When Jesus was asked what the “great commandment” was, he answered that it was to love God with all your heart, soul, and mind. Then he said that the second great commandment was similar, it was to love your neighbor as yourself.
The person asking the question had expected Jesus to pick one of the ten commandments given by Moses. But Jesus answer, I am told, was based on another Jewish tradition... one which may even pre-date Moses' commandments. The person who asked the question agreed with Jesus answer.
To me, being a Christian means striving to follow those two laws given by Jesus; nothing more, and nothing less. Jesus said, on those two commandments rested all the law and the prophets. He also said, “If you love me, keep my commandments.” He did not say “keep Moses' commandments”.
Most Christian denominations have a creed that their members must adopt. These creeds vary from one denomination to another but, for the most part, they are usually based on the rulings of the Council of Nicaea (frequently misspelled Nicea).
The Council of Nicaea was a convention of priests that convened in the year 325AD. If you saw the movie or read the book “The DaVinci Code” you may recall the Council of Nicaea being discussed in it. The council voted on a number of questions that faced the church in its early days. One of the things they did was to elect Jesus to the office of God. This is one of their findings that Christian Scientists do not adopt. To a Christian Scientist, Jesus as the Son of God revealed to the world the living Christ, God's true idea of man. I've heard it said that we can think of the “true idea” as the “blueprint” for man. So Jesus conformed to God's blueprint for us better than anyone else ever has. By doing that, he showed all of us the true spiritual potential we each derive from our relationship with God, and thereby he earned the title of Jesus the Christ, or Christ Jesus.
Now this is quite different than the conclusions drawn by the Council of Nicea, but in fairness one has to remember that the priests who made up the council lived in a time when hardly anyone could read or write. Many people believed that there was a city filled with gods atop Mount Olympus. These priests, themselves, believed that the world was flat, that the Sun revolved around the Earth, and that the Earth was the center of the universe. Few people today believe these things about our solar system, although our eyes alone might indicate to us that they are true.
So, getting back to my personal perspective on Christianity, if being a Christian means loving God above all things and loving one's neighbor as one's self, then there are two questions that need to be addressed.
First, who is God? As I've said before, to a Christian Scientist God is Principle, Mind, Soul, Spirt, Life, Truth, and Love.
Second, Who is my neighbor? Someone once asked Jesus that. Tomorrow I'll talk about his answer.
For now, let me tell you why I hold to this view of what truly makes a Christian. Because it's universal rather than denominational. There are people of many non-Christian denominations who also live by these rules. It's even easy to imagine that somewhere on other planets there may be people who've never heard of Jesus, but who love Life and Truth above all things, and love their fellow beings as themselves.