Christianity is not a set of beliefs or practices. Neither is it conveyed by membership in a church. That is not to say such things are undesirable. It just means they are not what makes a person a Christian. Christianity that amounts to more than a self-confessed title cannot be granted by earthly institutions or persons. Christianity is conferred upon a person by God, and God alone.
Christianity is an experience. The Bible is an account of what the experience is like. This is what Peter described when he said:
“For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, ‘This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.’ And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount.”
Peter was not describing his study of a book or an imaginary friendship. He said we heard the voice of God and we saw Jesus glorified before our very eyes. We are eyewitnesses. John, who was with Peter on the mountain, agrees.
“That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life; …That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you…”
John’s brother, James, was also there. Unfortunately, this witness was slain before he could write about what he saw. Although the fact that James died rather than recant his testimony to the reality of his experience.
Modern people discount the reliability of eyewitnesses unless, of course, they are the witness or the witness proves a particular point they wish to make. We seldom discount the power of personal experience. There have been many times I doubted that God was listening to me. I have wondered at times if God still cared. At times, I have given Him reason not to care. What no circumstance has ever been able to do is convince me God doesn’t exist. That is not a tribute to my faith; it is an unshakable personal experience. My experience is a shadow of what those men experienced on the mountain. Nevertheless, it is sufficient for my needs.
I believe because I have experienced the presence of God and the new birth He gives by grace. Christianity does not come from a book or a building; it is born of experience and sustained by a continued personal relationship with God.