What Is The Point Of Christianity? | Not Simply Religion | Part 3
In our second blog, we discussed “What is the point of Christianity?” in light of the fact that faith in Jesus is based on reality. This episode was the first installment of a series of the 5 R’s answering the question of “What is the point of Christianity?” The complete list of 5 R’s is Reality, Not Simply Religion, Broken Relationships, Restored Relationships, and the Resurrection. In this episode, we will dive into the second are, “What is the point of Christianity If it is Not simply Religion?”
To give a basis of what religion is, we have found that religion is often defined as a personal set or institutionalized system of religious attitudes, beliefs, and practices according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary. By that definition, Christianity certainly is a religion. I would like to point out that Christianity is much more than a religion.
What’s The Point Of Christianity If All Religions Say They Worship The Same God?
The point of Christianity is to worship the one true God. Christianity’s point is not to worship a little “g” god or the idea of a general “supreme being” but to have a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ. All religions worship someone or something. Each religion varies, from the many gods and deities in Hinduism to the worship of one God in Christianity. Other religions that share similar monotheistic ideologies would be religions such as Islam and Judaism. Some religions would claim that we are all worshiping the same God. However, each religion believes in its own way of worshiping God and that that way is the only correct way.
Let’s take a closer look at the idea that we all worship the same God. How do other religions understand God?
Hinduism understands God as being one absolute, formless and universal, primarily as a spirit known as Brahman. Brahman is believed to be everything and in everything, otherwise known as the theology of pantheism. Those with this kind of theology would also understand God to be personified in millions of gods and goddesses, “allowing an infinite number of ways to worship” and allowing more gods and goddesses to be added into worship at any time.
Islam understands Allah (the Arabic word for God) to be the only one being who created the universe and has power over everything in it. The Islamic teaching that Allah was not born or had children is fundamental to them. They believe that his instructions were completely and fully delivered to Muhammad, their prophet.
Judaism and Christianity share very similar concepts of who God is. The reason they share many similar beliefs is due to sharing scriptures of the Torah (part of the Bible’s Old Testament). They traditionally hold that Yahweh (Hebrew spelling of God) is the only one who is perfect, holy, All-knowing, all-powerful, and all-present. However, those who practice the Jewish faith believe that the promised Messiah has not come yet.
Christianity also understands God to be the almighty and all-powerful creator and sustainer of the universe. However, the point of Christianity is to have a relationship with this creator. The way we are able to have a relationship with God is by having a personal relationship with the promised Messiah of the Torah. We, as Christians, believe that the Messiah is Jesus Christ.
When Jesus Christ came to the earth, he came not only as God’s messenger but as God in human form. This may sound confusing; however, we feel the video below does a great job of explaining what the trinity is and how the trinity is vital in the idea of Christian theology.
What’s The Point Of Christianity If Religion Makes Me Do Things I Don’t Want To Do?
The point of Christianity is not to make us do things we do not want to do but help us stop doing the things we don’t want to do or ought not to do. Paul, who was once one of the greatest persecutors of Christians, had this to say after his conversion to Christianity in Romans 7:15-20:
“ For I do not understand what I am doing; for I am not practicing what I want to do, but I do the very thing I hate. However, if I do the very thing I do not want to do, I agree with the Law that the Law is good. But now, no longer am I the one doing it, but sin that dwells in me. For I know that good does not dwell in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want. But if I do the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin that dwells in me.”
In reading this passage, it can be a highly challenging concept to grasp. How does one not do what they want to do and yet, still do what they hate all at the same time?
The way we are able to explain this idea of an internal struggle is that sin is present in our lives. Sin is defined as when we do something against what God has asked us to do. We all have sin in our lives. Sin doesn’t just have to be something as extreme as genocide or corruption. It can be something far smaller than that.
Maybe it’s spending too much time watching TV.
Perhaps it is doing drugs and hiding behind the shame of being found out instead of seeking help.
