What does it mean to be a Christian? Is it a religion? Is it a relationship? Is it a way of life? As I observe what is going on under the Christian umbrella and compare it to the New Testament, it is highly likely Christianity may not be what we think.
Christianity begins and ends with a confession of faith that Jesus is the Christ, Son of the living God (Matthew 16:16; Romans 10:9-10). We are saved by receiving the free gift of salvation by faith (Ephesians 2:8-9). We don’t deserve it and we can’t work for it. With that said, our works are the result of our faith in Christ as Savior and Lord and without works, our faith isn’t authentic (James 2:14-22). In fact, our works are the fruit we bear when we have an abiding relationship with Jesus (John 15:5).
Christianity is a willful acknowledgement of the Lordship of Jesus (Romans 10:9, 13). It is impossible to ignore the Lordship of Jesus and call yourself a genuine Christian. If you say you’re a Christian, you live under the minute by minute direction of Jesus as Lord. Lord means sovereign master. Whatever He says goes. When we become Christians, we surrender our life to Christ (Luke 9:23; Galatians 2:20).
Christianity is a personal and intimate relationship with Jesus the Christ, Son of the Living God. We read and study what the Bible says about Him. We pour out our life to Him in worship. We pray to him in praise, confession, thankfulness and petition (1 Thes. 5:17). We offer Him the first fruits of our labor. As His servants, we do His work in His name in the power of His Spirit. Moreover, we imitate Jesus as we abide in Him (1 John 2:6).
Christianity is not just a relationship with Jesus but a loving relationship. Love is the foundation of our relationship with God. Jesus gave His life on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins as an expression of His love. But how do we express our love for Jesus? Our love for Jesus is proven by our obedience to His commands (John 14:15). Why do we make disciples? Jesus commanded it (Matthew 28:18-20; Acts 1:8). Why do we love God with our entire being and love our neighbor as ourselves? Jesus commands it (Matthew 22:36-40). Why do we love one another? Jesus commands it (John 13:34-35).
Christianity is not something we embrace just because we want to go to heaven. Instead, Christianity is a lifestyle that includes prayer, worship, witnessing, making disciples, giving and serving. To avoid confusion, these aren’t items on a checklist. Furthermore, these aren’t a job description. Instead, these are the natural result of loving God and having an intimate relationship with Him. These are the outflow of a cheerful and thankful heart.
Christianity is lived out in community with other Christians (Acts 2:42-47). Just like our biological family is important for nurturing, mentoring, protection and support, our spiritual family is critical for experiencing brotherly love, encouragement and living out our faith (Romans 12:5; Hebrews 10:24-25).
Over the years I’ve heard many opinions and descriptions of Christianity. Some of what is said, even by those who consider themselves Christians, is inaccurate. Part of the blame is on the heads of Christians because we are often fake and otherwise hypocritical. Instead of a loving relationship, we’ve treated Christianity like a religion and a set of rules. Along with that, instead of loving one another, we’ve treated each other with contempt. Many don’t know what Christianity is because they haven’t seen it modeled by authentic Christians.
Be careful because Christianity may not be what you think. I encourage you to read and study God’s word and put it into practice. Set your mind on becoming an authentic Christian so others can see what it really means to be a Christian.
A Work in Progress,