The Essence of Christianity--Knowing God through Christ

When packing for a trip, one thinks of the essentials that one will need. It is never fun to get somewhere and find that something you need is missing from your suitcase. Sometimes what you have forgotten is so essential that you have to either borrow it from someone else or you have to go out and buy a new one.

Now what my husband considers essential for a trip and what I consider essential are two different things. I seem to have more items on my essential list than he does! Granted, I have probably grown to believe that some things are essential when perhaps I could get along without them, but nevertheless, I feel more prepared and comfortable when I have prepared for every eventuality!

In Christianity, we have accumulated many things. In fact, there is so much variance among Christian beliefs, that one wonders what is really the essential message of Christianity. What was at the essence of what Christ taught and how has Christianity lost the origins of the message of Christ?

At the very heart of Christianity, at its seed or core—its essence—is the message of love and inclusivity. In fact, Christ was criticized by the religious leaders of his day because he associated with folks that they thought were excluded from fellowship with God—those that they considered too sinful. Christ’s message was one of reconciliation with God and taught that God loved all people and that healing and wholeness were available to all regardless of their past, social standing, or gender. He also taught that the power of God was available now—that the kingdom was available in the present, not just at some future time.

It was and still is a radical concept, especially among Christians. How could it be that we have lost the essential message of Christianity? Christianity has accumulated a lot of baggage and as a result has lost the power and beauty of what Christ taught. In reality, Christ’s life and death built a bridge back to God. It created a path of reconciliation that all can travel on regardless of their belief system.

The essence of Christianity is love. Christ came to give us a picture of the beautiful love of God. It was reflected in his works of healing and restoration for humankind. It is voiced through his words revealing the heart and wisdom of God’s tender care for creation. At its core, the message of Christ is full of hope and healing.

One wonders how we can get the train back on its track. After two thousand years of sometimes getting the message right and sometimes getting it horribly wrong, how do we set the record straight as Christians and give the world the essential message of Christianity, that God is love and that God sent that love in the form of Christ and that Christ will live within you to empower you with God’s love so that we may all live together in harmony and love? It’s a pretty big agenda. But it’s an agenda that I can live with! It’s a far cry from the “liberal” or “conservative” agenda of Christianity today. It is the message of gnosis.

Gnosis takes you from a focus on external control and an external religion to a personal, knowing of God. Christ taught gnosis. He taught that to know him, was to know God. He taught an abiding relationship. His story of the vine and the branches found in St. John 15 outlines the essentials of a relationship with God. It is personal and powerful. It is based on a picture of a loving God, an immanent God, and a transforming God. It places us all together in an intimate relationship with God. “I am the vine, you are the branches. If you abide in me and I abide in you, you will bear much fruit.” That fruit is the fruit of love.

To discover the essence of Christianity is to discover the heart of a loving God that wants to be in intimate relationship with Its creation.. The path of gnosis leads us into a personal, life-changing knowledge of God.

There has never been a better time to sort out what we really need on our journey with God. Just as I have found that preparing for every eventuality when packing for a trip, just makes for a heavy suitcase and a burdensome journey, so Christianity has packed around a lot of extra, burdensome stuff. The essentials are more than enough. Travel lightly.


Rosel said…
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Julie Smith, MS said…
Thanks so much for the lovely comment. Blessings to you in your work, also.