Perhaps there was infidelity in your marriage, and your spouse doesn’t know about it.
Maybe you spend time away from your family watching pornography instead of cultivating a relationship with them.
Or perhaps it is fudging the numbers on a project at work to get ahead of someone you envy.
Maybe it is something that may seem as small as yelling a four-letter word when someone cuts you off in traffic or lying to your children that the “swings” are broken when you are ready to leave the park.
The list goes on and on.
All of these things point to what Paul acknowledges; the law helps us to identify what areas of our lives are filled with sin. However, this doesn’t mean Christianity makes you do the things you don’t want to do. In reality, it is pointing to the fact there are patterns in all of our lives that are wrong and need to be corrected, no matter how big or insignificant they may seem.
The point of Christianity is that we don’t have to do the things we no longer want to do. We can have a relationship with the Almighty God and give Him the struggles and burdens we carry. In this way, we have we no longer need to carry the weight of the sins but can do what Paul says.
God promises us when the following when Paul writes this in Ephesians 4:22-24: ”that, in reference to your former way of life, you are to rid yourselves of the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you are to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.”
What Paul is saying to us is that those who are believers in Christ will have a mind that becomes renewed. To understand the idea of having a renewed mind, we need to look back to the original greek text where the greek word of ἀνανεοῦσθαι is used.
When ἀνανεοῦσθαι is used in this context, this word does not mean that this process of a renewed mind happens all at once. In fact, this word is being used as a verb in the middle voice. The use of a middle voice means that we are to understand this word as something that is actively happening to us. That God is constantly in the process of renewing our minds to be like Christ. One of the major points of Christianity is that in God’s active pursuit of those who have a relationship with him, we see that He is constantly ἀνανεοῦσθαι their minds. Renewing them (our minds) so that we are able to put off our sinful nature, doing the things we don’t want to do, and begin to see the faults in our lives for the sins that they are and be drawn closer to God
What’s The Point Of Christianity If It Isn’t A Religion?
The point of Christianity is that it is a relationship with the almighty God and not simply religious duties. Many people have heard that Christianity is simply a religious choice and not a relationship. We want to help you understand why we know that Christianity is based on a relationship and not on following a bunch of rules to the letter of the law.
Christianity Is Not Religion
When defining religion, we turn again to Merriam-Webster’s dictionary and see that it is defined as a personal set or institutionalized system of religious attitudes, beliefs, and practices. Religion, in a nutshell, may also be described as a way to appease a god by means of rituals and beliefs. When conforming to religious ideologies allows for groups of “who does worship better”, rules to follow, pilgrimages to make, and a never-ending goal of hoping that the scale of your good deeds outweighs your bad deeds. A religious system like this puts all the pressure on you to perform and allows no room for error.
Christianity is Relationship
When defining the relationship, we turn again to Merriam-Webster’s dictionary and see that relationship is defined as a state of affairs that exists between those having relations or dealings. In this case, we see that the point of Christianity is to have what we see defined as a relationship with God.
These kinds of affairs and interactions consist of talking with each other. Doing activities with one another, supporting one another, helping one another, and even saying things that may be hard to hear to one. All of these things would be items that we would expect to see in an active and healthy relationship and what Christianity is all about. God shows us that he has all of these attributes available to us in the way that he interacts with us in human form through Jesus.
Christianity is Relationship | Talking
Many times throughout the Bible, we see that a point of Christianity is simply talking with each other. Jesus has a relationship with us by talking to us through his word. If you remember, in our second episode of “What is the point of Christianity?” we see that Jesus speaks to the Samaritan woman. In this exchange, we see that Jesus cares about this woman and takes time to talk to the marginalized of the day, a woman of a promiscuous nature.
In reality, God continues to show us that the point of Christianity is to continue to talk to and spend time with us by giving us His the Bible. The Bible is God’s primary form of communication with us. Through his words in the Bible, he is talking to us as people so that we can get to know what He thinks, how He speaks, and who he is.
