January 6th, 2020
This last week at work, I overheard someone boastfully state that Christianity was too new of a ‘religion’. As a result, they were more interested in older religions. This person further went on to compare dates, marking the beginning point of Christianity at merely two thousand years ago.
I couldn’t resist injecting into the conversation which I was not a part of initially.
I said, Christianity was faith in Jesus Christ, being the Son of God; God’s means of salvation for all of creation. Further, because of this fact, Christianity began with the fall of man shortly after the creation of time. Therefore, no other ‘religion’ could be defined as being older than Christianity. The references in scripture of Jesus being the Savior first appears in Genesis, with God’s proclamation to the serpent (the devil) regarding Eve’s offspring (Jesus).
I will put hostility between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring. He will strike your head, and you will strike his heel.
Genesis 3:15 (CSB)
Many translations state this even stronger, stating that Christ Jesus will ‘crush’ the head of the serpent.
After injecting myself into this conversation, the person who was attempting to demean faith in Jesus as being a relatively young religion, became silent.
I wasn’t anticipating, my comment shutting down the conversation. The person who espoused this position, is known for being very outspoken. I was considering that I would be required to follow up, with an explanation of my comment.
To that end I was pondering how our faith in Jesus is radically different from every other religion that exists.
One of the truths that I’ve always embraced was Christianity is the only religion where God is seeking out humanity to save it, rather than humanity having to pursue and gain favor with their version of God.
This concept of the inception of Christianity near the dawn of time was a new one I could hang my hat on.
But the key difference I see when comparing faith in Jesus with the religions of the world, the fact that it isn’t a religion at all; Christianity is a relationship!
This becomes abundantly clear as the scripture refers to God as our Father and us being given the right to become God’s children. This is a relationship with our creator.
He was in the world, and the world was created through him, and yet the world did not recognize him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, he gave them the right to be children of God, to those who believe in his name, who were born, not of natural descent, or of the will of the flesh, or of the will of man, but of God.
John 1:10-13 (CSB)
Jesus, the founder of our faith is, was, and will be the central focus of the scripture.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. All things were created through him, and apart from him not one thing was created that has been created.
John 1:1-3 (CSB)
From the very beginning, faith in Jesus has been what God the Father was promoting through His Word. His Word is His Son. And His Spirit is the cord that runs through both of them and every one of us.
This is a relationship. A relationship unlike any other relationship we have had or will ever have again. The intent of the Father was through His Son to establish a relationship with the creation that was a binding of our spirit with His.
In him you also were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and when you believed. The Holy Spirit is the down payment of our inheritance, until the redemption of the possession, to the praise of his glory.
Ephesians 1:13-14 (CSB)
Being a Christian isn’t practicing a religion of any sort. It is actively participating in a relationship between the creator and the creation. An adoption that transforms us from being an enemy of God to becoming His children.
Unlike a human adoption, the intent of God’s spiritual adoption is to remake us in His image. Because Jesus is the exact image of the living God, our reference to God’s image is Jesus.
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For everything was created by him, in heaven and on earth, the visible and the invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities — all things have been created through him and for him.
Colossians 1:15-16 (CSB)
In this relationship we are heirs of God just as in a human adoption the child becomes a legal heir of the adoptive parents. But more importantly, in this spiritual adoptoion we take on the attributes of our adoptive parent.
We all, with unveiled faces, are looking as in a mirror at the glory of the Lord and are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory; this is from the Lord who is the Spirit.
2 Corinthians 3:18 (CSB)
Discipleship isn’t just a vague reference in the scripture to a practice of allowing God to transform us into the image of Christ.
Discipleship is the result of our adoption into God’s family. As we yield ourselves to the will of the Holy Spirit, we daily are more and more transformed into the image of Jesus who is the visible image of God the Father.
As we are transformed, our world view is made more and more like His. As we change from our original form into the likeness of Jesus our behavior slowly evolves into a greater and greater likeness of Jesus, keeping with the nature of God.
His divine power has given us everything required for life and godliness through the knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. By these he has given us very great and precious promises, so that through them you may share in the divine nature, escaping the corruption that is in the world because of evil desire.
2 Peter 1:3-4 (CSB)
When you consider this relationship, we as Christians share with our Savior, in the light of the Great Commission; Jesus’ call for us to be His disciples and be disciple makers becomes a natural function of our spiritual family. It is natural, that as we become more like Jesus, we do what Jesus does. While he was with us, he spread the Good News, made disciples, sought out the lost, calling them to repentance.
Recently on social media, you’ll see reference to an activity or behavior and the reference is tagged with the line “it’s a (fill in family last name) thing!”
Everything that Jesus did and taught us becomes part of our nature and adds to our transformation by, and into, His image. Therefore…
Discipleship; it’s a Christian thing! Love; it’s a Christian thing! Compassion; it’s a Christian thing! And we could go on and on. The point being, it is a ‘Christian thing’ to become more and more like Jesus.
Because, this isn’t a religion, ‘It’s A Relationship!’
In His Grace!