I was driving the other day, listening to music on the Christian radio station, and thinking about different religions and what makes Christianity distinctive. I realized I could sum up Christianity in two words: “love” and “life.” If hard-pressed, I’d go with just “love.” Sure there are lots of doctrines and teachings and such to learn, but the essence is love. “God so loved the world that He gave His only Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16). The greatest commandment is to love the Lord with all your heart… and love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:37-39).
Out of love God gave us the promise of a Savior from the very beginning (Genesis 3:15). Out of love Jesus came and lived among us, suffered the worst at the hands of men, died, and rose again, bringing life to all who would follow Him. Out of love the Holy Spirit comforts us, leads us, and prays for us.
God loves us and gives us life. “Perfect love drives out fear… we love because He first loved us” (1 John 4:18-19). In Christ we lawbreakers no longer have to fear a holy and just God (because Jesus took our punishment upon Himself), but we respond to God in love, and that love becomes our motivating factor. Other religions may offer “salvation” based on their followers’ efforts, good deeds, enlightened understanding… saving themselves by their bootstraps, if you will, based essentially on their own works. Man reaching up to God. The tower of Babel.
Christianity is God reaching down to man. God loves. God seeks and saves. He knows we can’t reach Him so He comes to us. Grace alone. Faith alone. Amen.