This seems like such a basic and ridiculous question. It seems so obvious doesn’t it? Why am I bothering to ask this question? Yet, why is it that we have so many variations of this thing we call Christianity. Some of the variations seem to be in direct opposition to one another – appearing to stand for completely opposite things. It leaves me with the question of what is Christianity?
The answer depends on several things. Are we talking about Christianity the religion, the institution, the way of being, or something else?
All of these present different ideas and variations within those ideas.
And that’s not counting the things that aren’t religious that use Christianity for its own purposes – things like Christian Nationalism.
So what is Christianity? At its core Christianity is supposed to be about following the Christ. It’s the way of Christ if you take the word and break it down.
If that’s the case, then this seems easy – you take a look and see what Christ taught and go and do that.
So what might those things be? Love God, love everyone else. It’s really just that simple. And complicated. I guess you can try to spin it – plenty of people do. They give exceptions for who doesn’t qualify – because of their sexuality, nationality, skin color, beliefs, etc. But Jesus didn’t make those exceptions. He literally said love God and love your neighbor. And, oh, by the way, who is your neighbor? Everyone who is made in the image of God. He kept it simple. Humans make it complicated. We’re concerned with being right after all. We love control – especially controlling other people since we have control issues and are afraid to look at our own brokenness so it’s much better to expose other people’s and judge them so we can feel better about ourselves. Oy. We’re messed up.
Look, I can’t control what anyone else says or does. I might have some influence, but even that is pretty limited. I can’t even really influence what people think about me. You will think what you will think. What I have any control over, and that’s debatable really, is me – how I will act towards myself and others. That’s it.
I think Jesus understood this and it’s why he boiled the commandments down to love God and love your neighbor. Those are things you and I can do. They require nothing from anyone else.
What is Christianity? It’s complicated, and it’s simple. And that’s what makes it hard.