Often times people will ask me if I am religious, or to what religion do I adhere. I do not say it, but I want to respond by saying I am not religious; rather, I am gospel, but that sounds funny. Even though it sounds funny, I think the distinction is worth making.
Advice Vs. News
Religion tells us what we must do in order for God to accept us, which is advice. When someone gives you advice, they often are telling you how you can be accepted by someone. For example, if you go on a job interview, a recruiter will usually tell you to get a hair cut, put on a suit and tie, bring a professionally printed resume, smile, shake their hand, and be polite to everyone you meet. Essentially, they are giving you advice on how to get your potential employer to think you are a worthy candidate.
In contrast, the Gospel tells us not what we must do, but what God has done, which is news. Think about it like this: When the 10 o’clock news comes on, they are not providing you with advice on what should happen in the city, they are telling you what happened that day. Likewise, the Gospel does not provide us with a set of rules or rituals we must follow in order to be accepted by God; rather, it tells us that God sent His Son, His only begotten Son, Jesus, to pay for the sins of mankind, which He was able to do because He lived a perfect life, enabling Him to be the perfect sacrifice for mankind. He willingly faced the cross, dying in our place, in order to reconcile mankind to God. The judgment we deserve, Jesus took in our place, so our relationship with God could be restored, and so God could remain a God of justice.
So then, when all other religions tell us what we must do in order for God to accept us, they are essentially giving us advice; not so with Christianity. Instead of giving us advice, Christianity gives us news, good news, that when believed, will restore man’s relationship with God.
We Often Live As If Christianity Provides Advice
So if Christianity provides news instead of advice, why do those who call themselves Christians live as if Christianity is providing advice? Christians often live like Christianity is giving advice by asking questions such as:
How often and for how long do I have to read my Bible? How many people do I have to tell about the gospel? How much money do I have to tithe every month? How many times do I have to forgive others? How far is too far when it comes to sex before marriage? How many times a month do I have to go to church?
All of these questions, and others like them, show that one is treating Christianity as advice instead of news, and proves they do not understand the gospel message. They do not understand we, as Christians, should live differently not in order for God to accept us, but because we are already accepted. As Christians, we should want to live lives that reflect the commands in God’s Word because we have been redeemed and our hearts have been changed. As a result, we should see God’s law and commands, not as a set of rules we must follow or else, but as guidelines for how to live as those who are God’s people.
If you are questioning Christianity, then you need to understand that it is not like other religions. Christianity does not give a set of guidelines or rules one must follow, it gives good news that Jesus has accomplished what we could never accomplish, which is to reconcile man’s relationship with God.
On the other hand, if you are a Christian, you need to understand that obeying God’s rules do not earn you favor with God, nor do obeying His rules secure your salvation. Rather, one should obey God’s commands and law because they delight in God and want to bring Him glory.