I saw her for the first time during my freshman year of college.
We were standing in the lunch line at the same time, and even though I was having a conversation with my friends, I couldn’t take my eyes off her. It probably made her uncomfortable the way I was staring her up and down, but I was smitten.
I was absolutely determined to get a date with her, and I was absolutely convinced that we needed to be together - she wasn’t so convinced! As our relationship progressed, I fell deeply, madly, hopelessly, and desperately in love.
I’ll never forget that first summer we were apart. I couldn’t function – I didn’t think I was going to be able to make it an entire summer without seeing her. So on July 4th weekend, I hitchhiked 800 miles each way to see her, even though our time together lasted only 36 hours.
When I finally made it to her house, she walked out onto the porch. I fell in love all over again. I hadn’t forgotten what she looked like or what her voice sounded like, but it was a fresh sensation of love rushing through my soul.
Luella has been my wife for 42 years (I was married at 7), and even to this day, when I go on long international trips, I experience a similar sensation when I get back to my loft. Even though life with Luella has become so familiar, there’s something about her that makes me fall in love again.
What Is Christianity?
If you had to write a short description of Christianity, what would you write? If you had one sentence to capture the essence of your belief, how would you phrase it? I’ll give you 5 common answers:
- Christianity is having your sins forgiven and going to Heaven
- Christianity is a commitment to ministry within the body of Christ
- Christianity is a commitment to evangelism and service
- Christianity is theology that provides answers for major life questions
- Christianity is a moral code for daily living
None of these answers are wrong. Christianity is absolutely about justification and eternity; Christianity most definitely includes ministry and evangelism; Christian theology provides a framework to interpret life; and Christianity does lay out a moral code for daily living.
However, at its essential core, Christianity is not about activity, theology, or evangelism. All of those things are good and meaningful parts of Christianity, but they miss one key ingredient.
The Missing Ingredient
In a word, Christianity is about love. The core of the Christian message is the comfort of God’s love for undeserving sinners, coupled with the call that Christians should love God above else. Christianity is about a life altering, agenda-setting, love relationship.
The message of the Bible is that God has moved toward me in love when I really deserved His condemnation. He’s wrapped His arms of love around me and He’s in the process of changing me at the level of my heart.
If you remove this fundamental love relationship, all you’re left with is theology and rules. Those five common answers to Christianity suddenly become dangerous and damaging when you forget that their foundation is built upon love.
What About You?
Is your faith more about an organization, meetings, and activities than it is about a deep appreciation and affection for Christ? Imagine what my marriage would look like if I wasn’t personally in love with Luella. Sure, we might go out to dinner, participate in church activities, and visit family together, but if you take away the love we have for each other, you couldn’t call that a healthy marriage.
At street level, where the rubber-meets-the-road, do you really love the Lord? Do you get a fresh sensation of awe when you meditate on the majesty of God? Do you get a fresh rush of gratitude when you reflect on the Cross? Even if you’ve walked with the Lord for decades, do you still experience a fresh appreciation for His Word?
I’m concerned that many Christians experience a stale “romantic” relationship with the Lord. As I travel around the world, I'm saddened to discover that Christianity has often been reduced to a Christ-less Christianity of rules and activities.
I would encourage you, right here and right now as you're reading this Article, to reflect on your relationship with Jesus. Don't reconsider "Christianity" in the corporate sense of the word - keep it personal.
Meditate on His beauty. Focus on His glory. Bask in His grace. Fall in love again with your Savior.