Denominations. Cultures. Traditional vs. contemporary. Grace vs. good works. Community. Just love everyone. What is Christianity really about anyway?
Controversy has been a part of Christianity ever since Jesus ascended back to heaven. It took some time for Jewish and Gentile believers to work through what was essential and what wasn’t. Persecution pressed the believers to carry the good news farther and farther until the then-known world was turned upside down. (Acts 17:6) Even so, nothing could stop them.
What was it about having been with Jesus that so changed the first believers? What was it that so burned in their souls? What was it that continued to compel the gospel forward in the face of both internal conflict and external opposition?
If you had to sum up Christianity in one word, what would it be?
Several words have been suggested:
- Kingdom of God
All those are of course correct. God is love. And Jesus said, “I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself.” (John 12:32) Christianity is absolutely all about Jesus. If He is not at the center, nothing else matters!
But how do you describe what this is all about? The words listed above seem to lack a certain power, unless you look deeper. What does believing in Jesus do for us? What would you tell someone who knew nothing of Jesus about what difference believing in Him would make?
The word I would like to suggest is – LIFE!
The disciple who perhaps knew Jesus best wrote, “But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” (John 20:31)
Jesus Himself said, “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10)
So Jesus came to give us life! That sounds invigorating. And what does that life look like? Here are just a few things that can mean:
- If you’re feeling stuck and dead because of your destructive lifestyle (in Christianeze, “sins”), Jesus offers to wipe your previous life clean and give you a new life of freedom. (Ephesians 2:1)
- If your body is weak, broken, sick, or old, Jesus offers you physical life – both strength for your physical body now, and an eternal physical life in heaven forever. (Romans 8:11)
- If you’re lonely, miserable, anxious, rejected, or alone, Jesus offers you love – unconditional and eternal. (John 6:37)
- If you’re struggling with doubt, feeling aimless, purposeless, or used up, Jesus offers you a life of meaning, with a far-reaching role in His Kingdom. (1 Peter 2:9)
- If your marriage is broken, struggling, or over, Jesus offers to infuse your soul with His love and wisdom and your marriage with His life. (James 1:5)
- For all of us, Jesus offers His life – both in this world and in the world to come. (Luke 18:29-30)
Modern marketing techniques speak a lot about value propositions – a statement of identity, of who you’re trying to help, what kind of help you give, and the transformation which those who take advantage of that help will experience.
Any attempt to put God’s thoughts in human words is risky. But based on what Jesus said of Himself and what other Bible writers said of Him, here’s what I believe He would say in contemporary language:
“I am Jesus, Son of God and Son of Man. I offer LIFE – My life of love – to every human being so that their past can be forgiven, their earthly life can be abundant, free, and full, and their future eternal life can be with Me in God’s kingdom forever.”
I’ll take that kind of life. How about you?
Your Turn: What is the biggest thing Jesus’ life has meant for you? Leave a comment below.
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