What is the Point of Being a Christian?

I just finished reading a book by Timothy Radcliffe, OP, with that provocative title.   At one level, it is possible to answer the question by saying that there doesn’t have to be a point to being Christian.  If one believes in the truth of Christianity, one is a Christian simply because there is no other way to be.  There doesn’t have to be any other reason.  As Radcliffe notes in his Introduction, “If Christianity is true, then it does not have a point other than to point to God who is the point of everything…The point of any religion is to point to God who is the point of everything.”

At another level, however, the question asks something that is very important.  Radcliffe observes, “These truths to which we adhere must have some consequences in one’s life…If the truths of Christian teaching do not have any effects on one’s life, any fruit, then what sort of truths would they be?  If God is the point of everything, then being religious, being pointed toward God as one’s ultimate goal, must show itself somehow in one’s life.”

So to ask: what is the point of being a Christian really asks (to put it in personal terms): what difference does your being a Christian make in your life and the life of the world?  And that is a question that each Christian needs to answer.

There are many ways one could answer that question.  For Radcliffe, a significant part of the answer has to do with hope.  What Christians have to offer the world, Radcliffe believes, is hope, “hope stripped of its secular crutches, new and fresh and desirable.”  We Christians may not have quick answers to some of the world’s most difficult problems, but we have a story of the future, a future of the triumph of good over evil, of the coming of the Kingdom and the end of death and suffering.  As Radcliffe notes, “If we are able to find ways to live and share our Christian hope, then we shall offer something for which the world is thirsting.”

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2 thoughts on “What is the Point of Being a Christian?

  1. I’ve often asked myself the same question… why? and then I come to somewhat the same conclusion: I believe, and I have no other choice. But, still, why? What does it do for me and the world? Accepting God’s love (especially in the form of the Risen Christ) sets me free to be what I am meant to be. It gives me a way to get beyond myself and share in the creation of the world around us. And, I believe, to help to leave the place and people in it, better than I found it/them.

  2. I think that what we have to offer is a very unique kind of love — a love that does not come from us, but which we participate in because we are chosen by God through Jesus Christ. As St. John writes, “We love, because He first loved us.” 1 John 4:19 (RSV). God loves us, and because of that we can share that love with others.

    Our hope — the grand and wonderful hope we have in the resurrection — is powerful precisely because of God’s love. So is our faith. So, at the end of the day, God’s love is at the center of everything.

    So, I think that the point of being a Christian is to receive God’s love through Jesus Christ and to share the fruit of that love with others. And that means having faith in God, having hope for the future through Jesus Christ, and sharing the love that God has shown to us with others.

    “So, faith, hope, love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” St. Paul, 1 Cor. 13:13 (RSV).

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