There are many misconceptions about the story of Christianity. The full story includes the entire story of the Bible, Judaism, and 2000 years of Christian History but ultimately, the story of Christianity is a story of redemption. That is what matters most. This is a 10,000 foot view of that redemptive story.
A long time ago, before there were such things as matter and energy and time, there was God. No one had created Him. He had always been there. He had infinite power and knowledge. He also had infinite love. In fact, His followers would later say that He was love, but love requires both lover and beloved.
This God who was infinitely loving was one essence, but existed in the form of three distinct persons: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Three persons existing in one being. The three persons of the triune God existed in loving relationship with each other before anything else was made.
God decided to create a good universe. A universe with free creatures who could share in His love through relationship with Him. Humans were made in His image. They were able to commune with Him and He tasked them to help bring order to the world. They were to represent God and His love to the world and bring the world’s response and praise back to Him. This is the way they were to be fulfilled as human beings made in the image of God.
Everything they needed to live a full, joyous life was provided by God, who loved them. He gave them the dignity to freely choose whether or not they would love and respect and obey Him in return. He wanted them to freely acknowledge His goodness and perfect love, for love is not love at all if it is coerced and not freely given. God gave them the choice to acknowledge Him or to elevate themselves over Him.
The humans decided they wanted to become their own gods, making their own rules under their own authority. They wanted to decide what was best for themselves, rejecting the loving guidance of their Creator. The goodness that flowed from the very nature of God was the true guide for human morality, but humans decided they wanted to choose what was right and wrong for themselves.
More than they realized, all of humanity was deeply connected. Though they were distinct individuals, their deep connection meant that all of human nature and all humanity was affected by the choices of the first humans.
Acting without the guidance of their Creator caused much pain, destruction and death. People from every corner of the world proved that they were poor judges of what it meant to be human. They continued to make the same choices. They elevated themselves and rejected God. They could not live the life they were designed to live when their relationship with their Creator was broken.
God desired to heal the relationship. His infinite justice required punishment but His infinite mercy desired pardon. God could not act against His own nature. He could not pardon at the expense of His justice… but He loved humanity and He had a plan to redeem them. He made a way for sinful creatures to be reborn as new creations who could be reconciled with their perfect Creator.
To do this, God humbled Himself and was born into the world as a man named Jesus. A man who was also God. A new creation to accomplish what the old creation had failed to do. A man who people could see and relate to. Someone who could show them what it meant to be the kind of human they were created to be. He lived the perfect human life they were designed to live. He sacrificially gave up His life for the good of them all, taking the consequences of God’s justice on Himself in their place.
God’s justice and mercy were both accomplished when Jesus died on a Roman cross and three days later rose to life again. He defeated sin and death once and for all, that humanity might be reconciled with their God.
To become a new creation in Jesus, humans did not have to work a lifetime to earn God’s favour. Instead, they had to believe that they were broken and in need of a saviour. They could not overcome their sin on their own. They had to realize that reaching into themselves and relying on their own strength was not enough to fix their brokenness. They had to see that they needed forgiveness and that they could not save themselves. They had to trust Jesus to do it for them. Then they could receive God’s grace, His unmerited favour, as a free gift from their Creator.
Many did not see their weakness or were too proud to admit it. Many knew they couldn’t save themselves but did not want to give up authority over their lives to anyone, not even God. Others trusted and believed that Jesus was the Saviour who would heal them. They were not better than those who didn’t believe. They were not more noble or more moral. They just knew that they were sinners, that they had failed, and that they were unable to be who they were created to be without the help of Jesus.
They trusted that God would accept Jesus’ perfection in place of their failure. They let His perfect life and sacrifice cover their sins. They had faith in Jesus to heal their broken relationship with God. Only then could they truly love Him and others the way they were meant to love. Only then did they receive the ultimate hope that they would spend a new life with Him in eternity. A new life where there would be no more death or mourning or crying or pain. A life where He would wipe every tear from their eyes.
That is the story of Christianity. I told it in the past tense, but the story is not over. I told it in the third person but each of us should hear it in the first. It’s easy to write about self-centred “humans” who have rejected God, but more difficult to admit that I am one of them. Even as a Christian, I focus on myself and reject Him on a regular basis. I am changing but I often fail. I am not strong enough or good enough to make myself right with God on my own. It wasn’t only the sin of my ancestors but my sin that made Jesus’ sacrifice necessary. He loved me so much He was willing to suffer and die so my relationship with God could be restored.
The Christian Story says that I need to trust in Jesus and that the same holds true for you. We all need redemption, and Jesus redeems. As a Christian I have hope and assurance of a new eternal world with no tears and I want every last image-bearer of God to join me there.