Cornerstone

“Without clarity on the basics of the Christian life—the things that all Christians are called to do—you will either be paralyzed with insecurity (‘Am I doing enough?’), weighed down with discouragement (‘I’m not doing enough’), or confused and apathetic (‘Who knows if I’m doing enough?’).”

Many Christians are unclear about the basics of the Christian life. And it’s no wonder. Between sermons, books, conferences, conversations, devotionals, podcasts, articles, and more, the amount of information about Christian living is overwhelming. In just a few months of sermons, blogs, and articles, you might be told to pray without ceasing while learning deeper theology as you share the gospel in a culturally relevant way during your shift serving soup at a homeless shelter...and that’s just four things.

Without clarity on the basics of the Christian life—the things that all Christians are called to do—you will either be paralyzed with insecurity (“Am I doing enough?”), weighed down with discouragement (“I’m not doing enough”), or confused and apathetic (“Who knows if I’m doing enough?”).  

If we want to avoid these pitfalls we have to get clarity on the basic Christian life. Jesus points us towards that clarity in the greatest commandment:

And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”  
-Matthew 22:35-40

The lawyer in the passage above is an expert in the Jewish Law, the Old Testament. His question is basically this: “Which of the many commandments in the Old Testament is most important?” In other words, which commandment should we obey above all the others?  

Jesus’ answer is different than expected. Instead of choosing one commandment and raising it above all the others, he picks two commandments that encompass all the others. All the commandments in the Old Testament depend on loving God and loving your neighbor.  

Jesus shows us how we can take all the various things we are told in the Bible and put them into these large categories: love for God and love for others. If you think of any Bible passage you’ve read, any sermon you’ve heard, any devotional you’ve studied, it fits into one of these large categories.

As you engage with the Bible through the lens of the greatest commandment, you find even more depth. The ways we are instructed to love God tend to fall into three sub-categories: Bible (listening to and learning from God), Prayer (speaking and relating to God), and Heart Work (internalizing and applying what God says). Love for others also contains three sub-categories: Community (loving relationships with Christians), Mission (loving relationships with non-Christians), and Calling (your unique roles and responsibilities like your job, family, and finances).   Other parts of the Bible tell us why we should love God and others (gospel motivation) and where this love for God and others is leading us (towards Christlikeness).

At Cornerstone, we’ve put these elements together into a diagram we call the Discipleship Pathway, found below. It’s a helpful way to conceptualize this basic Christian life. And in future posts, we’ll elaborate on different parts so that we can all have clarity on what it means to live as a Christian.

Next in series: Gospel Motivation >>

Brian Colmery

Brian serves the church by overseeing preaching and Sunday morning services at Cornerstone.

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