By Alan Bailey
What a great range of stories we read in this paper! The life journey of people varies so much depending on where you were born, what kind of upbringing you had and a host of other factors. So failure and success, happiness and sadness, wealth and poverty, acceptance and rejection all have a part in the fabric of ordinary lives. What is common to all is the desire to find contentment, an answer to the questions and problems we face as individuals and communities.
Those who read these pages regularly will know that the solutions people have found over and over again have been in a new relationship, finding Jesus as Lord and Saviour and friend. Past mistakes have been wiped out and a new strength experienced. Lives have been turned right around.
The cry is often heard that this is just religion which takes various forms. It is popular to believe that all religions say much the same thing and that they are equally unbelievable. But is this a true assessment?
A GREAT DIFFERENCE
An honest examination of even elementary things will show that Christianity is very different from all other faiths. To deny this is to show lack of understanding. Here are three truths that reveal a huge contrast.
ONE: Religion is the result of mankind seeking God (or some equivalent). This has resulted in the invention of deities and their rules and demands, which are then laid on the backs of devotees.
Christianity is based solely on what God has revealed. He gave the Ten Commandments; He became man and lived among us to teach us truth. So Christianity is God seeking mankind.
TWO: The message of all religions and cults is summed up in the word ”do.” The individual must save himself or herself. All destinies rest on performance. Only when you pass the tests will you have any hope at all. Sink or swim. It’s all up to you. Your good must outweigh the bad.
The Christian Gospel is summed up in the word “done.” At the centre of the message is Christ on the cross. He cried before He died: “It is finished.” The price was paid for sin, the door into God’s presence and favour was opened. Jesus rose from death and is able to save all who come to Him in faith. The good news is that the work is done; what we do is receive the benefit. The wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life. (Romans 6:23)
How can He be compared to the various religious leaders? He is utterly beyond them.
THREE: Followers of religion have no certainty about their status. The teachings themselves disallow any assurance that they are right on track to some future heaven. All that can be done is to keep trying, hoping and inevitably doubting.
Christians can rest on the promises of God’s Word. God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. (1 John 5:11-12)
No wonder Jesus could say “I am the way, the truth and the life.”•