Christianity: FAQs. Short answers to questions that I get asked a lot by friends.

There are millions of Christians with many different beliefs and interpretations so I do not represent the entire faith but here’s some quick answers.

  1. Why do Christians get married so young?

Some Christians get married younger than the rest of us, some don’t.  I’ve found that every time my non Christian friends are talking about this, without a doubt, someone will make this comment with a smirk: ‘it’s just because they can’t wait to have sex’. I’m sure for some that has been a reason for the sudden engagement! However Christians have brains and often think rationally! I don’t know many Christians who would commit their entire life to someone and spend thousands on a wedding just for a shag.

Many Christians get married young because they take commitment very seriously. It is possible that many Christians don’t stay in relationships if they can’t see their partner as a spouse in the future. This perhaps means they don’t pursue as many relationships and thus get to ‘the one’ faster, maybe? Most Christians I know won’t live together unmarried. Maybe this is why they move quicker in the pursuit of marriage. This doesn’t necessarily mean they are rushing into it. Many Christians will pray a great deal before proposing marriage.

  1. Why can’t you have sex before marriage?

This is another favourite question I get! Essentially sex is part of the marriage procedure. Marriage is a holy covenant between two people and God. After a marriage ceremony in the presence of God, a man and woman physically become one flesh through the act of sex. Its purpose is to unite people in a lifelong covenant that is taken very seriously by God. That’s why Christians try to not have sex before marriage, so it can be saved for that holy day and for that one person. Then there is the whole your ‘body is a temple’ thing that you might have heard of. ‘The sexually immoral person sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God’ – 1 Corinthians 6:18-20.

Furthermore, you can avoid using people for sex, being used for sex or ‘leading someone on’ by avoiding sex before commitment. This ties into loving your neighbour by avoiding the hurt caused by sex.

  1. How can good people go to hell?

There’s many better qualified people than me to answer this question, but you’re stuck with me. The heaven and hell thing isn’t as simple as actions that make you good or bad. “There is not a righteous man on earth who does what is right and never sins.” (Ecclesiastes 7:20). For this reason no one is sent to heaven or hell based on sinning or not, as everyone sins.

I understand it as this.  We go to heaven based on repenting (asking for forgiveness) for our sins. If God is good then he is just. Therefore he holds everyone accountable for sin. This greatly ranges from ignoring your friend at school to the extreme of raping a child. Because of the severity of sins such as political corruption or paedophilia, they all need to be acknowledged. But they can all be forgiven. John 3:17 – ‘For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him’. Jesus dying gave everyone the opportunity to believe that sin can be removed through Jesus’ sacrifice. If you repent then you will have eternal life. Therefore, if we say sorry and mean it then we will have eternal life. That’s pretty sound, as the cool kids would say.

People find it offensive that if they don’t believe in Jesus then they will go to hell. That’s fair enough! One answer I have to that is: how can you expect to go to heaven if you don’t believe it exists? The alternative is death, – hell. Or, how can you repent of your sins if you don’t believe in the person who can remove them? According to the bible you can’t enter heaven carrying your sins.

  1. Why does God allow suffering?

At school I used to panic that I couldn’t answer this one. No one can completely understand this, it is beyond our human understanding. However I’ve got some points.

God doesn’t plan for people to sin or suffer, I think. The brokenness of the world can be argued as a result of the fall of man. This is referring to when man ate the apple – we sinned. Suffering can also be explained by the actions of one of the fallen angels – the devil.

Moreover, God doesn’t enforce a perfect world because we wouldn’t know what was good or joyful if we only knew good. Another point, suffering is caused by human free will. God allows free will so that we make our own decisions and therefore chose to love God or not. Or, perhaps, God uses suffering to teach us or to show us His glory through healing.

I hope I’ve answered some of the questions I get asked a lot by non Christians! My arguments are definitely not flawless and you can write essays and essays on these questions but I tried to make them short and comprehensible.

By Ella Johnson

Finding The Calm in Life’s Busy Moments

Life get’s so busy. From going to work, socialising and planning projects, it’s easy to get caught up in these things. Setting time aside for silence and spending quiet moments with God is nourishing. David said in Psalm 62:1, “Truly my soul finds rest in God; my salvation comes from him.” In the Bible, Jesus spends alone time with God providing a model for you and me. In Mark 1:35, “very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.” You can pray, play to worship music or just listen for God’s voice as a way of enjoying His presence. I’ve learnt that in the midst of hectic schedules and tiredness, God’s presence gives me perspective and it refreshes my mind.

Whatever you’re doing this week, give yourself some time to relax even if it’s for a moment. Do something that you enjoy, and sleep if that’s what you need.

I know it’s hard for some of us to find time to do all things, but your mind and your body will thank you for finding the calm in life’s busy moments.

I pray that you find rest in God’s presence. Amen.

 

 

Happy Christmas

The Christmas season is here again. It’s a season of twinkling fairylights, scrumptious meals, special gifts and family time. May your Christmas be filled be joy and memorable moments with people that you love. Our hearts and prayers go out to those facing difficult situations. You might not feel loved or wanted, but there’s a God who wants and adores you. He hears and sees you. He gave His son to the world and, this Christmas, you can experience Jesus’s love. The door to Jesus is open. For now and always.

Happy Christmas

The Single Season: Start Living, Start Loving

You’ve stood on the cliff of loneliness and jumped a few times.
You want to push the singleness away
and you feel like you’re best years are wasting away.

But, the single season isn’t a wasted season.
It might be hard
but It’s a blessing.
It seems like forever,
yet It’s a time to know to your Creator and cling Him.
It’s a time to see your beauty through His eyes
and realise that He loves and completes you.

His promises for you are true
and His plans for you are bigger than what you could ever imagine.

