Here is the tenth and final chapter of the book, Learning to Walk. It serves as a summary of the previous chapters for those who just want the short version. Again, thank you for you comments, feedback, and input.
There’s a lot here, and it’s not hard to feel overwhelmed. Let me assure you, the Christian life is very simple and that is why this chapter is here. If you’re a bottom line, “just tell me what I need to know” kind of person then this is your chapter!
The Westminster Confession aptly states that “the chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy him forever.” That’s pretty much it. There will be things that come out of that, but in a nutshell, that sums it up beautifully. It’s not about earning anything. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and that is not of yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9). Our need to have a hand in earning our salvation is part of the old, selfish, prideful life which we claim that we are leaving behind through baptism. If you haven’t been baptized as an act of your own desire and will, talk to your pastor and do so. (If you skipped to chapter 10, see the Introduction for more on this).
The two greatest commandments, which are obeyed because of what’s been given, not to gain anything, are:
- Love God with all that you are and do, and
- Love others—without exception.
All our religion, our habits, rituals, and practices, are an expression of our God-given faith and serve as tools to help us grow in our relationship with God.
To grow in this relationship with God, there are four habits we can practice in our personal life that will be very helpful:
- Get to know God better through reading the Bible, living out what we believe, through prayer, and other relationship building habits.
- Learn to talk with, and listen to God. We call that a healthy prayer life.
- Share time with other believers in fellowship. This will broaden your view of God and is important to growing in your faith.
- Make your faith the priority over everything else. This will prosper every other relationship and bring consistency to everything you do.
There are also four basic commitments you will want to make as a part of something bigger: the church. These are:
- Commit to a local church. This is simply a commitment to Jesus and his mission in partnership with a local church family.
- Commit to grow in spiritual maturity. This doesn’t happen by accident, you take responsibility to respond to God’s work in your life.
- Commit to participate in the ministries of the church. This doesn’t mean do everything every time, but it does mean managing your time, talent, and treasure alongside your church family in a way that honors and glorifies God.
- Commit to take ownership of the mission of the church. Jesus called you into his mission and has empowered you to lead others to him. He is at work all around us all the time. We just need to learn to hear his voice and respond, following him into meaningful ministry and service with the church as a support and an encouragement.
That’s the basics. This is the beginning of a fantastic and exciting journey. Remember, your greatest purpose is to know God and to become like him by being with him. Others will encounter God through you as Jesus lives in you (Philippians 2:13). Your charge is to gaze at God and manage the things around you, not the other way around.
Welcome to the family, and I pray that you will find yourself filled by the presence of God, and all the more as you grow in him.