What is Christianity?
Talk about a loaded question! What is Christianity in 500 words or less?!
Christianity is all that flows from what Jesus called the “Good News” – the declaration that the God who created the world is uniting all things in the world under the gracious reign of Jesus and making it all wonderfully new. He does this on the basis of who Jesus is and what Jesus did in history.
Christianity is a view of world history. It sees the world as a paradise created by God, a paradise lost by humankind and a paradise re-given by God through Jesus. It sees God’s rescuing of the world, despite deep resistance, as the fueling energy that drives all history to its climax: a new heaven, a new earth and a new humanity that is infinitely more good and beautiful than before.
Christianity is a view of humanity. It sees human beings as having the highest of all dignities, privileges and responsibilities – bearing God’s own image in the world. As His image-bearers, we were created to lovingly steward and care for His world. In our universal failure and rejection of this vocation, Jesus came to restore us to this dignity and loving service.
Christianity is a community of people, the global church. For all our sinful brokenness historically, the church gives the rest of the world an imperfect foretaste of what Jesus has been doing to put the world to rights. Christianity is therefore a “new way of being human together” that is oriented to the new reality of salvation that Jesus has ushered in.
Which means, climactically, Christianity is all about Jesus – who He is, why He came, and what He did and does. He came to deal with the core of what’s wrong with the world: our rejection of God’s gracious reign (sin) and the resulting alienation between God and the whole created order. No human being, or humanity collectively, can deliver the world from this plight. So Jesus, fully God and fully human at the same time, came to satisfy God’s justice against human sin by living the life we should have lived and dying the death we should have died.
Jesus then rose bodily from the dead to inaugurate a new kind of life that is free of the guilt and power of sin. His resurrection is the very step in the resurrection of the whole created cosmos – something He will complete when He returns to the earth at the end of history as we know it. Forgiveness from the guilt of sin, and liberation from its enslaving power are at the heart of what Jesus has secured for us, all by His free grace.
It is the Bible, in its entirety, which God “breathed out” to tell us this good news. It tells us the story of the world. It tells us the story of Jesus and His people. It teaches us a way of life centered on Jesus’ saving work in the world.