The Christian Life in 3 Simple Phrases

Have you ever heard someone say something you’ve not been able to shake? Something that has changed your life and become part of you?

That almost never happens to me. (I have a terrible memory, so remembering what people say is pretty near impossible if I don’t journal within twenty-four hours!)

But there’s one sentence from this past year that has lodged in my gut and changed my days—possibly even the course of my life—ever since I heard it:

The Christian life is simple. Love God, love people, and repent and believe the gospel when you fail.

The Christian Life Made Simple

A pastor spoke these words simply as I sat in a circle of complete strangers (you can read about that story here).

What I want to communicate now is that this truth has been changing my thoughts and actions ever since I heard them. And I think they’ll do the same for you.

See, for years I’ve scurried around trying to chip away at my to-do list. But just when I’d eliminate one task, three more would pop up.

So I’ve lived with the mentality that “after my work is done, I’ll rest.” (All that did was result in a giant physical and emotional crash several years ago.) But recently God has used other means—as well as this one, simple sentence—to calm my anxious heart and change my whole approach to the Christian life.

Instead of hitting the ground running each morning in an effort to tame my beastly to-do list, I’ve realized that my task for each day is simple: Love God, love people, and repent and believe the gospel when I fail.

Where did this pastor get this idea? Probably from Jesus. When Jesus was asked what the greatest commandment was, this is how He responded:

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets” (Matt. 22:37–40).

What It’s All About

This is what the Christian life is all about. Our Creator made us in His image. He has charged us with living like Him, the God of love. But we have failed. Big time.

God knew we would. And so because He is love, He has made a way for us to be transformed.

He sent His Son to live a life of love toward God and others in our place. While Jesus loved mankind perfectly, we spit in His face. Rejected Him. Left Him for dead.

But Love is stronger than the grave, and He rose victoriously, securing a forgiven past and a brand-new present and future for all who would trust in Him.

That’s not all. He hasn’t left you to muster up love for Himself and for others on your own. He has given His Spirit to all who trust in Him—this Spirit who just naturally produces love.

So if you’re anxious like me, I have good news. You can breathe deep. The Christian life is simple, really:

Love God.
Love others.
Repent and believe the gospel when you fail.

Okay, it’s your turn to talk. How does this simple summary of the Christian life focus and/or redirect your hectic life? Do you need to repent of not loving God and others and believe the gospel—that in Christ you are forgiven? What can you do today to cooperate with the Spirit in you in loving God and others?

About Author

Paula Marsteller

Paula no longer tries to catch guys' attention by swallowing live goldfish, arm wrestling, and jumping down flights of stairs. (She's married to a wonderful man now!) She spends her days caring for her son, Iren, and writing for Revive Our Hearts. She's the author of Confessions of a Boy-Crazy Girl: On Her Journey from Neediness to Freedom, and she and her family live in New York. You can catch all her writing on PaulaWrites.com.

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  • Tabitha Chen

    Wow! I always knew that I should love God and believe the gospel, but loving people is a little bit surprising to me. I mean, I know we’re called to love one another, but I just didn’t think of it as a primary task. I love the simplicity of these three tasks.

    • Tabitha Chen

      By the way, it’s great to see a post from you Mrs. Marsteller!

  • genesis herrera

    It sounds so simple, but yet I can’t help but feel like there’s so much more for me to do. Like i need to be perfect also in this christian life. i know no one is perfect, but perfect as in i need to live up to this christian standard in order to be this ‘honorable christian’. when i fail, i feel like a HUGE disappointment to God and it stresses me out and the cycle continues. any help on this one?

    • Lilian S.

      no one is perfect, friend. just say it out to God, and relieve your heart of your burden. let Jesus carry it. hope that helps. *hug*

      • genesis herrera

        it does. and i’m trying. i’ve always had a hard time believing and feeling like I’m enough. i’m really trying to let go of this thou.

        • Lilian S.

          praying for you.

          • genesis herrera

            <3 thanks 🙂

  • Emily Anderson

    My brain cannot put my thoughts into words, but I can say thank you. Thank you for being obediant and not listening to the devil.

  • Erika

    Thank you so much!
    Love God.
    Love others.
    Repent and believe the gospel when you fail. <3

  • Eve

    Thank you for the post! It was really helpful! 🙂

  • Brenda

    The Gospel is so central to every part of a Christians life. Love God and love others helps us to not be so self-absorbed.

  • Jazziejazz

    I heard a preaching using this bible verse as well. But another important thing I would like to add is that in that verse he teaches us that we need to allow him to love us, then love him, and before we can love others we have to love ourselves! God bless you all!!

    • Margo Kerby

      The bible doesn’t have to tell us to love ourselves because we’re already self-centered because of the fall. Loving ourselves is taught by humanist psychologists, not Scripture. In fact, Jesus tells us to love our neighbor “as” ourselves. This is because He knows we already love ourselves. Hope this makes sense to someone.

      • Jazziejazz

        Thank you for your response but if we already loved ourselves, then please explain why their is so much depression and suicide? Through God’s love we learn to love ourselves and accept that we are his creation. Then in turn we can loves others the way he likes loves us.

  • Mah

    I am super anxious and I have to force myself to remember that everything on this Earth will pass. On that day when we will be before God, what will really matter is how we glorified and honored Him here.
    This thought helps me to read the Bible after a long day or when I’m not “feeling like it”, for example.

    Thank you for the post. God bless you always 🙂