had a beginning, whoever or whatever created him would be considered the real God. Then one would have to ask who created THAT God, etc.
At some point we have to end at an eternal being that did not have a beginning and that is who we call God. Note: If people have a problem believing that someone or something could always exist without having a beginning, then God makes even MORE sense...because if you don't believe that HE existed forever, then you are left having to believe that the material, physical universe just existed forever and had no beginning.
I know people will point to the "big bang", but then we still have to ask who or what started that. And who or what created the giant mass of stuff that went "bang" in the first place? God? If not God, then you have to believe that material matter has God-like ability to exist forever and/or self-generate. Seems more reasonable to just believe in God at that point.
Is there any proof that God exists?
Yup...but we prefer to call it "evidence" rather than "proof". Evidence is the objective truth or reason -- proof is what it becomes inside a person. What is "proof" for one person may not be for another, but we can all agree that there is a ton of evidence for God's existence. It's like the evidence used in a court trial -- it points in one direction or another, but it's up to the jury to decide if a case has been "proven" to them well enough or not.
The nice thing is that neither you nor I nor anyone has to "prove" God exists or not. All we have to do is honestly present the evidence and let everyone make their own decision. Jesus himself constantly takes that approach in his teaching - he says "look at the evidence and decide for yourselves". Jesus encourages all spiritual question askers "seekers" at our church to take an "evidentialist" approach to the big questions of life. That is, look at the evidence HONESTLY, without bias and bigotry, and then come to your own conclusion. For now, I'll just point out that for me, creatION implies a CreatOR, and design implies a Designer. If I find a beautiful painting, I believe it is reasonable to believe that an artist exists somewhere. I find it less reasonable to believe that is just "happened" to come into being.
Likewise, if I find on the beach one day a watch, it makes reasonable sense to me to believe that there is such a thing as a watchmaker. It is less rational for me to believe that is just happened one day as the result chance and time. Again, the very computer you are using to read this question should suggest that someone exists with intelligent powers of creation and design who built it. It makes less sense to believe that your computer came into being as a result of an explosion in a metal factory one day. You see my point? God is not for wishful thinkers...he just makes sense for the intelligent. There is MUCH more I could say about evidence for God's existence, but I'll move on for now.
Is there any proof outside of the Bible that Jesus existed?
Whoever asked this question is making it too easy for me. Yes, it is an established fact that Jesus of Nazareth existed as an actual historical figure. Josephus, Pliny the Younger, and other historians write of him. Open any encyclopedia and you can easily confirm this. What we know as an indisputable FACT is...He taught a radical message of love. He spoke of the importance of a spiritual kingdom in our hearts to setting up an earthly kingdom .
He claimed to be the Jewish Messiah. He was put to death by Roman capital punishment -- crucifixion. His tomb was empty just days later and nobody was ever found. Now, what someone does with these facts is their own business. But these are the facts. For many people, these historical facts are enough to encourage them to read the writings of those who were eyewitnesses to Jesus life and teachings -- found in the Bible.
For others, they just dismiss them as coincidence...or a hoax. Your call.
Prove that God is looking down on us. Prove it!
I could reply back to "prove" that He isn't. But how about we just look at the evidence instead. Rather than just create the world and then leave it to all its problems, the Bible teaches that the real God gave us rules and guidelines to help us have the healthiest life and planet possible. He also stands opposed to those who would break these rules and hurt other people, themselves, or the planet in the process. Jews, Muslims, and Christians all agree on this point.
But here's where the Christian message is specifically beautiful. The New Testament teaches that God loved us so much that, when he saw we couldn't live up to his high standards, he came down to earth, became one of his (amazing) creations, and died a death that would take all the punishment away from us "law-breakers". How beautiful -- CreatOR becomes creatION, and takes all our personal failures and hurts upon himself on the cross. Then he dies the death of a criminal, so we could be filled with new life -- minus all the dirt and grime .
