True Christianity is Christ. It stands or falls by the historical person of Jesus Christ. Alone among the great religions, Christianity claims that its founder was divine — God in human form.
Jesus made astounding claims for Himself. Three of them are: ‘I am the light of
the world’; ‘I am the resurrection and the life’; ‘I am the way and the truth and
the life. No one comes to the Father except through me’.
Jesus further claimed that He and His Father were one, that He had power to forgive sins and that He could predict the future. He also proved that He had power to perform miracles over nature and over devils, and also miracles of healing, even raising people from the dead.
These claims and deeds, as well as the unique circumstances of His conception, death, resurrection, and ascension alive into heaven, present us with only three possible verdicts about Jesus. He was mad, bad or indeed the Son of God.
If Jesus was mad or a deluded lunatic, it is surprising that:
• So many ordinary folk gladly heard and followed Him.
• His parables and teaching are so logical, ethical and memorable.
• He took His arrest, torture and crucifixion so quietly and prayerfully.
If Jesus was bad or a deliberate con man, it is surprising that:
• He did so many deeds of love and deliverance, many of them to disadvantaged people.
• He publicly attacked powerful people for their wicked practices.
• He did not try to avoid arrest and went to His last painful days with great dignity.
• So many Christians have suffered or died for Him ever since He left this planet.
If Jesus was and is God the Son, it is not surprising that:
• His birth, death, resurrection and ascension were unique.
• From an early age He was conscious of His unique relationship with God His Father.
• He prophesied details of His death and resurrection, and the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.
• God the Father publicly acknowledged Jesus to be His Son.
• Satan, the rebellious angel-prince of this world, did all he could to kill Jesus and thwart His plans.
• He overcame death, sin and Satan and rose from the dead.
But though Christianity centres on Christ, the man who is God and the God who is man, understandably people often assess the worth of Christianity by its followers and their conduct. Sadly from its earliest days the visible Christian Church has been plagued by false Christians within its ranks, who have done Satan’s work rather than Christ’s work. Many church leaders have been false Christians and very proud, self-seeking, cruel, power-mad or hypocritical. Down the centuries Christ’s holy commands and wise teaching have all too often been ignored, overruled or flouted. And all too often the Church has kept shamefully silent in the face of flagrant oppression or injustice.
What a relief to list some of the lasting blessings the Church has given to the world. It can lay claim to be an early pioneer in Europe and beyond of hospitals, schools, orphanages and hospices. The Church has generally advocated the sanctity of human life, and has supported human rights, marriage and the family. Para-church organisations have also played a valuable part in society. Missionary and Bible societies, and those that focus on the particular needs of sections of the population or on the needs of the Third World, have done untold good. And God alone knows the amount of help countless individual Christians have given to their families and communities since the Church began.
True Christianity is far more than a visible institution. The three Rs in the school of Christ are relationships, relationships and relationships. Our relationship with God our Maker is all-important. Christ’s greatest command is ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength’. His second greatest command is ‘Love your neighbour as yourself (Mark 12.31). The truth is people matter more than things or possessions. We did not choose to be born, we did not choose our parents, our sex, our birthplace or our birthday, but each of us is answerable to God for how we live the lives He gave us or entrusted us with!
True Christianity is best seen of course in those who are true Christians. How does one distinguish the true Christian? Jesus said that you will recognise him or her ‘by their fruit’, by their actions and reactions, by their words and lifestyles. The Good Samaritan showed true love in action, love that brought him into danger and cost him time and money.
Danger, hardships and persecution usually soon sort out the nominal Christian from the true Christian. Do you want to be a truly committed Christian?Dudley Reeves
Philosophers down through the ages have pondered the meaning of life. What are we doing here? Where did we come from and where are we going to? But surely the greatest mystery of all is the person of God. If he is a God of love then why does he allow so much suffering in the world. And can we come to know him in a personal and meaningful way?
What is true Christianity? Can a logical, coherent and rational case be made out for the existence of Jesus Christ? Was he really the Son of God who came down from heaven to atone for the sufferings of mankind? And if he was, what relevance does that have to the everyday needs of 21st Century men and women?