The diagram above is not what Christianity is actually about, yet so many treat it that way.
I’ve spent years trying to unlearn much of what I learned about Christianity in my earlier years, because much of what I learned was about principles and formulas. Let me use a quote to drive home my point:
The French Author, Jacques Ellul, once said this:
“There are no such things as ‘Christian principles.’ There is the Person of Christ, who is the principle of everything. If we wish to be faithful to Him, we cannot dream of reducing Christianity to a certain number of principles, the consequences of which can be logically deduced. This tendency to transform the work of the Living God into a philosophical doctrine is the constant temptation of theology, and their greatest disloyalty when they transform the action of the Spirit which brings forth fruit in themselves into an ethic, a new law, into ‘principles’ which only have to be ‘applied.'”
What’s he getting to? Well, let’s maybe use some modern experiences to get to the point. When was the last time you walked into a Christian bookstore? What did you notice the bestsellers were? I’ll give you a hint on some of the kind of titles you might have seen:
How to Pray for Results
Sowing and Reaping: Understanding Prosperity
Ten Spiritual Disciplines for Success and Happiness
While titles may not be so bluntly obvious, much of the content is around the kind of ideas I’m talking about above. Heck, my book ALIVE: How to Enjoy Living is titled in a similar way, but I hope that its content is a far cry from the kind of content I’m making fun of above — where Christianity is relegated to principles, ‘keys’, and formulas. Where all of these are also directed at ‘our’ success. As Ellul is getting at, this kind of Christianity has been separated from its core — the person and Being of Jesus Christ.
God is a Living god, not a bunch of principles or keys we just need to do to see results. Even if we believe this, we often don’t treat Him that way, expecting that if we pray correctly or tithe correctly or do whatever correctly then, and only then, we will see results. But even the desire to see results can really also show that our heart is not interested in Jesus himself, but instead in results.
I mean, what do I enjoy about my wife? I enjoy her – her presence. If my relationship with her was about results then it wouldn’t be much of a relationship.
Christianity is about relationship. In fact, it’s even deeper than relationship, it’s Jesus Christ himself. (That’s why I think it’s also about enjoying God.) Jesus is a living Being, a real person, who lives in and through me. In the end, Christianity is Christ. That’s probably the best way to put it.