What is real Christianity and how can we find it in the world? Can we be led to Christ without Christianity? A short reflection on John 20 v 29.
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I’ve been reading a new book, written by Doug Pagitt called “A Christianity Worth Believing.” Right from the start, he expresses his faith in these terms: ‘I am a Christian, but I do not believe in Christianity.’ I think I know what he is saying, but I don’t necessarily agree with him. To me, Christianity is the spiritual vehicle for bringing us belief in Christ. Without some form of Christianity, none of us would ever get to know Jesus.
John 20:29 Then Jesus told him, "Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed."
Doug’s opinion is a bit like saying that I am a driver, but I do not believe in cars. Or I am a pilot, but I do not believe in airplanes; or even I am a writer, but I do not believe in words. You cannot have one without the other. Trying to be a Christian without Christianity is impossible. You have to find some source of Christian thought, material, scripture or teaching before you can begin to know Christ.
Let me put it this way. If you grew up in Mars, could you know Christ? The answer is obviously ‘no.’ The only way a Martian could learn about Jesus would be from a Christian from earth. Therefore, the only way in which we can become Christians these days is through Christianity. It might not be what we want, wish, or expect, but it is the truth. Christianity is the vehicle that Christ uses to bring, express, and share Himself to the world.
So when Doug says, ‘I don’t believe in Christianity,’ I think what he really means is this ‘I don’t believe in denominations.’ In this post-denominational world that we live in, I would agree with him wholeheartedly.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, we thank You for Your Church in the world, and we call it ‘Christianity’. It is the cradle in which our faith was formed and the vehicle through which our beliefs are transformed. Enable us, through our Christian lives, to attract others to You and, in so doing, let them find real Christianity. In Your Holy Name, we pray. Amen.
John Stuart is the pastor at Erin Presbyterian Church in Knoxville, Tennessee. If you would like to comment on today’s message, send him an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.