What is Christianity?

“Christianity has not been tried and found wanting;” once quipped G.K. Chesterton, “it’s been found difficult and not tried.”

Christianity has been defined by many different people over the years in a variety of ways.

By definition Christianity “is the religion based on the person and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth.” From that perspective, we understand the importance of the gospel accounts–Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. And we realize why Luke records in the book of Acts that the preachers and apostles went into every city and village preaching that “Jesus is the Christ” (Acts 17:3)

At the heart of Christianity is the gospel message of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Cor 15:1-4). Paul declared Jesus “to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead” (Rom 1:4).

But Christianity more than a message. A sermon preached. Or a religious philosophy. It cannot be reduced to a set of rules, regulations, and rituals. It goes beyond a lofty ideal. It is deeper than a mere examination of “Evidences” proving its validity.

Chesterton’s comment reminds us that Christianity is a life to be lived. Christ calls to us do more than believe. He requires us to belong. To belong to Him. And to His people. “So in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others” (Rom 12:5).

Furthermore, Jesus wants to do more than belong, He desires that we behave. “Let us behave decently,” admonished Paul. (Rom 13:13). To behave properly as members within God’s family (1 Tim. 3:15). And to behave appropriately in our relationships with non-Christians (1 Thess 4:12).

Christianity is a way of life. It is not confined to a church building. It embodies the heart of God. Follows the example of Jesus. And issues itself in the “milk of human kindness” towards our fellow man.

What is Christianity? One writer expressed it succinctly this way:

In the home, it’s kindness.

In business, it’s honesty.

In society, it’s courtesy.

In work, it’s faithfulness.

Toward the unfortunate, it’s pity.

Toward the weak, it’s help

Toward the wicked, it’s resistance.

Toward the strong, it’s trust.

Toward the penitent, it’s forgiveness

Toward the fortunate, it’s congratulations.

Toward God, it’s obedience.

Another unknown author defined Christianity with this simple contrast and Biblical challenge. “It is not what men eat but what they digest that makes them strong; Not what we gain but what we save that makes us rich; not what we read but what we remember that makes us learned; not what we preach but what we practice that makes us Christians.”

–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman

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