Christianity isn’t really a religion. If you take a lot of comfort in rules, then true Christianity will disappoint you. Christianity is not a rule-based system. It is a faith-based system. The object of our faith is in Jesus. Faith in what Jesus accomplished on the cross at Calvary is the central component of Christianity. Christians believe that Jesus died in order to pay the price for our sins. That payment assures our eternity. And that eternal assurance enables us to live in obedience and ongoing faith in His divine care. Faith means simply, every single day, giving every single aspect of our lives to Him.
Our faith compels us to respond to God in obedience. We obey Jesus because we trust Him. But our actions are in response to what Jesus did for us first. This is why Christians say that we are saved by grace through faith. God, through His grace, gave us the free gift of eternal salvation because of what Jesus did. We receive the gift by faith in Jesus. This means we choose to believe that Jesus was who He claimed to be and that what He said was true.
The basic ideas of Christianity are simple. And the basics are all that really matter. With respect to my fellow Christians, much of the rest of it that has been added along the way isn’t really Biblical doctrine; it’s the manifestation of man’s interpretation of that doctrine. So whether it’s debts or trespasses to you, or whether you sing a particular hymn, the core belief system in who God is, who Jesus was, what He did and why and how you respond to all of it is all that really matters.
This is what separates Christianity from Islam, Judaism, Hinduism and other world religions. Christianity says that if you believe in Jesus you will go to Heaven. World religions, on the other hand, judge a person’s likelihood of entering Heaven against their adherence to rules.
But the irony is that the harder one tries to obey rules, the harder it becomes. It is almost ubiquitous among humanity, except perhaps for the most heartless and conscious-less people, that we engage in behaviors that we know we shouldn’t, but do them anyway. Paul eloquently explains this seeming paradox in his letter to the early Christian church in Rome.
Some things we simply know are bad for us- we eat too much, we drink too much, we spend too much money on things we shouldn’t. But we do them anyway. Other things are a bit more subtle. We engage in internal rationalization- after all, I’m not hurting anyone, or no one will ever know. We rationalize our way through life and justify ourselves because we think, Overall, I’m a good person. I try to do good things. I do more good things than bad things. We envision Heaven as having a giant and eternal scoreboard, and although at times by only a slight margin, we are winning the game.
This mentality is the basis for “religious” thinking. By following rules, and as long as the good outweighs the bad, we will eventually make it to Heaven. However, there are some flaws in this perspective. First of all, what happens (Heaven forbid) if you get hit by a bus? Your only hope is that at that particular moment, your good deeds in life have outweighed your bad. Personally, I have never done this math because I don’t have to. If I objectively view my life, I know that I have spent much more time serving myself than serving others. I know that I have done more hurtful things than helpful things. My life, especially my pre-Christian life was abysmally devoid of good things and instead filled with bad things.
Christians, on the other hand, define themselves based on one thing; what they believe about Jesus of Nazareth and how they respond to that belief. Christians believe that Jesus was the Son of God who was sacrificed for their sins. This sacrifice assures them of eternal salvation. And once our eternity is resolved, the few years we have on this planet are put into perspective. Instead of living our lives worrying about the things of this world, we begin to think about eternal things. We learn to lean on Him. And we use this life to develop our relationship with God and understand who He is.
 Ephesians 2:8.
 John 10:30.
 John 10:22-42.
 Romans 7:19.