For thousands of years, Christianity has existed not only as a religion, but as the foundation upon which society itself has been built. In particular, Western Civilization is based upon the values and ideas brought about through Christianity. The concepts of the family, of morality, and of law and order can all be sourced back to Christianity and its teachings. These are the ideas that hold society as we know it together. If these come under threat and begin to dissolve, which is occurring in the modern day, then society itself could collapse, leading to a dystopian world. The ideas brought about through Christianity are important in providing social stability, and so must be preserved and defended against new ideas that threaten their very existence. Political agendas and the quest for power seek to destabilize society, and, if permitted to pervade, will likely achieve as much. Thus begs the question: how do we protect the very foundation of society itself?
To answer this question, we must start at the beginning. Christianity obviously came about as a religion based upon the belief in God and His teachings. In the Old Testament, we see God as a loving Father who creates a beautiful utopia in the form of Earth. He creates the first humans, Adam, and then from his rib forms Eve. The two of them are left in the paradisical Garden of Eden with just one rule: they must not eat the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Yet they fail this task when a serpent comes along and tempts Eve to eat the fruit (in modern culture, the fruit is commonly represented as an apple, however we have no real indication of what type of fruit grew upon the tree). Eve then gives the fruit to Adam, who also consumes it. This is what could be referred to as the first temptation and is the moment that Evil entered the world. It is also the concurrent moment in which Original Sin came into existence, and the beginning of the journey through thousands of years that would lead to the coming of Jesus Christ, His time on Earth, and His ultimate sacrifice that would save us from sin and give us the chance to spend eternal life within the Kingdom of Heaven after passing from this world.
Adam and Eve began as innocent human beings made in the image of God. This is, indeed, how we all start out. The only significant difference between Adam and Eve and other humans is that we are born with original sin. Adam and Eve came into being as man and woman, in the absence of original sin, but gave into temptation. The situation they found themselves is not dissimilar to ones we find ourselves in in the modern day. Indeed, temptation often finds us in this world no matter how much we try to avoid it. Truly, it is not a matter of escaping it, but of confronting it. The origins of sin were brought about by just one human being choosing to give in to temptation. That is, in essence, what it all boils down to: choice.
Within each of us resides the capacity to make choices, including those relative to temptation. This same ability has transcended time, able to be found in most human beings throughout history. Many things that have come about in the world have resulted from the choices of those made before us. The times in which the world finds itself now are the resultants of choices made by certain people (oftentimes politicians and people in positions of power). But if we bring it back to the individual, even our own lives are written by the choices that we make.
The choices we make have the power to change our lives, to varying degrees. This goes back to Biblical times, when the disciples chose to follow Jesus. Jesus did not force them to follow Him but gave them the choice. The disciples made a life-changing choice which would ultimately result in their awakening to the wonders of God’s work, and lead to their deep connection with the Holy Spirit. Now that is not to say the journey they took was an easy one. In fact, Nicodemus, one of the Pharisees (I will explain what these are in the next part of this series) at the time, was also given the same choice but chose not to go (likely partially out of fear). But for the disciples, the journey they took with Christ was highly rewarding. There is an old adage that goes “no risk, no reward”. Oftentimes the toughest journeys are the most rewarding ones.
We all face tough times in our own lives, again to varying degrees. Every one of us, at some stage of our existence, must face our demons if we wish to truly live a fulfilling life. Most of us are likely to have to confront darkness, pain, and uphill battles on multiple occasions. This is a necessary part of life. Indeed, this is what makes us human. As much as we would like to, we cannot just numb ourselves to pain all our lives. If we did that, we would have no means by which to measure the pleasurable moments, those times of joy, elation, excitement, love, of pure happiness. Without the lows, we have no way of measuring the highs.
In essence, we are only human. We are not perfect. We are susceptible to temptation, to pain and suffering. But it is how we deal with these parts of life that matters most. We all have choices to make in our lives. We must carefully determine which ones will take us down the path we wish to travel. Sometimes we will make mistakes. But again, that is a necessary part of life, because without making mistakes we will never learn and grow as human beings.
