“I have a difficult question to ask.”
“Go ahead and ask.”
“Um. … Er. … Well, I’m asking for a friend.”
Have you ever tried the I’m-asking-for-a-friend cover for an uncomfortable question to which you were the person who wanted an answer? I have. Sometimes we can be embarrassed to ask the questions we ponder deep in the quiet places of our soul, questions that may reveal doubts, personal struggles, or even sin. This blog series is designed to ask some of the uncomfortable questions that accompany our faith. We’re going to ask them so you don’t have to ask for a friend. -Kevin Carr
One week from today I will be in West Africa. There are many Christians in West Africa, but there are also many Muslims and followers of African Traditional Religions. I am preparing so that I can effectively build relationships and have conversations with these people.
We all need to be prepared to interact with people from other religions. Globalization has shrunk the world. This is why we can find authentic Indian and Moroccan food in Hendricks county, but why we can also find Indian Sikhs and Moroccan Muslims in our neighborhoods and workplaces. These new relationships can lead us to ask new questions about different religions.
One question that I often hear people ask is, “Are all religions the same?” The answer to that is both “yes” and “no.” All religions seek to address the same basic human needs, but, if you dig past the surface, they teach very different things about God, people, and the world.
What makes Christianity different from every other religion? This is a cheesy church answer, but, simply put, Jesus makes it different.
Here are a few ways that Jesus makes Christianity different from every other religion.
First, Jesus translates to every culture. The major religions of the world are attached to the cultures of their founders, but Christianity is not. For example, religious Muslims wear traditional Arabic clothing and Buddhist priests read Sanskrit, but Christians are free to wear whatever clothes they wish and read the Bible in their heart language. Jesus reached out to people whether they were Jew or Gentile. Because of that, Christianity started as a Jewish movement that fulfilled Jewish hopes, but it became a movement for people from every culture. That’s why the Bible says that people from “every nation, tribe, people and language” (Revelation 7:9) will one day worship God in Heaven.
Second, we are offered salvation through faith in Jesus. This belief is found in the original teachings of no other major world religion. The Bible teaches that we receive salvation by placing our faith in Jesus; it is not something that we win through good works (Ephesians 2:8-10). Simply put, people who follow religions like Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism do good works to be saved, while Christians do good works because they are saved.
Third, Jesus, God in flesh, sacrificed Himself for us. Jesus came down from His perfect throne in Heaven to live a painful human life, and to ultimately die. Does that sound like something that a god would do to you? This teaching, which is at the core of the Christian faith, stands in stark contrast to the teachings of many other religions and the lives that were lived by the leaders of many other religions.
Jesus makes Christianity superior to every other world religion, but we must also remember that God “wants all people to be saved” (1 Timothy 2:4). We must remember to tell people of other faiths about Jesus because He is the only way.