You don’t have to compare or abandoned.
The author of love, the One who created you, has you loved every passing day.
Spouse or no spouse, for now or never,
like seeds planted by the farmer,
God has put you in the right place at the right time.
So, start living and start loving;
there’s no need to wait.
Start believing and start trusting.

God is with you
for better and for worse,
for richer and for poorer,
in sickness and in health
and until He returns.

Achieving goals is in the everyday

It is too easy in a world full of distractions, addictive TV series and stressful jobs, to bury our heads in the sand and let time slip away. I heard someone say: ‘what do you want your reputation to be at the end of 2018? It doesn’t have to be the same reputation as it was at the end of 2017’. I often imagine how I want people to see me. I envision big dramatic achievements such as getting an impressive  job, running a marathon or campaigning publicly. But when you rely on fantasies, wait for motivation or life changing epiphanies, you are waiting for something rare to happen, rather than making it happen.

Motivation isn’t going to leap into your life one day. You won’t suddenly change. Wait on God, listen to him, but don’t anticipate sudden changes or inspirations. It’s the everyday, the little actions, the constant effort in pursuing a life for God and making a difference that will result in actions and results. No part of your life is unimportant!

When I first moved to Portsmouth, I planned to learn to drive and start volunteering alongside work. I spent time imagining it and waiting for the opportunity to spring upon me. Instead, the reality of my everyday was getting home from work, food shopping, cooking and going to bed. We all make time for Facebook and a TV series. It’s easy to make time for things that are easy. Although it’s tough and everyone struggles with procrastination we can, if we want, make time for serving God or serving a cause if we do something today and tomorrow!

In every situation, no matter how insignificant, what would Jesus do?  Forgiving, spontaneously buying someone flowers, sharing your lunch, giving someone a lift, texting an old friend or giving to the needy should be a way of life rather than an occasion. God values these little things as much as big jobs, achieving a degree or giving a large sum to charity. It is the  little everyday things that make you who you are. The little things determine what people think of you.

As a Christian it is the consistent little actions that project the image of God. Finally, the ultimate motivation for Christians is Jesus dying for us so that we could enter eternal paradise sin free. He died for the world but if you were the only one, he still would have died for you!

Thank you, Lord, that any burden can be lifted by you. Help us achieve our goals by guiding us through the everyday.

 

By Ella Johnson

Walking in Kindness

We all want to help the homeless, but not that addict over there.

Everyone knows that helping the homeless or the poor is a good and moral thing to do. However, people want to help those who deserve help. We envision showing kindness to a helpless person who has done nothing wrong in their life, someone cold and hungry on the street who will use your spare change responsibly.

However, when you see the person you gave a sandwich or spare change to the other day drinking or out of their head on drugs, you start to question whether they deserved your charity. I’ve heard people say, “there’s a reason they’re homeless” or “don’t give anything; they’ll just spend it on drugs” and “they’ve done it to themselves”.

People want to help an angelic perfect person, not a street beggar addicted to drugs. But I argue this. An addict, a gambler, someone with a troubled past is exactly the person who may find themselves homeless. The angelic street beggar with both impeccable manners and a perfect drug-free past simply doesn’t exist.

You may have endured hardship such as being in care or addictions and think, “well I’m not homeless or begging?” Despite this,  you are not them. Some have the view that street beggars are not helping themselves by taking drugs. Proverbs 31:7 says: “Let them drink to forget their poverty and remember their troubles no more”. This reminds us not to judge the troubled for abusing substances but to acknowledge why they are seeking comfort from such means.

Ephesians 2:4-9: “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works…”. This shows us that we don’t deserve grace, but it is a gift. In the same way, we shouldn’t give to the needy based on whether we think they deserve it or not. Give as God gave us grace – unconditionally and from love. We can’t know or judge whether beggars deserve charity, we don’t know what they’ve been through and we have no right to judge them for their situation. James 4:12: “There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you—who are you to judge your neighbour?”

Lord, I pray that we would see opportunities around us to bless and help people in need. Teach us to think less about ourselves and more about others. Amen.

By Ella Johnson

My Source of Peace. My Source of Joy

Everyone wants joy and peace of mind, right? Sometimes we seek after material things or cling onto people hoping that they will provide these things.

I love reading books and listening to music. During Christmas, I received good books and music. Naturally, I was elated. These gifts gave me temporary happiness. I enjoy spending quality time with friends, and my family bring so much light into my life. However, they are human and need just as much joy and peace as I do.

John 15:5 (NIV)

‘I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.’

Deep down we long for infinite joy and boundless inner- calm. I could turn to many things to achieve this state of being. But none of these compare to knowing Jesus. He is the ‘vine’, an endless supply of joy, peace and strength. My branches would whiter without him. No doubt.

When we give our life to Jesus, salvation and freedom is ours. We can boldly approach his throne. When we communicate with him, he listens and guides ours step when we commit our ways to him.

As we enter his presence and seek him continuously, anxiety shrivels and hope rises. Despairs begins to fade and our hearts are fill with bliss. Terrible days or trial don’t stand a chance in God’s presence because he is the kind whisper that eases the mind and brings deep laughter.

God’s presence never runs out and we can enter it anytime.

God is a living God and in him there is love and hope. In him there is strength. Because God is all these, because these qualities are inherent, somewhere along your journey with Christ his joy and peace becomes your joy and peace. It’s an inner stillness that chooses faith over fear and trust over doubt. It keeps you going through the day and it’s the ultimate source, your life-machine and the sigh of relief that says, ‘I’m not okay but everything will be okay because of his everlasting pleasure and love.’

So maybe you feel spent and deflated. Go back to the source, which is Jesus.

I pray that God refreshes you, both emotionally and physically. I pray for joy in the good and bad times. Amen.