Things That Matter:
A Guide to Christian Faith. Third Edition.
Edited by Michael R. Weed and
2000. 117 pgs.
ISBN: 9780966632637; 096663263X
Ideal for new converts, seekers, or small group studies.
1-19 copies $3.50 each
20-59 copies $3.30 each
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Table of Contents
1. The Mystery of Life
2. God the Creator
3. The Story of the Old Testament
4. Jesus the Christ
5. The Importance of the Church
6. Why So Many Churches?
7. The Christian Life
8. Beginning the Journey
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The Mystery of Life
Life presents us with many problems.
Every day we have schedules to meet, difficult people to deal with, our
own anxieties to face. Sometimes, in quieter moments, we experience a
fleeting sense of emptiness--a longing for something our words cannot
fully describe; we face the mystery of life itself. We wonder, "What
is the meaning of life? How should I live? What can I hope for?" We
can avoid these questions for a while, but we must finally ask about
things that matter.
Christian faith teaches that our life is not an accident.
We are made for relationship with our Creator. While the Creator does not force
himself upon us, he places intuitions of goodness and truth in our hearts and
minds. We are inescapably moral and spiritual beings. As the Bible says, the
Creator has set eternity in our hearts (Ecclesiastes 3:11).
We act above instinct and impulse; we have minds to
know truth and wills to desire goodness. We build bridges and write poetry. More
importantly, we make choices and commitments that define us as persons. Ultimately,
we are created to seek and to know the One behind all created truths and goods--the
One who is both Goodness and Truth.
Too often we spend our time and our energies ordering
our lives around limited goods and partial truths. Deep within us, however, there
remains a longing for what the world cannot provide, a deep need that the world's
goods cannot satisfy. As Augustine said, our restless hearts find rest only in
Our lives are defined by how we respond to the Creator's
claim on our hearts and minds. Centuries before Christ, Greek thinkers saw that
some goods offer immediate satisfaction; others, to be enjoyed, require time
and effort. "Easy pleasures" are obviously more inviting and popular,
but they are also "lower" or "lesser goods." The choice between
giving our lives to "lower pleasures" or pursuing "higher pleasures" shapes
our entire lives.
Pursuing the easy pleasures prevents us from developing
the habits of character necessary to enjoy life's higher pleasures. Pursuit of
the greater goods and higher truths equips us with virtues like self-control,
courage, and justice for living good and noble lives.
Both playing the piano and watching TV bring enjoyment,
but TV-watching involves no particular skill; playing the piano requires hours
of practice and a number of skills. A person who learns to play the piano also
learns the importance of discipline, hard work, and patience. TV watching, by
contrast, may encourage expectations of instant gratification, foster impatience,
and dull our critical faculties.
Tragically, modern culture distracts our attention from
life's nobler pursuits. We are constantly offered an ever-changing menu of easy
pleasures. Shallow and twisted models of the good life abound. Advertising invites
us to acquire more things that meet artificial "needs." The flickering
images of movies and TV constantly distort and trivialize life's deeper meanings.
We live in a world that exchanges living nobly for living
well. We are more concerned with air pollution and calories than with moral corruption
and character. Dissatisfaction and impatience drive us in endless pursuit of
the new and the different. Many are anxious and confused, torn by conflicting
desires and impulses.
Some of us seek relief by finding meaning in a career,
or in our families, or in civic activities. Many give their lives for noble causes.
Patriotism, for example, draws on our sense of honor and duty in ways that bar-hopping
and dog-racing do not. Still, even these greater goods do not satisfy the emptiness
and longing in our hearts.
Some do turn to "religion" or "spirituality," but
they do so for the same reasons they join the Little League or PTA: "it's
nice to belong to something," "it's good for the children." "Religion" simply
fills a small space in otherwise full and busy lives. Here, "religion" is
only one among several other goods; it is not a life-defining commitment which
shapes and orders all our other commitments. In fact, religion may even be viewed
as useful in gaining other goods to which we are really more committed – health,
success, or even family.
All of these efforts only partially mask our longing
for something deeper; they do not satisfy that longing. Our various causes, especially
the more noble ones, dimly reflect something else. They point to our need for
a relationship with our Creator – a need that cannot be satisfied by anything
within the creation. Our many truths and our various goods ultimately find their
intended meaning only in the One who is their source.
C.S. Lewis warns us that only if we put first things
first may we truly enjoy "second things." To ignore first things, or
to pursue second things as if they were first things, is to lose both. We must
finally ask, "What really matters?"
This book is for those who are wondering what really
matters. It is for those who are seeking a deeper meaning in their lives, who
want new hearts and a new beginning. It is also for those who have found new
meaning in Christ and want to deepen their understanding. This book points the
reader to the answers to our deepest longings offered by Christian faith; it
introduces what Lewis called "mere Christianity."
More specifically, the book introduces the reader to
the creator described in the opening pages of the Bible, to his covenant recounted
in the Old and New Testaments, and to the community that lives in covenant with
God through Christ today.
with the Christian conviction that God created the world and the importance
of this conviction for understanding the meaning of our lives.
Chapter 3 traces
the story of the Old Testament. Here we learn about God's choice
Israel as his people and Israel's response to God.
Chapter 4 goes
to the heart of the Christian faith, the story of the Son of God,
of Jesus, recorded in the New Testament, is called the "gospel," or "good
news." It is in the life of Jesus that the purposes of God for
us are fully revealed.
Chapter 5 tells
us about the church that Jesus established through his life, death,
It is in Christ's church that the Father of Jesus Christ continues
today to reveal His will for us, to restore us to Himself, and to
enable us to live according to His purposes.
Chapter 6 describes
the development of the Christian church through the centuries. It further
why we find so many different kinds of churches today.
Chapter 7 shows how
the biblical faith transforms our moral lives. Living in response to the
revelation in Jesus Christ, Christians can live new, different, and
fully human lives.
Biblical faith offers answers to the deep questions of life. Too
often these "big" questions
are crowded out by the many distractions of our busy age. This book is for those
who are aware of life's problems and questions, who find no comfort in the trivial
diversions of modern society, who even suffer despair and loneliness.
Chapter 8 commends
the Christian faith as the way to a life that satisfies our minds and
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