The Difference Between Jesus and Christianity

At Vision New England’s recent GO ConferenceCarl Medearis said something that I have been contemplating. He interviewed fifty random people at a mall in Boulder, Colorado, asking them, “We’d like to know your thoughts on Christianity.” Fifty out of fifty people responded negatively.

Then, he asked fifty people what they thought about the person of Jesus of Nazareth. All fifty were positive.

While the word “Christian” means literally “little Christ,” there is a major discrepancy in people’s minds between Jesus and Christianity. This is a problem.unnamed (1)

So, what is the difference between Jesus and Christianity? Here are a few of my initial thoughts:

  • Christianity is an institution, but Jesus is a person.
  • Christianity tends to form doctrinal systems and ideologies, whereas Jesus extends and lives in relationship.
  • Christianity says, “Believe this,” but Jesus says, “Come, follow me.”

I am burdened by the fact that people have such different impressions of the Christian Church rather than that of Jesus. During a book signing, I had the opportunity to ask Carl Medearis, “So, what do we do about this?”

He said that he has created entirely separate structures in his mind separating Jesus and the Church. However, I’m not sure that’s the answer, because the Church is called to embody the message of Christ. To separate Jesus from the Church would be the biggest tragedy of all.

What do you think? How can we help the Church look more like Jesus? I’m not exactly sure what the answer is, but I am certain that I want to be a part of this change in the world.

After Carl’s talk, I have a renewed perspective of the power in the person of Jesus Christ. Paul wrote, “I resolved to know nothing but Jesus and Him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:2). In these coming months, I am going to devote myself to studying the gospels, the stories describing who Jesus was and what He did. I want to know Jesus so intimately, as both savior and friend, that I can better carry his message in the world.

The gospel is good news because the person of Jesus has reconciled us to himself. While religion divides, Jesus unites. We don’t have to work to make unity happen, because Jesus is the uniter. All each of us has to do is live deeply in our relationship with Christ and point to Him.

 

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