Aren’t all religions the same?
What makes Christianity different and why it matters.
“Yeh, I believe in God, I just don’t believe in organized religion.”
“Muslim... Christian... They’re not that different. Both believe in God, right?”
“Just be a good person. That’s what matters.”
“It’s just a tradition. You know, the family you grow up in.”
We’ve all heard these comments. Maybe even said them or thought them ourselves. But the truth is, Christianity is different. Of all the religions in the world, Christianity stands alone. Well, at least according to how the Bible defines it.
Christianity isn’t about…
Sometimes to determine what something is you have to determine what it isn’t.
Christianity isn’t just about going to church. It’s more than just believing God exists. Christianity isn’t about a Caucasian dark-haired guy with a lamb on his shoulders. It’s not about Christmas, singing hymns, being prude, and sitting in hard pews.
Christianity is surrendering our whole lives, hearts and flesh to the Son of God who died to replace our mess. It’s receiving Jesus as the payment for what we can never afford and admitting no good behavior will help us attain the eternity we’ve attained by God’s grace.
To be a Christ-follower means to follow after God’s heart, to trust in His word no matter what, and care more for God’s glory than our own reputation. There is no ultimatum, just faith, hope, and love alive in us. Now, if this is you, praise God, because what you believe in is remarkably different.
Religious Christians versus relational Christians
Christianity is first and foremost a relationship. It’s a progressive “getting to know” and falling deeper in love with the God of the universe. Christianity is a constantly moving, always growing, much alive interaction with someone we choose to be our King. It’s not a set of rules to follow. Our faith is described in relational terms, as a marriage (Revelation 19:7), adoption (Ephesians 1:5), and friendship (John 15:14) based not on force but on free will.
The God of Christianity is the Father of Jesus Christ. Anyone who claims to believe in God, but not the Son of God, doesn’t believe the God of the bible (James 2:19). For instance, you can claim to know my dad. You may have heard of him and know some facts. But if you deny that I am his daughter, why, you don’t know my dad at all.
Although we may not understand everything in the word of God, by faith we believe it. As Christians we trust in the unseen.
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1
Salvation is by faith not works
God’s expectation far surpasses that of other religions, leaders, and gods. To be in a complete and whole relationship with God we must be completely without sin. In other words, perfect. The demand for perfection has never been so great, but God gave us his son Jesus who paid the price in full by living a perfect life. Even though we were haters of God, Christ is God’s proof of just how much he loves us (John 3:16).
In receiving Jesus’ payment for our sin we respond in faith and thanksgiving, which overflows into works. Works is not the measurement of our salvation, but it is the measurement of our faith.
What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? James 2:14
Our works can be fruitful for God when Jesus is our source (John 15:4-6). However God does not love us because of what we produce for Him. We are not more or less accepted because of what we do or how good we are. We are loved because Jesus bridged the gap between you and me and a Holy God. In real Christianity, God sees Jesus when He looks on His people. What a remarkable freedom that is found no where else, but in Jesus.
Share our differences!
So what do you say to someone who thinks our God is just the same? Here are a few ideas.
- Share your personal story. Explain how God pursued you even when you didn’t deserve it. Share how Jesus was the only perfect sacrifice to step in your place and nothing and no one else would do.
- Ask them questions, such as ‘What makes you want to get up in the morning?’ ‘What are some words to describe your life?’ Then, in your response, share how Christ fulfills these parts for you.
- Invite your friend to hang out with fellow Christians. Pray for your friend and for boldness! Go out with the power of the Spirit and leave the results to God.