A short time ago I was made aware of a blog post written by an atheist. It was a bunch of tips for Christians on evangelising and it was a fascinating read. It said a lot of things that intrigued me but there was one single point that got me thinking. It was just the wording of a sentence that most people would skip past, but I believe it signifies a massive misunderstanding of Christianity by both those who call themselves Christians and those who don’t.
The point our friend was making was a valid one. He claimed that Christians need to value those they talk to as people and stop being ‘ambassadors for Christianity.’
Now at a first glance this gets a lot of Jesus followers up in arms. “Nooo!” we cry, “an ambassador for Christianity is the most important thing we can be! Are we not called to live not of this world, to be set apart?”
Yes we are. Don’t get me wrong.
However, Paul calls us to be ambassadors for Christ. Not Christianity. And although it may seem that I’m arguing semantics, I believe that there is a key difference here.
What is Christianity? Well, the definition of a Christian is a follower of Christ so it makes sense that Christianity is the way of life, habits, and traditions of a follower of Christ. A quick query to good old Uncle Google suggests that Christianity is “the religion based on the person and teachings of Jesus Christ, or its beliefs and practices.” (1)
I would suggest then that if we are ambassadors of Christianity, it is no different to being an ambassador of any other lifestyle. We can get our friends along to church events, outreaches, home-groups and even prayer meetings but they are just there because they have been convinced to change their lifestyle.
That’s no different to convincing them to go vegan, or start working out, or maybe even join another religion.
You see there is one single thing about Christianity that separates it from every other belief system.
What is that thing?
It is Jesus Christ.
He is the key difference between Christianity and every other religion.
CS Lewis illustrates this in his usual eloquence, “There is no halfway house and there is no parallel in other religions.” (2)
Jesus claimed not just that he had a divine revelation or that he knew how to get to heaven. He declared that he was the Son of God and the only way to eternal life. Then he backed it up by letting himself be crucified and rising again from the dead.
All other religious leaders have their bodies in graves.
Jesus is alive.
All other religious leaders claimed that we must earn our way to heaven.
Christ told us we simply need to accept his gift of life.
All the other religious leaders pointed us towards some hope.
Jesus is our hope.
I am not just a follower of practices and rules taught by a man from 2000 years ago.
I am a follower of the living God who gave up his life so that I can be united with him for eternity.
Going to church does not make me a Christian. Praying and reading the Bible doesn’t make me a Christian. Following the traditions of Christianity does not make me a Christian.
I am a Christian because I choose to put my hope in Jesus, give up my selfish desires, and let him make me new every day.
So if I am trying to convert others to a lifestyle, to traditions and rituals, I am doing them a disservice. Regardless of how convincing I am and how encouraging it is for them, I have missed the point.
I need to introduce them to my friend. My Saviour. My God and King.
When they know him then everything else can follow. Church is an opportunity to get closer to him. Homegroups are a chance to share his love with others. Prayer meetings become a time of letting his will change our hearts.
Their lifestyle will change for sure. But not for the sake of improving their way of living. It will change because they have been introduced to the radical power of a living God.
So when we talk to those who don’t know our Lord, let’s take every opportunity to introduce them. Not just to count converts, or so church numbers can grow, or even so that we can improve their lifestyle.
Let’s introduce them to our Saviour because deep down they are lost, lonely, and broken. They have such value, made in the image of a creator who desperately wants them to turn back to him. They do not know what to hope for and what lies ahead, but we can help them meet the one who planned them before their very birth.
They are not a number, or a statistic, or even a possibility. They are valued and loved by God and he wants them, his desire is for them, that they might taste the freedom he has for them.
As we have been forgiven, let us forgive.
As we have been loved, let us love.
As we let Christ change us, he will use us to change others.
Story: Caleb Slaney
Caleb is a student studying Communications. You can check out his blog here.
- “Christianity.” Oxford Dictionaries,oxforddictionaries.com/definition/Christianity
- C.S.Lewis, God in the Dock (Oxford: WM. B. Eerdmans, 1972), 157
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