What is Christianity all about?

NOTE: NLT Bible version used unless otherwise noted.

In answer to a question that was asked, “What is this [Christianity] all about?”

Why did I need Jesus? When I was 10, I wanted to serve God. I believed the Bible stories I’d been taught as a child, and I loved the *idea* of following Jesus. I thought that in order to be a Christian and follow Jesus, I had to clean myself up first. At 10 years of age, I really didn’t have much “baggage!” But I still knew that I wasn’t righteous enough. Why? Because I had read verses like Romans 3:23: “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Or perhaps Isaiah 64:6: “We are all infected and impure with sin. When we display our righteous deeds, they are nothing but filthy rags. Like autumn leaves, we wither and fall, and our sins sweep us away like the wind.”

I spent a lot of time feeling dismayed that I would make a mistake and then have to start over the next day. We would sing in meeting, “new each morning are his mercies, and his faithfulness so great” (actual verses for this are in Lamentations 3:22-23). I was SO GLAD for that, because I thought when I made a mistake at least I could try again the next day.

It was a pretty miserable place to be in, I felt very stuck and had little peace. What I was experiencing was similar to Isaiah’s (or Jeremiah’s, or Ezekiel’s, or Moses’!) emotions when confronted with the living God: “It’s all over! I am doomed, for I am a sinful man. I have filthy lips, and I live among a people with filthy lips. Yet I have seen the King, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.” (Isaiah 6:5).

What I didn’t realize was all I needed in order to be condemned was to not believe in Jesus. It had nothing to do with how long my skirt was or if I forced myself to kneel by my bed and pray a wandering prayer in the morning. I was discouraged because I thought the bar was only a couple feet above my head and if I tried just hard enough, I’d grab hold. So every day, I’d get close to the bar and it got higher. Ugh! Where was the hope?

“There is no judgment against anyone who believes in him. But anyone who does not believe in him has already been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son.” John 3:18

One night at convention, we sang a hymn called “Just As I Am” and I realized God wanted me, and it would be Jesus’s righteousness covering me, NOT MY OWN. I had read verses about Christ before convention, so God had already planted the seeds. Some of the passages that I remember reading:

“God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” Ephesians 2:8-10

“‘So let everyone in Israel know for certain that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, to be both Lord and Messiah!’

Peter’s words pierced their hearts, and they said to him and to the other apostles, ‘Brothers, what should we do?’

Peter replied, ‘Each of you must repent of your sins and turn to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. This promise is to you, to your children, and to those far away—all who have been called by the Lord our God.’ Then Peter continued preaching for a long time, strongly urging all his listeners, ‘Save yourselves from this crooked generation!'” Acts 2:36-40

“But people are counted as righteous, not because of their work, but because of their faith in God who forgives sinners.” Romans 4:5

“When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners. Now, most people would not be willing to die for an upright person, though someone might perhaps be willing to die for a person who is especially good. But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from God’s condemnation. For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of his Son. So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God.” Romans 5:6-11

From there, I started to really question meetings. The Bible seemed alive to me (and sharper than a two-edged sword! Hebrews 4:12). I would pray for God to reveal Himself to me, and during my Bible reading, scripture felt like it would jump out at me answering specific doubts, questions, or fears I had. It was very distressing to me when those exciting moments of revelation were contrary to meeting-speak!

One night, I was very distressed. I felt so confused about meetings. Every time I spent time in the word and in prayer and listening to praise songs, I felt peace and comfort and a soul-deep satisfaction in my relationship with God. Then, I’d go to meetings and feel afraid, and so distressed within. I thought, how can this be?! I flipped through my Bible and out popped these three I can remember and one in either 1 Peter or 2 Peter I can’t find at the moment:

“For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.” I Corinthians 14:33.

“Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-8 (KJV)

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.” 2 Timothy 1:7.

But meetings brought me so much confusion! I did not have that rest within whenever I went to meeting or tried to justify meetings with the Word. God is not the author of confusion. Why did I need to do so many mental gymnastics to make meeting work?

It took until I was married and had 2 children to leave meetings. God was gracious to me, patient as I juggled my fear of losing family and friends with the truth that He was bigger than any organized religion anywhere. He has since led us through many church families, towns, life changes, and I can say I now have that peace that passes understanding. Is life easy? Nope. Do I get everything I want all the time? Nope. But I find comfort in having a living, personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ.

Romans 12:1-2 says:

” And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behaviour and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”

I’d like to put an emphasis here on “let God transform you.” When I spend time with God, praying and reading His word, my heart is softened by him. It’s not my church family or tradition that dictates what I do, although like I’ve mentioned I do go to trusted people for advice and guidance. Sometimes I bemoan my own inadequacies and that God even needed to “save” me, but most of the time I stand in awe of God’s love for me. I do good, because people driven by the Holy Spirit live a life of service. I definitely am selfish and prideful at times, and that’s why the gospel message is about Jesus. As soon as I make it about ME and how great a Christian I am, I take the message away from Jesus. I’d also like to point out that it reassures me greatly that Jesus is with me always and is unchanging! Not a single church leader can promise any of us that.

It is important to me that people realize being a Christian and following Jesus is joyful, fulfilling, and brings peace. It’s not just about not going to hell; we get to experience a life NOW that is also more abundant because of the hope within us. Notice in those verses, Romans 12:2 it says, “Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”

His will is GOOD, PLEASING, PERFECT. He wants to show in his people (any who believe on him, NOT a specific religious organization) the glory of himself: The Great I AM. He wants us to reflect his love and light to the world to declare the majesty of who he is and what he has done. Before anyone takes me the wrong way, I am not suggesting his will is that Christians will have no hardships and experience luxurious lives. In fact, Jesus told his disciples they would have trouble (John 16:33). What I am talking about is when we go through difficulties and we can sing, and laugh, and give our worry to him to carry. When we mourn, it is not without hope, knowing our sorrow will not last forever (1 Thessalonians 4:13).

My husband has had serious health issues over the past couple years and this past fall had to have surgery. I had a family member look at me and say, “Can’t you act even a little worried? This is SERIOUS.” I think this person wanted to shake me! Even now, my husband’s recovery is slow and we are often discouraged. Not only does the word command me not to worry (Matthew 6:25-34), but during that trial I honestly DID NOT worry. Even when this relative said this to me, I was surprised. Why would I worry? I knew, because of past experiences and the promises in God’s word, that even if my husband died and my whole life turned upside down, God would still be on his throne. He would still see me. He would still have a plan and his will for me would be good. Lest I come across as non-human, I did experience stress. I still had to deal with my own human exhaustion and the busyness of hospital trips, but I was not controlled or overcome by worry or fear.

“Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory. We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.” Romans 5:1-5

” And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.

What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: ‘For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.’

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:28-39

So my answer to “What is Christianity all about?” is: Jesus. We like to make it all about us and our wretched state or how we need to do x, y, and z to be Christian. But really, it’s about God’s plan for redemption. Jesus is THE Messiah, the One sent to conquer death. He is the Great I AM (Ex 3:14, John 8:58, John 11:25-26, John 14:6). Since believing in Jesus, I do a lot less thinking about myself and a lot more praising God, appreciating his creation, delighting in his word, and loving others out of the love that has been poured on me through the death and resurrection of Christ.

Addison (Lewis) Aliprandi
April 29, 2023