It is a stark reality that we have very few books on how to begin the Christian life. How do we actually start? I think that mostly that is because we assume that once you reach the point of needing a book, you have had conversations, gotten involved in a church, or at least watched some television or youtube videos. But, there are a few people I know who began right their journey through a call of Christ or Spirit nudge and just picked up the first book they could find and started looking. That is difficult.
First, if you begin with the Bible, it can be hard to know where to start, read sequentially beginning to end, Jesus shows up in the later chapters; and then the story is told four times in a row, from four different perspectives, when they aren’t just repeating themselves. Most other books are either written from inside the game, like baseball books full of assumptions about what you already know, but I cannot tell my Lefty from my Ty in baseball, so why should I expect a new person of faith to know their Theresa of Avila from their Mary of Magdalene?
Second, there are so many Christians and so many denominations, teams within the same league, playing the same sport, but with very different styles and focusses that anyone not already on a team feels left out or pressured to join up when they barely can spot the ball hurling at them.
I want you to begin with the dream of God for all creation and humanity’s roll in it, according to the Bible. Then we can put some basic pieces together and begin to see where we went wrong and what we get right and why God is so awesome in all those songs. I want to be open enough that you get a true sense of the game we all kind of assume is being played in the field, but I also want to explain where my biases are along the way, so you can see what is me versus the church or Church you might meet elsewhere. I want you to get a sense of Christianity, as well as my version and see what lines up for you.
I also want to say thank you for coming to Christ. Letting Christ be your way, your truth, your life is still the most amazing things you can do with your life and your family and world. I grew up within the church, in a faithful if quirky family that was pretty typical American Christians. So I am in awe of those who find the faith later in life. Let me be a tour guide for a while in the city of God for you, for I love it so and so will you.
About the title: there is a story about a Elijah, the great prophet, retiring. His successor was a man named Elisha, who followed him as Elijah journeyed out to the wilderness to die. When they got to where Elisha was supposed to turn back, Elijah asked him a question: Let me have a double portion of your spirit. This was not Elijah’s to give: Spirit is God-given, so Elijah said, but then gave him his mantle, this woolen larger garment worn over his linen undies. This Elisha took back with him. He used it to part the creek and wore it as a sign of his office and lineage with Elijah.
I want to wear the mantle of Christ, and I want you to too. I want a uniform so people know what to expect of me. I want to represent Christ and therefore God well.