Doing Christianity vs. Being Christian

Sometimes I think that in our efforts to be all that we can be when it comes to Christ, we make Him entirely too complicated.

As a means of proving that he loves and cares for us, God became a man, absorbed into himself the full cost of every wrong we and any other human would ever do, and then let that eternal debt—all that negative karma—be obliterated along with the corporeal form he’d assumed. And then—just in case we ever forget or lose touch with that reality—he left in our hearts the Holy Spirit, which is God in his entirety, as near to us as our next thought or breath.

That’s it. That’s what happened. That’s the entire story of who Christ is, and what he did.

We don’t have to do anything about what God did on earth. We don’t have to (and can’t) improve, embellish, elaborate, add to, enhance, or in any way modify it. And we sure don’t have to make ourselves worthy of it. We can’t. That’s the whole point.

We make God too complicated. One of the main reasons we do that is because the Bible is so extremely complicated that, in order to even begin to grasp its meanings and implications, most of us rely upon someone who went to seminary college for four years just so they could begin to understand and teach the Bible.

The Bible is extremely complicated because all history, from the personal to the universal, is extremely complicated.

God himself, though, is the ultimate in uncomplicated—and, via the Holy Spirit, is or can be as fresh and new to you as the very moment in time in which you’re reading this.

Don’t ever sacrifice the peaceful simplicity of being Christian for the complicated busyness of doing Christianity. Never forget that God cares so much for the former he gave his bodily life for it, and that he wouldn’t give a plugged nickle for the latter.

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About John Shore

John Shore (who, fwiw, is straight) is the author of UNFAIR: Christians and the LGBT Question, and three other great books. He is co-founder of The NALT Christians Project and founder of Unfundamentalist Christians (on Facebook here). His blog is here. His website is JohnShore.com. John is a pastor ordained by The Progressive Christian Alliance. You're invited to like John's Facebook page. And don't forget to sign up for his mucho awesome monthly newsletter.

  • http://minoritythinker.blogspot.com Shannon

    Just read this post on a similar topic earlier today:
    http://ridgeburnsblog.blogspot.com/2009/03/being-

  • http://www.sisterfriends-together.org anita

    Dittos to the whole ball of theological wax you rolled out here John-John. How we love to complicate the most simple message of all.

  • http://skerrib.blogspot.com Skerrib

    The only point I disagree with is that we were born worthy of all the stuff God has done for us. Love on his part, as opposed to worth on our part. Semantics? Maybe. Either way, a very important post.

    • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

      Skerrib: You're right. Mine was too subtle. I changed it. Thanks very much.

  • http://skerrib.blogspot.com skerrib

    Cool! Thanks for the post.

  • victoriouslatoya

    Great post John :)

  • http://megaloi.blogspot.com Redlefty

    Apropos of nothing, I always think of John's comment avatar as the real John, as that is the pic I saw first of him. The newish one on the front page looks more like Albert Brooks to me.

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Apropos of nothing, please [not really an expletive deleted, but erring on the side of prudence anyway] me.

  • http://significana.com/ Signifier

    A great man once said, “Do be do be do.” I take this to mean that doing will surround or flow out of our being. Yes it is simple. What we do should not be complicated but should flow out of the simplicity of being.

    We are to be like little children. Just be, and the doing flows naturally from that.

  • http://megaloi.blogspot.com Redlefty

    High five!

    So would you say your response was more "doing Christianity", or "being Christian"? :)

  • http://www.1truebeliever.wordpress.com wickle

    But … but … I want a fancy rulebook that no one can live by except me, especially since I get the cool decoder ring!

    Not just the Bible … I mean, anyone can have a Bible … I want the special rulebook.

    And I want a special list of songs that God likes, but that only I know.

    Sigh … yes, we overcomplicate. It's what we do.

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Red: Well, you see I worriedly excised a curse word that wasn't EVEN a curse word. If that's not being Christian, I don't know what is. (For the record, I'm not keen at ALL on that picture of me. It's so cheesy. But I only HAVE one other picture of me, and I was bone tired of looking at that. I gotta see if my wife maybe has another picture of me. I'm the worst picture-takeree EVER. I have no idea how to relax my face as if I'm not aware someone's taking my picture.

    Wickle: great!

  • namesake

    How about the "peaceful simplicity of being" Shore-ian? I mean it sounds so simple, but then what? What do I do next? I need something to do don't I?

    Seems like none of us Christians, much less Shore-ians, are comfortable just being.

    We do, however, need to learn to start there, to gain that foundation, before we step into the action role.

    Somehow, God has factored our tendency to complicate matters into his design, right? Hmmmm. Nevermind, that's too complex.

    Thanks, John!

  • http://www.1truebeliever.wordpress.com wickle

    Can I take back my answer and just say what Janelle said? That was brilliant!

  • http://skerrib.blogspot.com skerrib

    Yep–thanks Janelle!

  • http://mymenandme.wordpress.com Janelle

    The Prodigal Son story… the gospel in a nutshell. Because he had messed up so badly, the son wanted to come home and serve (DO) to be acceptable. The Father welcomed him as a Son (BE). But to continue the story in my mind, I’m sure that once the relationship was established and the son was confident in who he was, there were a lot of things that he did for the father that came out of that relationship.

    That is how I approach the whole “busy” issue. I’m going to be busy doing something because otherwise life would just be meaningless. My Christian-ness gives those things that I do their meaning. But hopefully I don’t fall into the trap of the acts giving the Christianity it’s meaning, if you follow me?!

    • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

      Absolutely. Well said.

  • http://christianranter.wordpress.com Des

    I blame Paul for making Christianity harder than it needs to be. Chapter after chapter of double talk and other ramblings. You have to wonder if the recipients of his letters would receive them with excitement or pass it to the next person in the pew and say, "Here, you open it."

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  • joe

    God wouldn't give a plugged nickel for what others? Are you saying God doesn't are about anyone else but Christians?

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