What is Christianity?

"Christianity has come to represent a way of life that centers on man's fellowship with the sovereign God of the universe.  This fellowship is realized through faith in God's Son”the crucified, resurrected, and exalted Jesus Christ.  The word Christianity does not appear in the Bible, which is held to be God's revelation to man.  But it is an adaptation of the word "Christian, which denotes a follower of Christ.


Christianity rests upon the premise that the Creator of the universe made humans in his own image.  They are distinct from animals, who share with them many physical traits.  Not only are humans of superior intellect to the animals, they were created to enjoy fellowship with God through God-like thoughts and behavior.  The first humans were tempted by Satan, a fallen angel.  They choose a path of self-reliance rather than loyalty to God.  The consequence was an estranged relationship with their Maker.  But God immediately set out to "redeem them and other humans yet to follow.  He would ultimately reconstitute those who fell short of his glory in holiness and righteousness.  This restoration could only be brought about by an act of God.  This act, purposed by him before creation, took the form of promise (to Abraham) and ultimate fulfillment in Jesus Christ.


That part of the Bible knows as the "Old Covenant, the "Hebrew Scriptures, or the "Old Testament describes the ebb and flow of God's dealings with mankind.  Across the years, man's attitudes and behavior provoked both divine blessing and judgment.  In time, God provided the ultimate gift of his love in the form of his Son, incarnated in flesh and blood.  Jesus was born a Jew, the object of God's promise to Abraham.


Proclaimed to be the long-awaited Messiah, in the "Greek Scriptures or "New Testament, or "New Covenant, Jesus was rejected by his own people.  His teaching about the nature of God's spiritual kingdom led to his crucifixion.  Since he was the Son of God, Jesus was raised from the dead and ascended to heaven to sit at the right hand of God.


Following Jesus' ascension, the Holy Spirit of God was sent to guide twelve disciples of Jesus in their teaching.  God's intention to bring sinners”both Jews and Gentiles”into a holy relationship with himself through Jesus Christ was announced with these final instructions of Jesus, "Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.  And surely I will be with you always, to the very end of the age (Matthew 28:19-20).


As the message of salvation in Jesus spread from Jerusalem across the Roman world and beyond, communities of believers (Christians) sprang up.  These "churches (individual congregations or communities of believers) formed a single universal "church, the spiritual body of Christ.  The church brought together people of every ethnicity and social standing into a common communion.  Having come to believe that Jesus is the Son of God, they repented (turned from) their sinful life-style, confessed their faith in Christ, and were immersed in water for the forgiveness of their sins.  Baptism (total immersion of the believer in water) symbolizes death to the old life.  It becomes the point of contact with the blood of Jesus in his death.  When raised from the watery grave of baptism, the person becomes a new person in Christ.  It is here that every believer receives an indwelling of God's Spirit.  The Holy Spirit becomes simultaneously God's guarantee to the Christian and the enabling of the Christian in his spiritual walk.


The expectant life of the Christian is one that manifests love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.  Thereby, human relationships are tempered.  Relations with human institutions and non-Christians are conditioned by the gospel.  They are loyal citizens and contributors to the general welfare of society.  Christians become servants of others in the manner that demonstrates their service to their Lord.


As a community, Christians pray, lift thankful voices to God in song, share their possessions, encourage one another, and engage in a simple fellowship called "the Lord's supper.  This supper or communion consists of eating unleavened bread (which represents the body of Christ) and drinking a portion of wine or grape juice (which represents the blood of Christ).  In the supper, participants recall the crucifixion and the Lord's promised gathering of them to himself at the end of the world.


The grace the Christian has himself received, he endeavors to share with others.  The Christian often faces persecution from those who oppose honesty, selflessness, a high expectation for moral behavior, and the idea that one reaches fellowship with God through Jesus Christ.  In such instances, the Christian assumes the attitude of Christ, who assumed the role of a servant and died for the sinner.


Mac Lynn