Christianity faced an uphill struggle for existence during the first three centuries in the common era, but that changed when Roman Emperor Constantine issued the Edict of Milan in 313 c.e. which made Christianity a “tolerable religion” within the empire. For the first time in its history, Christianity was able to function publicly without fear of persecution.
While this sounds like a happy ending (or beginning), it turned out that, absent of open communication throughout the empire, fledgling Christian communities developed a variety of thoughts and actions that they defined as Christian. Questions like, “How do you baptize someone?” or “How do you worship?” and “How do you talk about Jesus?” became important. The results of the diversity of both theology and praxis led to fierce debate about who Jesus was, his relationship to God as the Son of God, and even what constituted Holy Scripture. It became so disruptive that Constantine called for a gathering of church leaders (Bishops). The result was the first Council of Nicaea, held in 325 c.e. The significant results of this first ecumenical council were a resolution on the nature of God and the Christological nature of the Son of God, fixing the formula for establishing the date for Easter and the initial decisions that led to what is called canon law.
The nature of the Godhead is outlined in the Nicaean Creed. It is essentially a listing of Christian belief about God. That’s what creeds do. They list the essential articles of faith.
Lists are important.
I mean, think of what happens when you go shopping with a list versus not having a list!
Another way of thinking about lists is how they function in life-planning. In Steven Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, he writes that one of those habits is beginning with the end in mind. Setting goals, any goals, both large and small are more achievable when one begins with the outcome, the end, in mind. From there you work back to the beginning. The steps you name along the way are the list you make.
Do you make lists?
The reason I’ve been thinking about this lately is that this time of year is a celebration of life-changing events. Graduations. Many of us have been to, or will be attending graduations. Graduations from High School. Graduations from college. Even graduations into retirement! And many of the speeches and Commencement Addresses will focus on what to do next. Many of them will provide lists.
This got me to thinking about what kind of list I could make, what words of wisdom could I share with my congregation? Here is what I came up with.
Pastor Ron’s 10 Words of Wisdom
1.Don’t give up. The world would be a totally different place without you.
2.Be yourself. You are a special child of God.
3.Keep Sabbath. Remember there is a ratio of work to rest: 6-1. Honor the 1.
4.Love is more than romance. It is a daily choice you make through thick and thin.
5.The worst thing that can happen to you is not the last thing that will happen to you. THAT is the message of Easter.
6.Life isn’t fair. But YOU can be fair.
7.Make lists. For shopping, for the day and week, for what you want in a relationship, for whatever.
8.Learn something new every day. You will never run out of learning new things!
9.Trust the process. You are a part of something much bigger than you.
10.Don’t be afraid. There is a power greater than fear. It is the power of love.
So, what’s your list?