This one word describes christianity the best

By: Tanwin Tanoto

Okay before you start reading, let me get one thing clear. Yes, I do understand that you cannot reduce Christianity (or anything for that matter) to a single word. But I believe this could still be helpful to show us what is different or unique about Christianity in a simple term. But before I write about what Christianity is, I'll write about what Christianity is not.

Christianity is not a religion. From the outside, Christianity may resemble a religion. With its rituals, holy book, place of worship and concept of deity it is hard to see Christianity not as a religion. But unlike other religions, Christianity is not defined by its rituals to reach God. Christianity is a story of God reaching men.

Christianity is not a lifestyle. Most of us who reject Christianity as a religion would say that it is a lifestyle. But I disagree. Christianity is not merely a lifestyle - it's so much deeper than that. If we label Christianity only as a lifestyle, we reduce it to something that is temporary, beneficial only to us, and focused on change - just like your gym membership. But again Christianity is not something you take on temporarily like Zumba, but it's something that is done to you permanently. Christianity is not something you take on when you need to change, it's something that is done to you so you are changed.

So what is it? How can we sum up Christianity in one word? Well, here it is...

Christianity is substitution.

Throughout the bible, from the Old Testament to the New Testament, the redemption narrative is about an exchange. We read this when Adam and Eve first sinned, God exchanged their nakedness with a sacrifice of an animal skin (that God killed Himself). Then we read this in the story of Abraham and Jacob where God Himself provided the sacrifice in place of Jacob. Before the great Exodus, God substitutes the lives of the firstborn with the sacrifice of the lamb. The atonement rituals and laws in Leviticus are all about substitution. Our sins are substituted by the sacrifices done by the high priest through the sacrificial lamb. However, this substitution climaxes in the New Testament through Jesus.

Jesus provides the ultimate substitute for us. Jesus becomes sin so we can be forgiven and declared righteous. Jesus was cursed so we can be blessed. Jesus was bruised so we can be healed. Jesus was left alone so we can be reconciled to God. Jesus died on the cross so we can live.

Next time you read the Bible, look for this theme. Substitution can be found all over the Bible because it is one of the inter-testamental themes that can be found from Genesis through Revelation. Substitution is one of the themes for God's great redemptive story.

Christianity is not a religion, neither it's a lifestyle. Christianity is a substitution - A story of how God substitutes our sins for His Son so we can be forgiven and restored to Him. Because without substitution, we can never be righteous.

If Christianity is less than substitution, we have nothing to hope for. But because Christianity is a substitution, we have everything to worship God for.