My great friend Kent and I were having a beer in Michigan. Kent has a Doctorate of Ministry from Carey Theological Seminary and a Masters of Divinity from Gordon Conwell Seminary. Plenty of education.
I was a pastor at the time. I was preaching on Sundays. I had been a “Christian” all my life although, admittedly, I have very little education (if education means Degrees).
Our conversation was around “What is the good news (or gospel)?” or “What is Christianity?” We were trying to come up with a definition... which is pretty telling, since we would both call ourselves that word.
It was astounding how hard it was for both of us to answer that question without going down all kinds of rabbit trails and complications.
Good news seems pretty easy to define. It’s something you haven’t heard and it’s good. You just won the lottery! You just won a free trip to Australia! You won first place! (It’s telling how often our examples of good have to do with winning something...)
Years later, I was in a college level class (taught by Kent) where students were trying to answer similar questions and they were watching YouTube videos, listening to lectures and trying to get it down to three minutes.
This was in a class where everyone had the same definition, for the most part, of the words in the definition, and they were struggling to agree on the good news and get it down to three minutes.
“You’re cancer free” takes 1 second and is pretty good (even fantastic) news.
If Christianity is centered around the “good news” and the good news is as complicated as it seems, well... I mean... I know why I’m not sure I’m a Christian and I know why so many people feel like me. Or worse, disinterested.
Do you want to be a Christian?
What does that mean?
I’m not sure. Agree to some words?
Which has all made me think through this whole thing quite a bit, especially since I’m seen as some kind of spokesmen for this thing. And I’ve come up with my definition.
Yeah, that’s it. That’s my definition. I understand that’s it not really a definition but more of a statement but I think Christianity is more of a statement than a definition anyway.
I do have a slightly longer version for those that need it:
You are valuable, your are worthy, you are beautiful, you are powerful. You are love. There is nothing more that needs to be done or can be done to make the authentic you any more of those things.
Believe it. Accept it. Have faith in it.
Some might ask where Jesus is in that definition and that’s a very fair question since Jesus is pretty much the main character of Christianity.
My response would be that Jesus is everywhere in it.