There is really only one definition of Christianity. Although it can be worded in various ways and translated in many languages, any accurate definition of Christianity embodies its root words: Christian and Christ. But Christianity is not merely a religion based on the teachings of Jesus, as it is most commonly understood to be; instead, it is better defined as the practical expression of the real Christian, the one who truly believes in Jesus as the Christ and who nurtures a mutually abiding relationship with Him.
Christianity is the expression of belief in Jesus Christ as the Son of God the Father, who was made intimately known to men and women by coming to earth in human form, to live and die and overcome death to live again, so that mankind may also live again spiritually in harmony with God through Him both now and forever. This “living again” or “new life” is granted individually upon this heartfelt belief. Without heartfelt belief in the deity of Christ, in the sacrifice of His life to pay for sin, and in His divine resurrection, as well as a humble surrender to and an individual acceptance of Christ as Lord and Savior, one is not a Christian and therefore cannot demonstrate true Christianity…period.
The spiritual rebirth that occurs from true belief results in permanent change. Just as someone is permanently changed by any significant experience, such as marriage, divorce, birth of a child, death of a parent, etc., a person having had a supernatural encounter with the living God is never the same. Because of the joy and peace experienced, many of these people become so enthusiastic, zealous and eager to share they are termed evangelical. Evangelical Christians make up some 20-25% of expected voters in the upcoming election.
Many claim Christianity their religion as a birthright. But it is not a right of birth or a legacy that can be passed automatically from one generation to another. Christianity is the result of belief. Beliefs are thoughts accepted as truths. One cannot oblige specific thinking in the mind of another nor force the acceptance of belief upon another; this is an impossibility. Each person thinks his own thoughts based on the information he has received through his own experiences, and then formulates his own beliefs by determining what he accepts as truth. However, what one accepts as truth does not alter the truth itself. 2 plus 2 equals 4 regardless of what one believes. This is why education is so vital, and why evangelicals are deeply concerned with sharing their faith so that others will choose to believe fact over fiction. This drive to preserve truth also fuels many evangelicals’ interests and participation in the political process.
In an August 15, 2008 interview with ABC News, Pastor and Author Rick Warren suggested that evangelical Christians may not consider either presumed presidential candidate an evangelical. But perhaps we evangelicals are too hard on our presidential candidates. Perhaps we should remember we are electing a president, not a preacher. Only God can see into the heart of man.
Pastor Rick said that “politics is the art of compromise.” If this is true, then for someone of any faith to be successful in politics, he must somehow reconcile his personal convictions with the necessary component of bridging, unifying and compromising for the sake of peaceful consensus. It is a daunting task at best, but it is possible to be enthusiastic, even evangelical, about one’s faith, yet temper one's enthusiasm in order to successfully keep the charge to which he is called. This temperance does not necessarily indicate compromise of conviction. It may simply be a compromise of expression for the sake of reaching all God’s people for the common good.
Evangelical Christians must consider the candidates' convictions, but should be careful to evaluate their content over their expression. Certainly Christians should be alert to any political compromise that violates the truth of God’s Word. Regardless of your political persuasion, I hope you will join me in praying for both candidates during this election season, as both will make lasting marks on our country.