A Simple Summary of Christian Orthodoxy

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How do we summarize the whole of the Law and the Prophets? Christ answered that the greatest commandment is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength, and that the second is to love your neighbor as yourself. We’ve come up with a pithier, sillier summary that I hope you can appreciate (‘ware the profane language, if it concerns you)!

God is Real,

And you owe Him EVERYTHING!

So make Him proud,

And don’t be a dick!

What do we mean by…?

God is Real

We Christians believe that there is but one God, revealed to us in the three persons of the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ (the Son) and the Holy Spirit (and these three are One). This God is not an abstraction but a real and perfect existence, the eternal existence from which all contingent (that is, temporary and reliant on something else) existences come. Without Him was nothing made, for by Him were all things made.

This very real and extant God has made mankind in His image, which means that we possess qualities that He, too, possesses. He has given us reason, a trait not possessed by the beasts, and He has given us morality and conscience that, again, the beasts do not possess. These things he gave us so that we could do His will, in accordance with His ordinances and desires. Further, and perhaps most importantly, he has given us the ability to love and form deep connections so that we can love and connect with Him as well as others.

Our God is a personal God. He walked with the first man, spoke with and to many, and has made his will known to all men (by the law upon our hearts) and in particular to His prophets. This is not to say that he is different to each person, but rather that He is a person who interacts with men and with the world at large.

You Owe Him Everything

First and foremost, we owe God our very existences. Without His creating act, there would be no existence for us to inherit our existences from. Without His gifts to mankind, we would not be unique creatures among creation but rather beasts. Without His direction of the circumstances and actions of life, we would not be born nor be the people that we are. For this, first, we owe Him everything.

Second, we owe Him for the good things in our lives. Our ancestor Adam, the father of all men, sinned against God and unleashed death and destruction in the world. All good gifts are from God, and so without Him we would not only fail to exist but also be instantly destroyed by the destructive and wicked forces of the world, which we have ourselves unleashed and perpetuated. God gives good things to men, both to the righteous and to the unrighteous, and so all men owe Him for any goodness they receive.

Most significantly, though, we who are redeemed owe God for our eternal souls. We were totally depraved, bound to the wickedness and death of the world and unable to do good. Our right and proper sentence for our many transgressions against Him is death and eternal damnation, cast out from the presence of God and destined to suffer in isolation and misery for all of time. He has stayed his hand, so that man might yet live in this world even if they should die and be damned, but also he has made for us a way of redemption in his son Jesus Christ. By the incarnation, suffering, death, and resurrection of Christ, we have been given forgiveness of our sins, and the punishment has been removed from us.

Truly, there is nothing which we do not owe to our God, who makes us to exist, imbues us with any goodness, grants us all good things, and redeems us from the consequences of our own depravity.

Make Him Proud

God has written His law upon our hearts, and he has also given to us the Scriptures and the sound teachings of His ministers. Key among these laws is Jesus’ proclamation that those who love Him must keep his commandments. We who are redeemed are no longer servants of death and destruction, but of a God who is good, giving, merciful, loving, compassionate, and gracious to his creation.

What commandments has he given to us? First, we are to love Him as is his due, for all that he has done and continues to do for us. Second, we are to love our neighbors as ourselves. This second commandment means that we are to instruct those in need of instruction, give generously to those in need, rebuke and correct those who err and sin, and do no wickedness to others that we would not visit upon ourselves.

But, further, we are to prepare for and do those works which God has prepared in advance for us to do. We are to be wise and knowledgeable of the Scriptures, that we might speak boldly and rightly when called upon to preach and testify. We are to develop our skills, so that we might aid others in due time. We are to store up treasures not for ourselves, but so that we might be prepared to give generously to those who have need (while not, ourselves, losing that which we require, which God has given us). We are to know His commands and do them, and in this way we serve as emissaries for the God who has made us his own.

All this we do in His name, working as for Him instead of for men, because He is our Lord who has given so much to us. We are to live in accordance with His laws, to testify with our very beings to His great mercy and grace toward us. We are to work diligently and rightly, so as to testify with our works of the God who has made all things. We are to love, honor, serve, and aid others, to testify to the God who has loved us, granted us honor we did not earn, served us all good things, and aided us in all our endeavors. All this we do to bring praise and glory to our Lord.

And don’t be a dick

What is the converse of pleasing God? Is it not to fail to love Him, and to work iniquity and wickedness toward others?

The colloquial term is harsh, granted, but it carries with it all the things we are not to do. We are not to mock and disparage others, for our God did not so disparage us when we were wicked. We are not to lie, cheat, or steal, for such things bring shame upon us and upon the God we represent. We are not to murder, deceive, or covet, because these things bring recriminations upon us and, by extension, the God who we represent.

Basically, do what is good and shun that which is abhorrent. In this way, we make Him proud and aren’t dicks.

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I have been a false Christian and a pagan, but now I seek to serve the Lord.