What comes to mind when you hear the word “religion”? What about “Christianity”?
For some of us, the two brands are mutually exclusive. For others, they are one and the same. Our upbringings, personal experiences, and even our culture shape our perceptions of religion and Christianity.
Too often, the picture doesn’t tell a very good story.
Perhaps the root to religion’s—any religion’s—branding problem lies in its practices. Isn’t it true that many of the world’s religions could be characterized in this way: Sacred places are built for sacred men to interpret sacred texts as rules for sincere followers to live by.
This is what I call the Temple Model—a template for religion. Fueled by fear and superstition, religious rules and rituals work their way into the consciences of the well-meaning, thus shaping attitudes and driving behavior. And when groups of people become misguided, religion becomes dangerous. Evidence of this is found throughout human history.
But when Jesus showed up on the planet, he launched something brand-new—a new arrangement between God and man.
Instead of a place, Jesus established a movement for all people and all nations for all time—a movement where love replaced law keeping. In this movement, loving God is supreme, as demonstrated by how well we love others—all others. Jesus eliminated the Temple Model when he declared human beings the only remaining temples and rendered the dirt beneath our feet the most sacred of places. This new ethic compels us to treat others as sacred, just as we are sacred. It’s the brand-new filter through which decisions are made and Scripture is applied.
Yet we still see the Temple Model in action today. Old habits die hard, as they say.
But in Jesus’s new movement, we don’t have to live our lives in pursuit of simply making God happy. The brand of Christianity that Jesus inaugurated is so much bigger than that.
What if God’s love for us and for those around us began to inform our consciences and behaviors?
When that happens, then and not until then, will Christianity carry the brand Jesus intended. And Christians will no longer be known for what they’re against, but instead, what they’re for—a love for others demonstrated by Jesus himself.
It’s your move.
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