Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Christianity: One of Many Religions or Unique?

Which religion's God has revealed Himself in a Book that has endured for centuries?

Which religion's God has armed Himself, not with worldly power, but with love, kindness, grace, and forgiveness, in response to great evil?

Which religion's God has revealed Himself in three Persons who are unified as One?

Which religion's God has responded to our yearning for a "God with skin on" by becoming one of us?

Which religion's God has infinite hatred for sin, but infinite love for sinners?

Which religion's God has come seeking us even when we were not looking for Him?

Only one. Christianity.

I know that we live in an age where tolerance is the supreme virtue. All religions are now equally tolerated and honored. In the developed world, Christianity is looked at as just one religion among others. And, in a political sense, this is a good thing! We would not want to live under a dictatorship with a state religion. We would not want even Christianity to become a state religion. That would make us a dictatorship, the same as any Muslim country or as any remaining Communist country, like Cuba, China, and North Korea! Yet a case can be made for the uniqueness of Christianity among all other world religions. When measured alongside all other religions, Christianity stands out as one of a kind and in a class by itself!

What All Other World Religions Share in Common

I mean no offense to anyone who is a loyal follower of any world religion other than Christianity. I only present this to make a case for Christ and Christianity, and why you should examine His claims. My fellow Christians, we need to know why our faith is unique and we need to know what we believe. Now I know very little about most world religions. But I have a basic knowledge of them, enough to share what I believe all world religions share in common. First of all, all religions teach about placing faith in some kind of higher being. Or they teach placing faith in ourselves as "having divinity" or "finding our center in ourselves. The fact is, all religions teach some kind of faith to find meaning in this life beyond what it offers in a material sense. Even those religions that teach faith in ourselves teach this but that we are the objects of our own faith. All world religions teach one major thing. They teach that we are basically good and that we can work our way to salvation. They often differ as to what this salvation consists of and if there is even an afterlife. But, in some form or other, all religions teach "trying to live a virtuous life" and "good deeds as a way to salvation." Many world religions do teach about Jesus, but they always diverge in some way, from one of all the Biblical teachings. These religions consistently deny that Jesus is the the Son of God and the Member of the Holy Trinity. They teach that He was a man, a very good man, but still just a man. And all world religions claim that they can meet our deepest spiritual needs, even if they differ as to what these needs are.

What is the Problem?

On the face of it, it seems that this is a non-issue. But it is an issue to those of us who take Jesus seriously, including in John 14:6 where He made it stark-clear that He and He alone, is the only way to God the Father. Many people believe the teaching that "there are many paths to Heaven." This is totally contrary to Scripture, which bluntly tells us that only God, as He has revealed Himself in the Bible and by means of Christ, is the only way to salvation. From cover to cover, Scripture makes this clear. We cannot possibly misunderstand its meaning, unless we purposefully distort or deny its teaching. Yet if you take the time and trouble to check out His claims for Himself in the Gospels, you will see that Jesus more than has earned the right to make these claims. I believe that many people shun the claims of Christ and Christianity not because they are "not good enough" but because Jesus demands total commitment to Him, over everything else that we hold dear. The principles of Christianity are stricter than those of any other world religion, in one sense. The Christ of Christianity demands 100 percent commitment and it will cost us. But He also promises us all of His grace in this life, peace, and in the world to come, great heavenly reward. No other world religion makes such promises. So many world religions do make promises, the same ones Christianity makes. But do adherents see those promises become reality? One glaring example of a religion that fails its followers is Christian Science, which forbids followers to contact doctors and relies on home remedies. Because of that, many tragic, unneeded deaths have happened. We have heard of too many of such cases in the news. Another example are the Jehovah's Witnesses. Research tells us that they have the highest suicide rate of followers of any world religion. Can this have something to do with their being forbidden to celebrate even birthdays? Whatever their rules, all world religions teach their followers that following these rules will "save them." But can they?

What Shall We Conclude?

The Gospel of John is the ideal place to examine the claims of Christ. The Gospel of Matthew is also ideal. In the Gospels, you will find that Christ is the ultimate Way that God has revealed Himself to mankind. Only in Christianity has God come looking for us, in contrast to us looking for Him through good works. Only in Christianity has God personally involved Himself with us by becoming one of us through Christ. Only in Christianity has God displayed His power through grace and humility by means of Christ dying on a cross. Only in Christianity are we offered salvation as a free gift without having to work for it or to earn it in any way. Yes, we are asked to give all as Christians, but this comes AFTER we have received this free gift and in RESPONSE to receiving it. Only in Christianity are we offered a Person (Christ) as the way to holiness, rather than "trying to be holy" to get to God. It is ONLY in context of rejecting God's free grace in Christ, this this gift that cost Him His all, that we have the teaching of hell. Fellow Christians, whenever we get a chance and people show openness to wanting "something more" than what their religions or belief systems are offering them, we need to share our faith.

What do you think?

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