Internet Links to God

``Come to me, all you who are weary from carrying heavy loads; I'll give you rest! Take my yoke and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble by heart; then you'll find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my load is light.''
(Matth. 11:28-30)


If you look for a written guide to Christian living, my recommendation would be the book by E. Stanley Jones, Victorious Living. The 366 sections (one for each day, if you take a slow course) start off with discussing your doubts about God, and when you cooperate, the book brings you a long way towards turning the message of Jesus into a strong force governing your everyday life. (This is out of print, but there are used books on sale on the web. Perhaps someone with connections to Christian publishers can convince them to issue a new edition! This book is really by far the best introduction to Christianity I have seen for the serious seeker with a wide horizon, and makes even valuable reading for the experienced Christian.)

But if you are prepared, becoming a Christian does not take a long course; it simply amounts to the decision to hand over your life to the caring hands of Jesus Christ, accepting his forgiveness for whatever you did wrong (i.e., against His will), trusting that He will guide you in the future, and accepting this guidance.


To facilitate this decision, many people recommend to go through the Four Spiritual Laws and for some people I know this indeed was the eye opener. However, to me (and maybe to many scientists) this approach feels somewhat unnatural, and my own way to Christ went more along the lines recommended below.


How to become a Christian

If you contemplate to become a Christian, and like to follow my advice, let's start with a little virtual reality. Imagine yourself telling God: This was just role play. Now check out whether this correctly represents your interest. If not, modify the above text, change and add what is important to you, until it expresses what you really want. This is very important. You are killing the spirit if you are not true to yourself when communicating with God. It is also important that you include an explicit expression of your willingness to have God as your boss. Authority conflicts between God and yourself are a major source of weakness in the life of Christians.

Now address to God what you worked out to be your true desire, by reading it aloud to Him. It is important to realize that now the situation is real, not just let's suppose. Feel free to be yourself, pausing, commenting on, reflecting on what you say as you proceed - just as you would do if you had written a letter to your best friend and, just as you finished, he opens the door, and you enjoy telling him what you were writing up. God will hear, and he'll reply.

''You will seek me and find me when you seek with all your heart.''
(Jer. 29:13)


Note that, being spiritual, God usually does not respond in words, but by changing your perception, motives, desires, attitudes and actions. God gives power to live a truthful life. ''The kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power.'' (1 Cor. 4:20)

You'll be surprised about God's response. (I was, too, though everything took a while to unfold.) Life becomes an adventure, God will become your friend, and you'll change and enjoy the peace and the freedom of the children of God.

''To all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to be children of God.''
(John 1:12)

What you'll have learned at this point is a constructive way of what Christians call prayer, two-way communication with God.


How to Read the Bible with Profit

You'll probably find that you need more information before or after contacting Him - read the New Testament (and the Old Testament later, too). [By the way, God is neither male or female; but tradition uses the form `he' to speak of God, just as `she' is used to speak about ships, say.] Just ignore passages you can't make sense of, and concentrate on what you do understand. This is more than enough.

Most of the New Testament, especially the first 5 books (that are full of stories), make very easy reading, e.g., in the translation of J.B. Phillips, The New Testament in Modern English; the site hosting this gives also access to many other translations, and into many languages. For the Old Testament, reading is at times more difficult: there are many passages that are boring for most modern people, but there is lots of interesting stuff, too.

While you read, take special interest in noting

Find out what you can learn from God and His people, and - by way of negative example - from His enemies. This will help you understand how God relates with you in your everyday life.

Be careful about becoming dogmatic; be as critical as you always were, and perhaps even more. Don't mistake authoritative Christian views of God's will for what God really wants; there is a subtle difference. Christians (even authorities) are human beings and may misunderstand God once even when they have been 99 times correct. Listen to the advice of fellow Christians, but check out with God what they are saying: You have to give account of your actions, not they. (There is a very instructive story about this in the bible, 1 Kings 13.) Use your freedom but don't misuse it (Rom. 14:1-15:2).

And be careful about becoming conceited. When I became a Christian, trying to take seriously the teachings of Jesus, I noticed that most Christians didn't seem to do so, and I felt that my Christianity was much better than theirs. God taught me otherwise, and I had to pay dearly for my arrogance. The fact that God gives you a special measure of strength and uncompromising spirit is not your achievement but His special gift intended to bring you safely through the time of bringing your inner world into agreement with God. Once you are settled, you may expect a fading of this automatic shielding from adversities; God will want to test how much you can carry for Him, and you can be sure that He tests you to your limits.

To ensure that your faith is in Christ and not in human beings or religious rituals, take care; some of the advice Christians give tries to make you not just Christian but to convert you to their particular version of Christianity. Such differences can be recognized by checking whether advice received binds you to Jesus Christ or to a church.

You might also want to check out what Dan Jenkins has to say about discipleship, how to know God's will in your life, and other topics helpful for maintaining a strong relationship with God, and through Him with people. Other useful pages are those by the geologist Lambert Dolphin.


If you have questions, talk it over with a friend, or contact me.
My Views on the Christian Way of Life
Science and Faith
On Christianity
Interesting Homepages of Christians
Some Challenging Essays found on the Web
my home page (http://www.mat.univie.ac.at/~neum)

Arnold Neumaier (Arnold.Neumaier@univie.ac.at)