One definition of Christianity runs, “a monotheistic system of beliefs and practices based on the Old Testament and the teachings of Jesus as embodied in the New Testament and emphasizing the role of Jesus as savior”. Hardly an explanation to get you out of bed, much less transform billions of lives and turn the world upside down.
And yet the Christian faith claims to open the way to a genuinely new start, a life of deep and lasting meaning and a relationship with God so rich and full of love as to make us, day by day, everything we, and the world around us, were meant to be.
Christianity, before that name stuck, was called The Good News.
But we need to backtrack a little to see the whole picture.
The right place to begin is with God. The good news is that he is good, holy in fact, and is full of love, power and light – in him, the Bible says, is no darkness at all. He is the life giver and has a plan for us all, one to give us hope and to do us no harm. He loves us. All he asks of us is we love him back and love other people as we love ourselves.
And that, if we’re honest, is a real problem. The bad news is that we have rejected God, whether in what we think or say or do. Where God looked for love in us, he found selfishness and self-centredness. The Bible calls it sin – the result is that we have alienated ourselves from the God who loves goodness and love and truth. We have made ourselves criminals in his sight by the way we’ve lived our lives. We are dead in our sins, the Bible tells us, and facing judgement, fully warranted and fully deserved.
The Good News that Jesus brought is that God’s love for us compelled him to solve our terrible problem. The Good News is God’s divine rescue plan, that our separation from God can be ended, we can be at peace with him, the friendship can be renewed.
And at its heart is Jesus.
He came as light to a darkened world.
God the Son, as a man, came to show us what God is like and what mankind might be.
He lived the life we should have lived, and died the death we deserved to die, a criminal’s death, dying in our place, bearing the judgement we deserve. The result is that our punishment passes from us and we are pardoned.
His resurrection proved his victory over sin, that our sins were fully paid for, and that he himself deserved life.
Turning back to God, away from our self-centredness and rebellion to rely on all Jesus has done and follow him is what God actually wants of us now. That, when you think it through, is very good news.
Christianity is the road home. The way back to life, eternal life, in all its wonderful fulness.