Christianity traces its beginning back to the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Central to all of this is
Jesusí resurrection. It has been rightly said that if the resurrection could be disproved, then Christianity would be just
another system among many moral and ethical systems in the world. The towering figure behind Christianity is Jesus Christ,
who, though sacrificed on a cross, rose bodily from the dead, and lives today.
The term Christianity does not appear in the Bible. The word Christian only makes brief appearances in
Acts 11:26, Acts
26:28, and 1 Peter 4:16. It was coined as an insult. The original
idea was to tease followers of Jesus because they were acting like "little Christs." In fact, authentic Christians have always
been those who claimed they had a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, based on faith. This relationship does not depend
on Christians living a certain way (itís not a reward). Rather, it is a relationship that results in a lifestyle that pleases
Christianity stands on the roots of Godís revelation through the Old Testament and the New Testament. In its development
around the world throughout twenty centuries, Christianity has taken on many forms and expressions. This has been going on for
so long that to those in one tradition, the worship styles and structure of other traditions often seem foreign, strange, and
even wrong. But the issue of right and wrong form always takes us back to Jesus Christ and the New Testament church. Our
practices must not be evaluated by whether we are comfortable with them, but rather by how closely they reflect the teaching
of Jesus and the general patterns of worship established by those who knew him best.
Very different streams of Christianity trace their origins back to Jesus. In fact, the heart of Christianity is about a
personal relationship with Jesus, lived out in a variety of ways. This variety of approaches does not make them different
religions. There is a common misconception in referring to different denominations (Catholics, Episcopalians, Baptists,
Methodists, Lutherans, Orthodox, etc.) as different religions. This they are not. They are varying expressions of the
teachings laid out in the Bible, combined with history, tradition, culture, and different emphases. To the degree that these
streams are faithful to Jesus Christ, they represent a beautiful diversity within the unity established by Jesus.
What you will find is that the people who have a genuine relationship with Jesus Christ manage to live beyond the
limitations of their backgrounds and traditions. Itís not that worship styles or leadership structures in churches arenít
significant or valuable. But ultimately, Christianity proves its message for all people by the way authentic believers get
along with other authentic believers whose practices may differ widely but whose faith rests on Jesus. "For God loved the
world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life"
(John 3:16). Christianity is the ongoing, living expression of Christís
work in the world. It represents Godís successful purposes in rescuing mankind from sin and providing his children with