I have heard on many occasions that in the Old Testament, God was one of wrath, one who would punish His people. To be honest, this is something I could see to be true. However, upon further reflection, In the Old Testament, God is just a loving Father trying to help His people to understand right from wrong, Good from Evil. He does not punish them without first attempting to have them see reason. He presents His people with choices, and has continued to do so throughout history, right up to the present day with us. In the Old Testament, God’s people were punished because they refused to learn and show gratitude. To provide one example, after Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt by parting the Red Sea and travelling forth through it into the desert, something which only occurred with the helping hand of God Himself, it was not long before the Israelites began to complain about being stranded in the desert. Even after they had been freed from slavery, they failed to show gratitude and to trust in God. And sometimes that is all we can do: Trust in God. He will guide us and put us where He wants us to be.
I truly believe this with all my heart. In fact, more so after the events of the last couple of years in my own life. Even yesterday, as I began writing this, I was unsure of the direction it would go in. I was thinking about God in the Old Testament, about how His people were punished. I was, I suppose, attempting to understand it better. I decided to take a break, to step away from writing this for a while. I went to church, attended Mass. It was here, during the homily (for those who are unfamiliar with the structure of the Mass, each weekend there are two readings from various Books of the Bible, and a Gospel reading taken from one of the four Gospels. After these are read, and after the priest has concluded reading the Gospel reading, he gives the homily, a reflection of sorts upon the readings we have heard, often with a central message for the congregation), that I was struck with understanding. For in the homily, the priest explained how God did not punish His people, those same people who wandered the desert. No, God did not punish them. They punished themselves. They did this by failing to learn, by failing to trust in Him. Upon hearing this, I began to better understand the Old Testament and the ways in which God works and grew in my faith.
I have written on previous occasions about how life works in mysterious ways. As a person of faith, I attribute these mysterious workings to God. There have been difficult times in my life where I have found myself questioning my faith. This is not a bad thing. Oftentimes it ends up leading to a deepening in one’s faith. Now, I know there are people who read this blog, who read what I write, who are not necessarily religious, or at least not of the faith. And I’m not going to force it upon you, because that is not my place. Rather, it comes back to choice. It is up to you to determine the way in which you live your life, those you are willing to put your trust in, and whether or not you wish to put your faith in God. I can only be a guide by providing context, deep dives, information, and inspiration on Christianity, on the stories of the Bible, on the faith, and on God and His incredible work.
So, I am endeavouring to begin a journey through the times, stories, and values of Christianity. Throughout the journey I will present Biblical stories, stories from my own faith journey thus far, and analysis on these with important, valuable messages for you to take on board in your own lives, if you so choose. This is going to be the first major series I undertake on this blog, and it’s bound to get interesting. But I hope in doing this I will be able to live their lives by the values found in Christianity, and maybe even to invite God into their own lives and begin a relationship with Him. So, I invite you all to come on this journey with me, to explore the foundation of Western Civilization, to learn more about Christianity, and to hopefully grow as human beings along the way.
This is the first Part of a Series entitled Uncovering Christianity: Exploring the Roots of the West. This series explores the values and ideas originating from Christianity, looking back at Biblical times, and relating them to the modern world. There are central themes to each piece in this series, with key messages throughout to guide you in your own life. The series also looks at some of the threats to the roots of Western Civilization and discuss what can be done to placate them and protect the foundation of society. Keep an eye out for new series pieces each week.
Short disclaimer so my university doesn’t get mad with me: The first paragraph of this piece was written as part of a weekly assessment for a subject entitled Creative Writing, Forms and Structures. It is still my intellectual property, however for reasons pertaining to academic integrity (ie. Prevention of plagiarism as the subject is still in progress), the opening paragraph, although slightly changed from its original form, began as an assessment task. Everything else has only ever been on this blog. This disclaimer will likely be removed at the conclusion of the unit of study.