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So what is Christianity?
Interestingly enough, opinions vary on the answer. Some suggest a philosophy, others say an ethical stance, while still others claim Christianity is an experience. None of these provide an adequate explanation of the issue. Each, however, is something a Christian has, but not one of them serves as a definition of what a Christian is. Christianity is at its very core a transaction between a person and God. A person who becomes a Christian moves from knowing about God distantly to knowing about Him directly and intimately. Christianity is knowing God.
How to become a Christian is perhaps the more important question.
One of humanity's greatest problems rests with a
deeply embedded notion that if we work hard at being good and religious we can
impress God. This performance narrative is an ongoing story within humanity
suggesting it is indeed possible to perform well enough to merit God’s eternal
favor. Just read through the Bible's Old Testament, generations after
generations try to win God's favor. Humanity's incredibly high opinion
of our ability is a universal trait of human nature and explains why the idea
of works oriented religion is so readily promoted and accepted worldwide.
A works or deeds oriented religion has transcended centuries, continents and
cultures and permeates many religions of the world. Nearly every religious
system in the world when whittled down to its core assertion says faith alone
is not enough. If you want to get to heaven, paradise, nirvana, you’ve got to
do something to earn your way. Some moral, ceremonial, religious act
is necessary to please and appease God. This performance narrative is present
in every religion of the world with the sole exception of biblical
Christianity. Why? Because every other religious system is man made. But
Christianity is unique. It takes us by surprise. It stands alone because its
core assertion is that humanity is sinfully flawed to such a profound degree
we cannot be good enough [perform well enough] to earn the favor of a holy,
righteous, just and sovereign God. There is no ladder to climb, no prayer to
chant, no ceremony to do, no candle to light, no fee to pay, no ritual to
keep. What we need is forgiveness of and a rescue from sin - something we can
not earn, buy or bargain for. Therefore, GRACE – the unmerited favor of God
is our only hope.
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-- not by works, so that no one can boast." [Ephesians 2:5]
Jesus did not come to tell us how to live [what religious rituals and customs to keep] so we can earn eternal life – rather Jesus comes to forgive our sin and rescue us through his life and death in our place. God’s grace does not come to people who morally outperform others, but to those who humbly admit their failure and inability to perform and acknowledge our need of a rescuer…our need for grace.
Grace, not guilt.
Relationship, not religion.
Your path, not your intentions, determines your destination.
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