Is Christianity a religion?
This was a question that was asked by a friend on his Facebook wall and it’s something that I decided to spend time looking up before I answered, and I’m glad I did because the truth that was revealed was very powerful to me.
Is Christianity a religion?
Yes, Christianity is a religion, and not it is not a religion. It depends on whether you are on the inside looking out, or the outside looking in; Either way most Christians don’t think of it as a religion and with good reason.
The term religion was essentially defined by an outside world looking in, and those of us on the inside looking out, take exception to being lumped in with every other religion when it isn’t a religion to us, but rather, a way of life.
From the inside out it is a way of life. Here’s the difference, and where I believe a lot of people are wrong on both sides… they fall to their own understanding and not rely on the tenets of faith they adhere to, or try to define Christianity apart from the faith itself.
When Jesus said, “I am the way” in the book of John, what was he referring to?
John 14:6 “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.“
Yes of course He meant the way to heaven, but there was a lot more to it than most people realize or miss.
Sources like Wikipedia and a lot of others define Christianity starting with Jesus’ life, which is wrong. The truth of the matter is that it didn’t start with Jesus, but ended with Jesus.
Jesus came to fulfill prophesy that existed for thousands of years prior, meaning the faith was alive long before it was ever defined by religion.
In fact, people who lived that life were called “followers of the way” or those that followed “that way of life” as was seen all through the book of acts. Again, many try to say that that refers to Jesus’ movement, however that is also wrong.
You have to remember that during that time, people weren’t identified by their beliefs or political standings or preferences as we see today. They were identified by their people. They were called Hebrew, or Roman, or Samaritan, or by whatever people they belonged to.
The way of life that they referred to first belonged to the Hebrew people, long before Jesus came on the scene, and what we are witnessing in the new testament is something special.
We are seeing the way of life being changed from being exlusive to a specific nation of people, to being made available to all of the world and to anyone who would believe, (again identified by people Jew and Gentile, or people not born Jewish).
What we see in the book of Acts, again, and for the most part, is a world trying to define a way of life that had existed without a “title” for thousands of years, and they called it “the way.”
The term “Christian” didn’t even exist until the book of Acts.
Acts 11:26 ”And when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch. And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.“
Again, the error came about because most people start with Jesus and they fail to consider that the way of life started much further back. They often reference Peter on the day of Pentecost (the feast of the Pentecost is a Jewish celebration).
In Acts, Peter, in his speech at Pentecost said, “Thou hast made known to me the ways of life…”
Acts 2:28 “Thou hast made known to me the ways of life; thou shalt make me full of joy with thy countenance.“
They would be right, however this was not the first mention of “the way” as many people believe. For that we have to go back to the Old Testament, back to the time of David and the book of Psalm.
Psalm 16:11 ”Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.“
This is what caught me as significant.
Notice the language and tense of Psalm 16:11 and Acts 2:28. In Psalm is says “Thou WILT show me” and in Acts it says, “Thou HAST made known.”
Remembering that Jesus came to fulfill prophesy, when He said “I am the way” it was also a declaration that prophesy was fulfilled in Him, and we see that declaration confirmed over and over again when we see the life being called “the way” or “that way” through the book of acts.
In essence what I discovered and what we are witnessing is one of the first documented fulfillments of prophesy by Jesus in the new testament.
So is Christianity a religion? I say no… and this is where I think the modern world can learn from Christianity.
We live in a world that is being divided more and more along lines of social, political, economic and personal constructs. It would be nice if we can roll back the clock and eliminate many of the things that ultimately separate and divide us, so much so, that we should be identified by the life we lead and the example we set for others.