It is common in our American culture to believe that all religions are equal. It is also common to respond to the question, “Why are you Christian?” by saying, “It was the way I was raised.” There is the common belief that we believe what we do because we have been indoctrinated through education, being socialized in our families and culture, which finally leads to internalization. Through these methods each person arrives at their core beliefs.
One conclusion is that there is no truth behind any religion. Religions are just made up so that the culture can survive. Another conclusion is that all religions are of equal value.
Christianity is different. First, Christians do not base their faith on what their culture teaches them, but their faith is based on a personal encounter with Jesus Christ. While faith in Jesus is passed on through sharing, it is not primarily why Christians believe. Christian belief is based on having an encounter with Jesus, which leads to an ongoing personal relationship with the person, Jesus.
Christianity is different also because Jesus is not about a philosophy, or a set of values, or moral norms, or socially accepted behaviors or beliefs. Christianity is about a person. That person is Jesus Christ, the Second Person of the Trinity. Naturally, there are Christian values and beliefs and morality that evolve from our encounter with Jesus, but our core experience of life is Jesus and his teachings, not a philosophy or the product of socialization.
Christianity is also different in that no one is compelled by force to be Christian. While some want to think that being Christian is the product of socialization, one can only be Christian as the result of making a free-will choice. As humans, we can either accept or reject Jesus. We can either accept or reject the teachings of the Bible and the church. We make a conscious choice about faith. We ultimately choose our path.
Obviously, Christianity has been misrepresented throughout history and used to harm whole groups of people, fight wars, and support evil, cause fear and traumatize people. Just because you claim to be Christian doesn’t prevent sin. Yet, where true Christianity is lived there is peace, justice, and love.
“May the Lord bless and keep you. May he let his face shine upon you and give you his peace.”