The Christian life involves a number of different aspects. Among the key ones are
* Fellowship with God
* Our relationships with others
* Obedience to God's commands
Many of these things are less visible and harder to talk about than other topics in these essays. However for most Christians they are most important. It is easy to talk about the Trinity, the appropriateness of baptizing infants, Catholic/Protestant differences about justification, and all the rest. The religion newsgroups are filled with such discussion. More conventional news is full of the political side, such as abortion and the rights of homosexuals.
But being a disciple of Jesus is primarily shown in less exciting and visible things, such as learning to live with others, the discipline of daily prayer life, fighting urges for anger, and maintaining sexual purity. These things are largely common to Christians from all traditions.
The GoalChristianity is about personal relationships: with God and with others. When Jesus was asked to summarize his religion, he said that it was loving God and our neighbor. Everything else is a means to that end.
One of the most important terms for Christians is "fellowship". This term covers our life together as Christians. This means first of all that we spend time together, in worship, educational activities, service to others, and just having fun. In addition to their primary goal, these activities help us get to know each other, and to develop into a community. The Bible refers to the Christian community using organic metaphors, such as a vine and a body. It talks about us sharing with each other and supporting each other.
When people think of Christianity they sometimes think of it as a set of prohibitions: "Why do Baptists not have sex standing up? Because it might lead to dancing." Fortunately, this is a joke. However sometimes Christians actually have gotten carried away with rules. Rules of behavior have turned into an end in themselves, rather than ways of protecting us so that we can develop better relationships. However good sense normally prevails in the end.
While rules should never be the focus of Christian life, they do exist. Many people find it hard to understand any kind of self-discipline and any kind of limits on behavior. But Christians do avoid some things in order to allow a deeper and more joyful kind of fellowship. The specific things they avoid will tend to vary over time, depending upon the circumstances. The joke above refers to the fact that at one time a number of Christian groups were opposed to dancing. At that time, the dances had become very sexually suggestive. Thus some Christians saw dancing as an occasion for men to see women as sex objects, rather than an opportunity to develop the sort of fellowship Christians want.