How is Christianity different to the other religions?
Well – When many people think of religion they think of a set of rules and regulations, traditions and obligations. What we uniquely find in Christianity is a God who wants something much deeper and more personal than that.
Christianity is based on God’s love and kindness. The Christian God loves me and you – and He is willing to go to great lengths to show it.
Significantly – this means that my friendship with God is not earned by my own efforts. This is the key area in which Christianity is unique among the religions.
In all other religions our ‘salvation’ and ‘good’ are earned through what we do – through our efforts, and the fulfilling of religious duties or rituals.
In Hinduism I am saved by overcoming karma and escaping endless incarnations by good works.
In Islam I am saved by belief in Allah, Muhammad his prophet, and good works.
In Buddhism it is about getting rid all desires through the eight-fold path.
But in Christianity I am saved by faith alone in Christ alone.
It is about what Christ Jesus has done – not what I do!
To explain that a bit: In love, at the cross, Christians believe God was present amongst us in Jesus. Jesus then died to take the punishment for OUR wrongs, so that we could be restored to a living, real relationship with God – who is over all.
– So our access to God and heaven doesn’t come from following a bunch of rules and regulations
– Nor from busying ourselves with rituals or habits, or being good.
– Instead –friendship with God is a gift from God – given to us despite the wrongs we have all done. With no catch other than the fact that we must choose to receive the gift.
Of course, after that, the Christian should do good. But the key point here is that good works are about us showing our love back to God because we’re so grateful for what he‘s already done – already given us. The good works aren’t what earns us the friendship – they are evidence of the friendship we already have.
Now – before finishing, there are certainly other areas in which Christianity is unique. In particular, this faith changes peoples lives in a really unique way.
Many religions people have spiritual experiences – but if you make a study of the testimonies of Christians – beyond the experiences – you’ll find that people’s lives somehow change significantly.
The pattern is remarkable. It also follows that, wherever there has been a sustained Christian influence in a nation or society, that amazing Christian values like charity, equality, tolerance and freedom have come into those societies, making them – not perfect, but surprisingly good places to live.
This certainly includes our own nation, which is built upon this same Christian foundation, in terms of the values we embrace as New Zealanders.
So – how is Christianity different amongst all the religions?
Beyond its unique impact – the main thing is in how we get to God: It’s about what he has done, not about what we must do – that’s the difference!