I know what you’re thinking, you can’t believe someone you know well or not at all has shared this with you. I totally understand the need for an eye-roll right about now. Maybe they do need some coaching when it comes to appropriate social media behavior. But just for a moment, let’s assume good intent on their part. Let’s assume they shared this with you because they really do care about you. Maybe they even love you.
They have probably already read everything that’s in here. They know this isn’t a “finger-wagging” type of rant. I despise those kinds of communication tactics myself, so this isn’t going to be that. This is more of a “wondering aloud” type of reflection.
I have non-Christian friends and family members whom I care for deeply, so I’m actually writing this as though they will read it. And the first thing I would want them to ponder with me is this: do you really know what Christianity is?
This question isn’t meant to be insulting or patronizing. The reason I ask it is that there are people who call themselves “Christians” and attend church most Sundays who don’t know what Christianity really is. If they don’t and they’re around it all the time, do you know? I have often wondered if those who don’t want to be Christians know what they don’t want to be.
One of the big misunderstandings that exists out there is that Christians are those people who work really hard to be good, nice, and fair and God rewards them for this behavior. You might be surprised to find out, that’s not Christianity!
Christianity isn’t “I obey, therefore I’m accepted.” Christianity is, “I’m accepted, therefore I obey.”
The difference seems small, but it's actually ginormous! Understanding the difference is the key to deciphering the line between real Christianity and “fake” Christianity.
Take the first definition: “I obey, therefore I’m accepted.” Imagine living as if this is Christianity. There are numerous irritating questions I would live with each day. Like, “How much do I have to obey in order to be accepted?” “Do I ever reach a point where the amount of my disobedience becomes too much to overcome?” “How can anyone live under the uncertainty of not knowing where they stand?”
These are irritating questions. If this is what Christianity was, I wouldn’t want any part of it.
But in actuality, the Scriptures define Christianity very differently. Let's look at each of these questions:
How much do I have to obey in order to be accepted?
Too much obedience is required for any human being to gain God’s acceptance through their moral performance (Ephesians 2:8-9; 2 Timothy 1:9). In the New Testament, we are told we are worse off than we can imagine so our moral accomplishments come up woefully short. The reality is: I’m not a Christian because I’m obedient and moral.
Do I ever reach a point where the amount of my disobedience becomes too much to overcome?
No. This is the beautiful thing about NOT being saved by my moral performance. My past moral performance is irrelevant to becoming a Christian (1 Timothy 1:16). Nobody is unsavable!
How can anyone live under the uncertainty of not knowing where they stand?
Christians don’t have to live with uncertainty. Because Christians know they aren’t saved by their moral accomplishments, they aren’t prone to a fluctuating view of themselves that vacillates with their moral ups and downs.
To wrap this up, let me try to explain the second definition: "I’m accepted, therefore I obey.”
How do I come to be accepted? We’ve already seen, we aren't accepted by God because we’re good, nice, and fair. So how exactly does that happen? In short, through Jesus.
Here is the most concise definition of Christianity I know:
Christianity, real Christianity is: Jesus lived the life I should have lived and died the death I should have died so that when I put my faith in him, I credit for all of it.
I’m not saved by my moral performance…I’m saved by Jesus’ moral performance.
When I put my faith and trust in Jesus alone for my salvation, I get credit for the life he lived and the death he died.
Seem too good to be true? Well, it’s certainly too good, but it’s not too good to be true. In fact, the “too good” part of Christianity is what makes it the most unique religion in the world today. The “too good” part of Christianity can be summed up in a single word: grace. Christianity is the only religion in the world today that demonstrates grace on a level like this.
That’s enough for now. At the very least, I hope you have a better understanding of what Christianity is and isn’t. If you don’t want to be a Christian, that’s fine. I would just hate for you to reject it based on a faulty definition of it.