Churchianity vs. Christianity

Every Christmas season someone makes the point that it is easy to take “Christ” out of “Christmas” and replace him with shopping, good food, family, sports, or some other good thing that we associate with the holiday season. In the same spirit I’d suggest that we can take “Christ” out of “Christianity” and replace him with other good things such as church activities. But “Churchianity” doesn’t have the same appeal as “Christianity.”

When I think of Churchianity, I think of involvement, serving, programs, commitment, denominations, and other stuff like that. Note that all these things are very good and probably even necessary for the healthy Christian life. So why do I associate them with Churchianity? Because it’s possible to do good Christian things and miss Jesus.

It’s possible to read the Bible and miss Jesus because you are so focused on doing your duty or making it through the reading schedule. It’s possible to serve in the church and miss Jesus because you are more motivated by a sense of doing your part rather than serving your Savior. It’s possible to sing worship songs and miss Jesus because you are more drawn to the ooey gooey emotional feeling you get from the music. The Pharisees are a constant reminder that one can be very dedicated to religion, very committed to a certain kind of outward obedience and completely miss Jesus.

In light of the temptation to neglect Jesus even when I’m busy involved in church activities, I spent my summer telling myself that “It’s all about Jesus.” All I meant by that is that I want Jesus to be the center of my faith. I want to know Jesus and follow Jesus not just get more committed to religious activities. I want my serving to be done in the name of Jesus and for his glory.

In order to help my mind, heart, and soul be more centered on Jesus, I’ve done some reading both inside and outside the Bible that was intentionally Jesus focused. And I know that this sounds stupid but Jesus is pretty amazing.

Here’s one example of what I mean. At the end of Luke 4 the crowds in his hometown of Nazareth turned against him and “took him to the brow of the hill the town was built on in order to throw him off the cliff. But he walked right through the crowd and went on his way” (Luke 4:29-30).

There’s a lot to be amazed at in these verses including that Jesus was so powerful that he could easily walk away from an angry crowd and that after he walked away he went on preaching the message of salvation. But what I found most amazing in this passage is how it shows his great love on the cross.

If Jesus walked away from this mob trying to kill him, he could have walked away from the soldiers that arrested him in the garden. He could have walked away from Pilate’s interrogation. He could have walked away from the flogging and the cross. He could have called on twelve legions of angels to rescue him. But he didn’t.

Then while hanging on the cross, he was mocked.

In the same way the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders mocked him. “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! He’s the King of Israel! Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. (Matthew 27:41-43)

They missed the irony of their comments. Of course he could have saved himself. He did that back when he walked away from the angry crowd in Luke 4. But he couldn’t save himself and save others. They didn’t take his life from him. No, Jesus voluntarily laid down his life for sinners (see John 10:17-18). Because he loved sinners and wanted to rescue them from their sin, he willingly gave himself up to be crucified. I want to know and follow and serve and tell others about this Jesus who didn’t walk away but out of love laid down his life.

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