Christianity Explained – what, how, what does it cost you, and what do you get?
By Peter S. Williams
Christianity isn’t about what you believe or what you do, but who you know. Being a Christian is about being in an exciting friendship with God by trusting Jesus.
Christians believe that God really loves everyone, and wants everyone to know Him. However, God is totally perfect, and we are a long way from being perfect; we often do bad things that upset God, for example things that hurt other people or that hurt ourselves, and that hurts God because he loves us.
This is a problem that needs dealing with if we are to be in a relationship with God like He wants. Now, if I’ve got a really bad problem (suppose I fall into a river and I can’t swim), then I can’t help myself simply by believing something (‘I can swim’, ‘I can swim’), or by trying really hard to save myself. No, I need someone who hasn’t got my problem to come and rescue me; I need someone who can swim to dive in the water and save me.
Jesus is like a lifeguard who dives into our problem to save us. We can’t make ourselves good enough to know a perfect God just by believing something, or by trying hard to do anything; but Jesus said that he can save us because he doesn’t have our problem. Jesus said that he was God, and that he had come to rescue us from the problem we have because we do bad things.
Now, if I am drowning I need someone to get me to dry land, and to do that someone who doesn’t have my problem has to get wet! If I have done things that hurt someone, but still want to be friends with them, what’s the answer to my problem? The answer isn’t anything I can do at all; I need their forgiveness.
Now, forgiving someone costs us. Instead of throwing our pain back at the person who hurt us we have to kind of soak it up and say, ‘It’s OK, even though you hurt me, I forgive you. Let’s be friends.’ Christians think that Jesus pays the price of forgiving us. That’s what Jesus’ death the cross is about; God diving in to our problem to rescue us from ourselves.
If someone offers you forgiveness and says ‘Let’s be friends’ then you may or may not accept their forgiveness. You might throw it back in their face and say, ‘Yeah, well, I don’t want to be your friend’! On the other hand, you might accept their forgiveness and say: ‘Thank you very much for forgiving me’.
Becoming a Christian means saying to Jesus: ‘Thank you very much for forgiving me for all the bad stuff I do that hurts you God, I trust you to rescue me, let’s be friends’. If you do that, then you get all the bad things you do forgiven, and you get a friendship that you know isn’t based upon how wonderful you are, but on how great God is. Have you ever heard the phrase ‘unconditional love’? Having unconditional love is not being loved because of the condition you are in, but in-spite of the condition you are in! That’s the sort of love God shows us through Jesus.
When someone loves you like that, you naturally want to do nice things for them; but being a Christian isn’t about doing those nice things any more than loving anyone else is about buying them chocolates or whatever!
Receiving forgiveness from someone so you can be friends has its own cost – the cost of admitting you were in the wrong and of saying sorry. It can be hard to admit we are in the wrong and to really say sorry – but when you know you’ve hurt someone and they show you unconditional love by offering to forgive you, it makes it a lot easier to say sorry. Jesus is God saying he loves us and that he forgives us; it’s up to us to say sorry and thank you.