I was asked to write this for a publication (by friends) that is planned explaining what different major religions are. Not for evangelism – but for information. Quite a challenge!
I might have done it in one short phrase: Christianity is Christ.
But here’s what I wrote. Take a look – and perhaps write your own version!
PS – I am not asking you to respond or critique what I have written – just thought you might be interested and could try your own!
What is Christianity?
More than two billion followers of Jesus Christ are found on every continent and almost every country of the world. They belong to many traditions – Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant, and various independent movements. While their practices and institutions may differ, the essential message is the same.
Yet Christianity is less a religion than a way of life, a calling to know, love, and serve God and others through Jesus Christ. This call is revealed in the Bible’s story of the one true and living God who made and sustains all things by his power, and forming humans in his image to reflect his goodness and glory.
When humans chose to turn from God’s way, God acted to reconcile them to himself, making a covenant through Abraham for Israel to bless all people. When they failed, God’s steadfast love for the world did not fail.
God communicates love and longing for all to know him in many ways, and supremely in Jesus Christ. In him the fullness of God is seen in human flesh. Jesus came to announce the kingdom of God, and bring good news of salvation to all who would receive him.
Jesus taught and did many signs as the promised Messiah. As the prophets predicted he suffered, and died on the cross, taking on himself the sins of the world. He was raised from the dead, and told his disciples to proclaim the good news to the world, calling others to follow Him.
Religion is a human effort to reach God. Jesus Christ is God offering us what we cannot earn, salvation by grace through faith, the free gift of forgiveness of sin and power to live a new life. Grace is then the inspiration for us freely to love others.
Through Jesus we know the one true God as Father who creates, as Son who saves, and as the Holy Spirit who empowers and guides believers to continue God’s reconciling work in the world.
In Jesus Christ believers find a new identity which can transform the cultures, traditions, and religions they have known. As signified in baptism, they are a new creation in Christ.
Jesus’ two great commandments are to love God and our neighbors as ourselves. Followers of Christ are to be people of faith, hope, and love. Yet they confess their sins regularly, knowing they are not perfect but on the way with Christ.
They believe Jesus Christ will return to complete God’s great salvation in a new heaven and earth filled with God’s goodness, and that his redeemed people will live with him forever.
Living in this faith, hope and love, Christians pray, tell the good news of Jesus, and act to show God’s love, healing grace, and justice in their daily lives.
They pray humbly: “Forgive us our trespasses.”
And hopefully: “Come, Lord Jesus.”