Christianity is a relational religion
The word religion is used in many contexts. But there is a difference between religion to look religious and religion to cultivate a relationship with God and with neighbour.
The dynamics of many religions is man reaching out to find God. With Christianity, it is God reaching out to man. Jesus Christ, God-man, invites everyone to believe in Him and accept His free gift of salvation, offered out of love. With faith in Jesus, as a foundation, spirituality and religion can be seen as by-products. It is those things or ways of life which allow an individual to live out their faith.
In Christianity, God did for us what we cannot do for ourselves. Our sin separates us from His presence, and, by divine justice, sin must be punished. But, because God loves us, He took our punishment upon Himself. God brought Himself physically down to the world in the form of Jesus Christ, to sacrificially die for our sins and to offer us eternal life. It is by believing in this miraculous work, that we are saved (John 3:16). Christian faith is, in other words, God’s blessing on the undeserving. This is the foundation of Christianity.
As it turns out to be, Christianity is not a system, a doctrine, a set of rules and rituals that one must follow to gain acceptance or inclusion. These are important, only as a means to proper relationships. If not well understood, they can stifle our relationship with God and with others.
The word “Christian” literally means, “a follower of Christ.” Followers of Jesus Christ were first called “Christians” in Antioch because their behavior, activity, and speech were like Christ (Acts 11:26).
They had committed their lives to “walk the talk”, as Jesus did.
Unfortunately, over time, the word “Christian” has lost a great deal of its significance and is often used of someone who is religious.
Many people who do not believe and trust in Jesus Christ consider themselves Christians simply because they have been baptized, they go to church, or they live in a “Christian” nation. Doing all these and a lot more, does not make one a Christian, any more than sleeping in an automobile garage makes one an automobile.
We must think of Christianity more as a love relationship, like marriage. St. Paul refers to the Church as bride of Christ. Obedience to the commandments and all church laws must stem from a love for God, well knowing that we are only able to love Him because He loved us first (1 John 4:19). We must not pervert God’s Law into an outward observance that alienates us and others from Him.
The great symbol of the Christian faith is the cross. A cross has two beams without which it is incomplete. One is vertical, the other is horizontal. These two beams symbolise two relationships.
The vertical beam symbolises our relationship toward God, and the horizontal beam symbolises our relationship to our fellow human beings. If our relationships with our fellow human beings are wrong, our relationship with God cannot possibly be right.
Christian faith is not earned; it is a gift of God. When we join His family, the Holy Spirit comes to live inside our hearts, and empowers us to live like God’s children. He asks that our old self be crucified with Christ so that His power can live through us. The evidence of a true Christian is displayed in both faith and action (James 1:26–27).
Christians must endeavor to translate the Gospel for the transformation of society into the kingdom of God, in time and space. To do so, they must constantly read the signs of the time, and listen and learn from the world around them.