Christianity isn’t as mysterious as some of the religions you may have explored. It encourages daily practice of spiritual disciplines, but your membership isn’t measured by your mastery. Christianity recognizes that God is ultimately beyond our ability to know fully, yet is present and active to guide the life of everyone who believes in God. It believes that God intends a rich and full life for every person, but doesn’t measure riches in terms of money and property.
So what does it take to start being a Christian?
- Christians believe that God is. We have a very specific God in mind: the God who was loved by Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebekah, Jacob, Rachel, and Leah in the Old Testament; and by such famous New Testament figures as Mary, Mary Magdalene, Peter, Zaccheus, and Paul. In New Testament times, God was made known in the person Jesus Christ, and as a spiritual presence we still call the Holy Spirit, who has been described throughout history. There are many gods and many spirits, but Christians worship only one of them.
- Christians believe that people are not perfect. For some of us, this is a relief. For others, it is painful to think about.
- Christians believe that God knows that people are not perfect. If you spend your days trying to hide behind appearances, this can seem scary. God sees behind your mask. But then it can be freeing. There’s one Person who sees everything and loves you anyway. Because …
- Christians believe that God wants to embrace people, even people who are not perfect.
Those are the easy parts. Here are the parts that make you want to go running to some belief system where “it’s all good” or “it is what it is”:
- Christians believe that when you do the crime, someone does the time. The way God made the universe, actions have consequences. It doesn’t matter whether your crime is murder or meanness: someone is going to pay.
- Christians believe that God did the time for them personally. When the man Jesus Christ was executed by hanging on a cross outside of Jerusalem in 33 AD, he—as God in the form of a person—accepted that painful death as a way to cover for the failings of each and every one of us. Jesus is the only perfect person ever to have lived. So when he died the death of a criminal, he died on our behalf, not because of anything he did.
- Christians believe that after Jesus-the-man died, he came to life again. Jesus was sealed into a stone tomb under guard because there were a lot of politics attached to his execution. But three days later, the tomb was found empty by women mourners. His shroud was on the ground inside. And in the following days, more than 500 people reported seeing him on earth before he is described rising into the heavens.
- Christians believe in a new life after death for all who believe that Jesus’ death and rebirth was for them. Jesus is believed to be an example of what will happen to all Christians: we will be changed into new bodies and will go to a different place where God lives.
If you believe all those things, you’re already a Christian. If not, consider them. These things only describe the threshold of Christian living. And like every religion, you can stay at the threshold … or you can explore the new world you’ve entered … or even settle in.
You’ll find more information about Christian living as you explore this site.
Copyright © Carlene Hill Byron, 2010