Geoff was impressed with the testimony of his Christian friend, John. But, every time John called for Geoff to make a personal response to the claims of Christ on his life, he sidestepped the issue by raising some religious objection. And Geoff’s favourite objection was along these lines:
“It’s great for you John – your Christianity and all that. I can see it has made a real difference for you, and I respect that. But, that’s you! It’s your choice to be a Christian. I’m not sure it’s for me. After all, there are many religions in the world and I’m sure that they all have something to offer. Why do I have to become a Christian like you? After all, aren’t all religions basically the same?”
Geoff is like many people today. They know the difference having faith can make, and they admire the religious convictions of others. But, they don’t yet understand the uniqueness of the Christian faith and why it is absolutely necessary to become a genuine follower of Jesus Christ.
Take Geoff’s question which many people today think is true: Aren’t all religions the same? Behind this is the mistaken view that all that matters is that you believe in something – anything, just as long as you believe. But, for Christians it’s more than that – much more.
The importance of what you believe
We believe that it’s not just important that you believe, but what is really important is what you believe. You can have faith in something, but if that something turns out to be wrong then where are you? I know of a nurse who, one day, gave the wrong dose of eye drops to a new born baby and instead of helping the baby’s eyes, the drug actually blinded the baby for life. The nurse was sincere in her belief that she was doing the right thing – she was sincere, but wrong.
The same applies to religion. People can be totally sincere in their religious beliefs and practices, but what if their beliefs are in error? What if they are wrong to believe what they believe? Just because you believe something, it doesn’t mean you are right to believe it.
But people like Geoff think that it doesn’t really matter, because in the end, all religions are basically the same, and you cannot really say that this one is right and that one is wrong.
Everyone has to right to believe what they choose but that doesn’t mean that what they choose to believe is right!
But what about Geoff’s idea that all religions are the same? How could we test out that idea? Well, let’s start with the views of different religions about God Himself. If all religions are basically the same, then you would expect that they would all agree on this point – who is God?
But that’s not the case: Buddhism (in its purest form) believes that nothing is God while Hinduism believes that everything is God. Islam and Judaism believe in one God, who is not the Father of Jesus Christ. And Christianity declares that there is only one God and He is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Not much agreement there! One thing is for sure – they can’t all be right!
No. All religions are not the same. If you want to find the truth you are going to have to make up your mind which of the religious leaders was speaking the truth. Which religious belief system is right?
But that’s the problem! There are so many to choose from, so many to examine. Who has the time to search out the 2,600 religions of the world today! Even if you group these together into “families of religion’ you have 26 to choose from. No one lives long enough to try all these out. No wonder people give up.
Finding the truth in the midst of confusion
GK Chesterton, a great Christian author and philosopher said that when people stop believing the God of the Bible, they don’t end up believing in nothing, but end up believing in anything. How right he was. You can believe in anything these days – that God is a space man – or God is some ball of light – or (get this) even that God is you! How ridiculous it all becomes.
But where do we find truth in all this confusion of ideas and beliefs? Well fortunately, we don’t have to scour through all the mass of conflicting claims and contradictions of the world’s religions. In all religious history there has only ever been one who claimed to have the truth, to know the truth and to be the truth. And His name is Jesus!
And strangely enough – nearly all religions accept Jesus as being a great religious teacher, a prophet and a leader. So it seems right to ask the question, “What did Jesus teach?
Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life; no-one comes to the Father, except through me” (John 14:6). What a staggering claim! Jesus didn’t just say, “I know the truth” or “I am on the way.” Rather He claimed to be the very truth and the only way to God. This is why He also was able to offer life to all who accepted Him.
But how can we be sure that Jesus wasn’t mistaken, that He really is everything He claims to be? Well, a simple and reliable test is to examine the possibilities. Jesus could have been mad or bad – but if not, then He must be God, He must be who He claimed to be.
How’s that? Well, if he was sincere but wrong when He claimed to be the way the truth and the life – then that would make Him crazy, deluded! And if He knew He wasn’t what He claimed to be – that would make Him a liar! But, neither of these makes sense. Everything we know about Him from the Gospels shows us that He was neither mad nor bad. He did good, He inspired people and He earned the respect of many, many people – even those who disagreed with Him.
The only real alternative is to accept that Jesus is everything that He claimed to be and that He really is God and that He really is the Saviour.
But how is it that Jesus is the only way to God? Isn’t that a narrow view, even bigoted? I suppose you could argue that way. But, by the same token you could argue that it’s narrow to say 2+2=4. Or, the view that there are three sides (and only three sides) to a triangle could be equally portrayed as bigoted! Except for one thing. These are facts, plainly seen.
If we can accept that there is right and wrong in arithmetic and geometry, why cannot we understand that there is truth and error, right and wrong in spiritual matters?
Jesus qualifies to be your Saviour
Jesus earned the right to make such exclusive claims. You can search all the archives of all the great world religions, you can scour the pages of the popular religious paperbacks that fill the shelves in our bookshops but you will find only one who truly qualifies to be your Saviour, your Redeemer – Jesus Christ the Lamb of God.
At Easter time we remember two of the most unique features of the Christian faith and they have to do with Jesus’ death and resurrection. In these two things Jesus stands infinitely above the claims of every other religious leader in world history.
Jesus’ death on the cross was not the death of a martyr – one who died for a good cause. Neither was it the death of a criminal or a sinner who deserved to die. Even His enemies accepted He had done nothing wrong.
Jesus died on the cross to pay the price of the sins of the whole world. He took our place so that we can go free. He is the substitute sacrifice for our sins.
And His resurrection on the third day (the most attested miracle of the whole New Testament) is proof that Jesus is everything He claimed to be. He is not a dead religious leader – but the living Saviour.