Many people don’t understand what Christianity is all about. They think it is a restrictive lifestyle of things you cannot do, a standard of behavior that is unattainable, an existence devoid of fun. In reality, Christianity is different than many other religions because it is not a “religion” at all…it is a relationship. A relationship with Jesus Christ.
Yes, the Bible contains lots of rules, advice, and commands on how to live (the most familiar being the ten commandments, given by God to Moses at Mt Sinai), but a Christian’s relationship with God is not contingent upon his ability to follow these rules, as it is in many other world religions where, at the end of one’s life, the good deeds have to outweigh the bad on some cosmic scale in order for the participant to reach heaven. If that were the case, life would be pretty stressful, to say the least.
Christianity, however, hinges only on belief. The belief that Jesus Christ was the Son of God, died on the cross to pay for our sins (past, present and future), and that he rose again and sits now at the right hand of God. The only thing that matters, is that personal relationship with, and belief in, Jesus Christ. This brings an enormous amount of peace and freedom for Christians in this life.
Now lest you think I am saying, “Become a Christian and let the party begin!” Not, exactly. Remember when you were in high school and you had that one teacher that you just loved so much? You couldn’t wait until 4th period to get to Mr Smith’s class, because you knew he actually cared about you as a person and made you feel special and valued? You behaved in that class and followed the rules. Why? Because you cared what Mr Smith thought of you…you loved and respected him. It’s the same with being a Christian. I follow God’s commands out of love and respect for him.
As a fallen human being who was born with a sin nature (thanks Adam), I could never live a perfect life and therefore be worthy of being in the presence of a holy God when I die. In fact, the Bible says that even if you think a sinful thought it is as if you had committed the sin. But through the blood of Jesus Christ I am made clean, he paid for my sin on the cross. It is a free gift that is offered to all. You need only to pray, believe, and receive it.
“That if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord’, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”
Romans 10:9 (NIV)
My favorite verse for many years has been Micah 6:8. It summarizes concisely the kind of life that honors God. It is the kind of life that I strive for because of my gratitude and love for God. Here it is:
“He has shown you, oh man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you? To do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.”
Micah 6:8 (NKJV)
If my life reflects these traits, then I know that I am bringing honor and glory to God, which is why he placed me on this earth in the first place. Rules? Or relationship? You decide.