Wow! The God of the Bible isn't a fat, contented man sitting in the lotus position with a grin on his face just watching us. No, he is the twisted, tortured figure left to die on a Roman cross because he loves us so much he was willing to become one of us.
That's the God the Bible tells us about...but you are free to take it or leave it.
How could there be free choice if we are punished for not following Jesus?
Of course it is...all actions bring specific consequences. Some people don’t believe their actions should have consequences. We call them psychotic and they can get therapy. But most normal people understand that, just because decisions lead to results, doesn’t mean that we have no free choice.
God loves us, but he doesn’t force his love on us. It makes sense though that, if there is a God and he knows what’s best for us, that those who choose that way will have a better life than those who don’t. If there is a God, He MUST make a positive difference in our lives. That just makes sense.
So, those who choose not to follow him will miss out on that benefit. It’s their call. If your school caught fire and someone came to your class and said, “All the usual exits are blocked and the smoke is bad -- but I know a way out -- follow me!”, it would be completely up to you to follow that person or not. But if someone decides to stay in the classroom and die or try to find a way out on their own, don’t blame the person who offered help.
Why is Jesus the only way?
This is the most sensible of all issues to deal with. If God is real, why would he teach mutually conflicting and contradictory ways to find him? Wouldn't ONE God offer ONE plan to have the best life possible? He knows what's best for us, so why offer some people second best?
You see, no other religion or philosophy offers a plan to deal with our failure. They all teach ways of generating more success, but when we do fail they have no plan for wiping out our "sin".
Hinduism and Buddhism say that our sin will effect our karma and we'll just come back as a lower life form. How cruel. Since our memories are wiped clean during this process of reincarnation, how can we ever learn a lesson from our past mistakes? It's just hit and miss each lifetime -- being punished for past mistakes that we don't even know about.
Islam teaches that we will be allowed into heaven based on our works. All our deeds will be weighed on a scale and if there are more good than bad, then we can go into heaven. If not, too bad for us. BUT, how can a PERFECT God who lives in a PERFECT place let IMPERFECT people in with even, say, 10% sin and selfishness inside them. Wouldn't they just bring in the same "sin virus" and selfishness that we have here on earth? And wouldn't heaven then become corrupted just like earth? And wouldn't it cease to be a PERFECT place to live? How can any God let sin into heaven?
No, it just makes reasonable sense that all human failure would have to be eradicated and all people fully purified if they are going to enter this totally pure place without contaminating it. And that's what the cross does for us! The Jews were the only other people who believed that sin had to be done away with if they wanted to go to heaven. This happened in Old Testament days through animal sacrifices. But since the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem in 70 AD they have stopped these sacrifices with no satisfactory explanation as to what happens to their sin now. As Christians, we know that the animal sacrifices are no longer necessary, because Jesus was the final infinite sacrifice for all humanity.
Why is religion so ignorant and unreal?
Okay, this question is one of my favourites!! It's the BEST question yet! I'll tell you why all religion is so ignorant and unreal...it's because all religion was created by people to help them try to be good enough to go to heaven -- and that's STUPID! No one can be good enough. I know I'm not.
But we can receive that goodness as a gift if we allow Jesus to take away our "sin". That's why Jesus was completely anti-religious. Did you know that? It was one of his greatest traits -- he stood opposed to the "religious" way of trying to please God. Instead, he said he had come to finally abolish all religion and provide a spiritual way of having intimate, direct relationship with our Creator. No longer, he said, should we have to go through institutions and religious organizations to come to God. Instead we can now "dial direct" and have a relationship with God through Jesus. How wonderful!!
That's why at our church, The Meeting House, we constantly do our best to be as "irreligious" as possible and stress the fact that we support the Christian FAITH, but not the Christian RELIGION. That's what makes the Jesus of history so attractive to me -- he never came to start a new religion, but to show us how we can come directly to God through him. It's up to each individual to chose whether or not they want to follow this man . I know he died for me -- the least I can do is live for him.