[Disclaimer: “do hard things” is not my own phrase but the title of the book Do Hard Things, but I like the authors’ stance of opposing complacency and mediocrity.]

“Just a religion.” Is that what Christianity is?

Religion — if it’s what people normally think of religion — is missing the point: it’s the wrong attitude and the wrong idea. “Religion,” for most people, conjures the image of a box that you take out, a first aid kit for when things are bad and God is needed for a quick fix, a pay raise, a situation that has gotten out of your control — a get-out-of-jail-free pass.

It’s so much more than that. Who is God? Don’t you play God’s role to decide when your religion is applicable and when it is not rather than trying to see where God himself says it applies?

Christianity is not going to church every week. It’s not reading your Bible everyday or praying before you go to sleep or eat. These are part of being a Christian but not what makes someone a Christian.

Being a Christian is coming face to face with the one who made you, watched you fall away, and in pursuing you came to die in your place for your foolish sin. It’s coming face to face with your own wretchedness, your own depravity and inability to save yourself. It’s noticing that you have a capital punishment on your head and an incurable terminal sickness on your body — in short, that by any measure of what you can do, all hope is lost. Then, you are saved by a complete stranger who takes all the afflictions that are rightfully yours and dies in your place. Not only does he die, but he rises again and calls you to follow him in living in a way as to live a fulfilled life.

Being a Christian is a way of living. It’s a surrender to God’s principles that govern the cosmos. It’s a new reality, the hidden reality of both our own depravity and the amazing grace that we receive. It’s finding who we are: why we’re here and what we’re supposed to be doing.