Christianity is true
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. Here are three: ‘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 demonstrated that he had power to perform miracles over nature and devils; and 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 into heaven, present us with only three possible verdicts about him – 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 bador a deliberate con-man, it is surprising that he did so many deeds of love, many of them to disadvantaged people. He publicly rebuked powerful people for their wicked practices. He did not try to avoid arrest and went to his last painful days with great dignity.
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 in advance the details of his own 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. But Jesus 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 Christian church has been plagued by false Christians within its ranks, who have done Satan’s work rather than Christ’s. Many church leaders have been false Christians, proud, self-seeking, cruel, power-mad and hypocritical.
Terrible crimes have been done in the name of the church. For instance, during the Crusades Jews were slaughtered as ‘murderers of Christ’, and during the Inquisition those judged guilty of heresy were sometimes burnt alive.
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. But Jesus himself predicted that many would do evil things in his name, falsely claiming his authority to do them (John 16:2-3). The devil has always been trying to infiltrate the church, from the days of Judas Iscariot onwards.
Yet at the same time, what a relief to list the lasting blessings the church has given to the world. It can lay claim to be an early pioneer in Europe and in other countries of hospitals, schools, orphanages and hospices. The church for most of its existence has advocated the sanctity of human life, and supported human rights, marriage and the family.
Para-church organisations have 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 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, sex, birthplace or birthday, but each of us is answerable to God for how we live the life he entrusted to us!
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 quickly sort out the nominal from the true Christian.
Do you want to be a truly committed Christian? Turn to Jesus Christ!