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What is Christianity
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Easter is on Sunday.  For Christians, this is the most important event on the Christian calendar; Christmas, of course, is important too, for we celebrate the birth of Christ but without his death and resurrection, there is no Christianity.  It is simply just another “belief system” or “religion.”

We all know – or we all should know – the Easter story.  Christ was handed over to Pontus Pilate and went through a mock trial.  He was handed over to Roman soldiers and crucified on a Roman cross – at the time an instrument of cruel punishment and death – between two thieves.  After he died, his body was taken down and put in a borrowed grave and a large stone was rolled over it.  A guard of Roman soldiers was stationed at the tomb.  But on the third day Christ was indeed raised from the dead and brought back to life by God.

This tenant of Christianity – that Christ died for our sins and conquered death by rising from the grave to life – is central to the faith.  And by simple acceptance of Jesus the Christ and belief in him we can have eternal life.  I Peter 1:3-4 sums up his resurrection and why it was necessary:

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade.”

Above I put “belief system” and “religion”  in quotation marks because I do not believe that Christianity is either.  It is not like other “religions” or “belief systems”  simply because it does not fit into either category.

So, what is Christianity?

Christianity is a very personal and very real relationship with the true, living God and his son Jesus Christ.  No other belief system or religion can claim that.  Look at our Muslim friends and their religion.  Their belief in their god – Allah – is devoid of any personal relationship.  They don’t even know if, at the end of their lives, where they are going.  They have to guess.  Ask a devout Muslim if he or she will go to heaven and their honest answer will be “inshallah” translated as “if god wills it.”  That is because our Muslim friends must follow a strict set of rules and regulations and if they fail, well, they do not get to heaven.  Not so with Christianity.  A believing Christian is guaranteed life everlasting because of the resurrection of Jesus by simply accepting the free gift of salvation.

Christianity is God reaching down to man –  in the form of Jesus the Christ God became man and lived among us.  He was fully man and fully God, something very hard to understand unless you simply take it on faith.  But all other religions are man reaching up to God, an impossible task.  Man can never reach God, man always falls short.

But too often we who call ourselves Christians think that we practice just another religion or belief system.  It is a system of “don’t do this” or “do this” a system of rituals and rules.  Too often we equate it as being equally valid with other “religions.” Too often we think of a distant and impersonal God who is far away from us.

Nothing, of course, could be further from the truth.  Throughout the Bible we are told that God knows our name and names, as we all know, are our identity.  God knew our name and all about us long before we were even born, long before the earth, the universe or even the concept of time existed.  God knows who we are and desires a very real and very personal relationship with us.  A direct relationship which we can experience anytime, anywhere, through prayer and through worship (song, fellowship with other Christians, at church, etc.).

Above all, Christianity is a relationship of love.  The expression “God is love” is true.  A relationship with God and his son Jesus Christ is a relationship of love.  God gives his love freely to all mankind – those who deserve it and those who do not.  “For God so loved the world,” is probably one of the most famous phrases from the New Testament (John 3:16). And as I have written about in the past, you can only achieve true and lasting peace (in your family, among your friends, in your city, between countries) if you love your neighbor.  I wrote the other week that “when we love our neighbors as ourselves, and when we love our God, we can learn to live together in peace.” But notice there is a requirement there – we must love God first.

The good news is that we can love God because he first loved us by sending his son, Jesus Christ, to be born, to live, to die and – most importantly – to be resurrected from the dead.  That is true love.  And that is the central tenant of Easter and Christianity.

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Jason Miko
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