When asked to define Christianity, we get a myriad of answers from just a religion, to Jesus followers, to wasting an hour every week in utter boredom. But I think Jesus gave us the answer as he was being pestered by the Pharisees:
“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul
and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it:
‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:36-40 NIV
Love the Lord your God is relationship with Father and Love your neighbor as yourself is relationship with other people. But the little phrase between them is the key: And the second is like it. That means they are of equal importance in the Kingdom. Most church communities expend most of their energies on the first and just give a nod to the second with potluck dinners and movie nights. Christianity is relationship. The rest of the stuff we argue about and hang our hats on are just gravy.
In addition, there is an inherent problem with the second: self-loathing is the most pervasive virus in our culture. Our family systems are built on performance rather than relationship; our school systems are entirely performance oriented; our church systems have lost their way and follow the culture of performance for acceptance; and every advertisement you’ve ever seen or heard is targeted toward self-loathing: you are nothing; you don’t measure up, until you have this product. We are ruled by it. Love your neighbor as yourself, so if I hate myself guess what I think of you?
The journey toward Christianity actually runs backward. We think that loving God will fix the rest but that’s clearly not true. With the help of the Holy Spirit we must first target a proper self-love. Now, this isn’t one of the heresies that have infected the Church in the past like the whole self-esteem movement, but is a revelation of what the Word says about us. A good example is:
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus
Romans 12:1 NIV
In Christ we must first learn to love ourselves, only then may we love others, and in the end the love we have for Father is pure, self-less and nurturing.
Other than the Bible, the People Code (aka Color Code) is the most important book I’ve ever read. Because if Christianity is entirely about relationship then ought not our focus and attention be riveted upon that very thing. As we use it again and again in our Advanced Wholeness Retreats we see people set free to understand that they aren’t defective, they are just Red, or Blue, or White, or Yellow. I have watched people almost get born again all over again with these revelations. The liberty to enjoy oneself – warts and all – unlocks relationship with others – since we don’t condemn US we can freely not condemn THEM – and the only way to truly discover Father is through the personalities of each person around us. Then, we can be Jesus followers as he intended.