Since this site is primarily about the failure of Churches to represent true Christianity, a few words on what Christianity really is are in order. People are so conditioned to thinking of Christianity as something centred on churchgoing, especially the Sunday Service of Hymns and Sermon, that they find it hard to imagine any alternative.
The real fundamentals of Christianity, however, are not hard to understand. A person’s Christian Life begins with conversion, which is the acceptance of the validity of Christ’s Sacrifice and their personal need for it. (See Gospel if you are not clear on this.) The dynamics of this conversion in reality only involve Jesus and the New Christian. It may well be that some Church or Missionary, or tract or website, played a part in the conversion, but the power for Salvation comes only from Jesus, and it is only to Jesus that the new convert has allegiance. A new two-way loving relationship has been formed, very much akin to marriage, and everything now depends on the outworking of that relationship. This is what Paul is talking about in Philippians 2 when he instructs Christians to “work out your own salvation.”
Just as every Marriage relationship differs, every relationship with Jesus differs. The often wide differences are caused by the very different situations people are in when they turn to Christ, and differences in speed at which the relationship matures. No such thing as a typical, black and white, boilerplate Christian! Take two extreme examples:
- Imagine a drug addict and thief from an abusive home who eventually meets Jesus at age thirty.
- For comparison, think of an Amish person who decides at eighteen to accept Amish teaching, lifestyle and Baptism. (See The Special Place of the Amish in History for more on the Amish.)
Ten years on, the Amish person will almost certainly be leading a life that has every appearance of genuine conversion. Yet it’s possible that he is merely following his particular culture; it’s more difficult to see the effect of conversion on someone who already functions well, and lives in a society where things like sharing, faithfulness and modesty are normal. However, the ex-addict ten years on may still be dealing with issues from his previous life, even though he has made huge steps forward in his relationship with Jesus and improving his lifestyle. The permutations and variations are infinite. It makes it very hard to know who is really in a relationship with Jesus. There is no simple marker like weekly church attendance or Infant Baptism. It’s about working out the relationship because you love Him, because He first loved you.
For all Christians, and especially new ones, the key advice is to get soaked in the Bible from personal reading; sadly there are very few people who will give that vital advice. The teaching from churches, whether Protestant, Mormon, Catholic, Baptist, Anglican, or whatever is much more “Listen to us!”
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