Christianity is Relationship | Doing Activities
Think of your favorite memory. Your wedding day? The birth of a child? Or maybe even something less significant than that. The point is, that you were doing or experiencing something. The point of Christianity as a relationship is that God wants to do things with us. We see this with how Jesus feeds the five thousand. This miraculous act is found in all 4 Gospels Matthew 14:13-21, Mark 6:31-44, Luke 9:12-17, and John 6:1-14 and it shows that God cares for us so much that He provides a way to enjoy a relationship with Him and provides for our needs.
Christianity is Relationship | Supporting One Another
When you need support, who do you run to? A friend? Your mom? Or perhaps you run to God for support when you need help. The point of Christianity being a relationship is that God supports us, and the community of other Christians is designed to assist in supporting each other. A great way that we see the spirit of God move in the hearts of Christians to help one another is in Acts 4:32-37.
In this section of scripture, we see that the point of Christianity as a relationship is to support one another when we have need. Jesus paid the ultimate price in supporting us by going to the cross for our sins. By bearing our sins, he brought forth new life in the Holy Spirit. This, in turn, changed the hearts of people to do just as they are in Acts 4:32-37.
Christianity is Relationship | Saying things That may be hard to hear
Part of the point of Christianity is to be in a relationship with others who are willing to say the hard things we need to hear. Some of those things may be telling us how we have sinned against them, how we can improve our relationship with God, and things that no one else may have the courage to say. When fellow believers say these things, they are to be done in a way that points us back to a deeper and more dependent relationship with God. At no point should telling another person hard things to hear be used as an opportunity to tear another person down but to build them up in their faith.
We see that Jesus is willing to tell people things that are hard to hear when he tells Peter that he knows he will deny knowing him. This instance is recorded in Matthew 32:31-34 and is not done to make Peter feel as though he is not someone who loves Jesus. However, can Jesus’ words can be used here to show that the point of Christianity is to speak the truth in love, even when it may be hard to hear.
What’s the point of Christianity if the goal is to connect with God?
The point of Christianity is to have a personal connection with God. Many religions and people will say that they do connect with God in different ways. However, Jesus makes it abundantly clear that the point of Christianity (or following Christ) is to have a personal relationship with God. We can understand this point when Jesus speaks in John 10:30 “I and the Father are one.”
Here Jesus tells us that he is the same as God yet is his own person. This takes us back to earlier in our episode, where we discussed the trinity in further detail. This theological concept of Jesus, God the Father, and the Holy Spirit helps us understand how each of these parts of the tri-union is equal in power and different in name, but one is Unity, divinity, and purpose.
Ultimately the point of Christianity is to have a personal relationship with Jesus, who is the only way to God because he is, in fact, God in flesh.
What’s The Point Of Christianity If I Can Connect With God On My Own?
The point of Christianity, even if you can connect with God on your own, is to be in community with others and build more relationships with those who are following in Christ’s footsteps. One of the significant points we talked about with Christianity is that the point of it is to build relationships with others, and buildings community does just that. Hebrews 10:25 instructs that we should continue to meet even when others say that they have fallen out of the practice of doing so.
What’s The Point Of Christianity If I Am Not Going To Be A Part Of The Culture?
The point of Christianity is that you will no longer be a part of a typical culture. In becoming a follower of Jesus, you will begin to build a new community with fellow believers that will become the new culture in which you find yourself. To understand this Romans 15:5-6 gives us some clarity “ Now may the God who gives perseverance and encouragement grant you to be of the same mind with one another, according to Christ Jesus, so that with one purpose and one]voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
This aforementioned passage shows us that as we commune with other believers, we should also be to growing in love and patience for one another. In growing with one another like this, we will become one in like-mindedness. Like-mindedness then leads us to unity, and as a group of people moves more and more towards unity, it will cause a new culture. The cultural shift that takes place is because the new way of thinking becomes how one lives their life, it spreads from one person to the next and brings forth new ways of living, which is the point of following after Christ.