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This is a question millions of people ask or think about every day. Are all religions the same? Does it matter which religion I follow? Which – if any – religion is better than another?
If you’ve been reading my blog for any time, you might be surprised by my answer. I’d say “Yes, all religions are the same.” All religions teach the same basic idea: a person gets to heaven (or whatever the blissful afterlife is called) by doing more good than bad – by being a good person.
To find support for this position, you don’t have to look far. Just google “compare religions” or something similar, and you’ll find plenty of responses claiming all religions are basically the same.
One very popular “proof” of this claim is that some version of “The Golden Rule” is found in all major religions. If we all just treated everyone else like we wanted to be treated, the world would be great, and we’d all go to heaven.
Sounds nice. It just isn’t true. Oh, don’t get me wrong – the part about The Golden Rule being a part of all major religions is true. And maybe we’d even get along better. But if that’s what everyone placed their hope in for eternity – then no-one would be going to heaven.
Yes, basically all religions are the same. And they all lead to the same place: despair and pain in this life and ultimately eternal suffering in the next (it doesn’t matter if you call it hell or not – the suffering is real and eternal).
I can hear the objections already: “But what about Christianity? Isn’t it better than other religions?”
Is Christianity Better than Other Religions?
Well, yes and no.
Let’s look at the “No” side first.
No, Christianity – for most people who call themselves “Christian” – is not better than any other religion. I know dozens – and throughout my life have known hundreds (or more) – who call themselves Christians, but they are all hanging their eternity on being a good person. Just like all other religions. The good outweighing the bad. Living by The Golden Rule. Being kind to others. Being helpful.
While these are admirable traits they do not make any difference in eternity.
The idea that “my good deeds just have to outnumber my bad deeds and I’ll get into heaven” is NOT what the Bible teaches. But millions are lulled into a false sense of security by believing this. Or by thinking that just by being born into a “Christian” family or a “Christian” nation, going to a “Christian” school or university, or even attending a “Christian” church makes them right with God.
Again, this is NOT what the Bible teaches.
In the United States in 2020, there is still some cultural capital to be gained by calling oneself a Christian, by attending a respectable church, or by claiming that God is on your side (of whatever). Because of this the words “Christian” and “God” are routinely adopted by people with widely varying viewpoints and beliefs.
“God” is co-opted for every political viewpoint, no matter how opposed those views are. Claims of being a “good Christian” echo throughout the mediasphere and Internet. And accusations of “you cannot be a Christian, if you believe….” are just as common.
If Christianity is so much better than other religions, why – in the name of “Christianity” – is there so much divisiveness? I argue that it’s because “Christianity” is, in fact, just another ineffective, human-oriented religion.
But it wasn’t always that way. Which brings us to the “Yes, Christianity is better than any other religion.”
All Religions Are the Same, But…
What makes Biblical Christianity different from other religions? And different from the common and commonly accepted, watered-down version of Christianity seen throughout the United States (and other countries) currently?
There is one – and only one – key difference. Culturally acceptable Christianity is a religion, complete with many, many rules, traditions, and long lists of “do this” and “don’t do that.” Biblical Christianity, on the other hand, is NOT a religion. There are no lists of “do’s and don’ts.” No prerequisites, no required alms-giving or good works. No behavioral changes demanded.
Only one thing is necessary – to acknowledge Jesus Christ as the Son of God who came to earth as a man, lived a sinless life, died for the forgiveness of all sins, and then rose again on the third day. To acknowledge that this Jesus Christ – so perfectly pictured for us in the four gospels – wants nothing more than to be in an intimate, personal, eternal relationship with you.
Yes, you. The suburban mom who, instead of juggling all the plates, is constantly dropping them. The single mom who works two jobs to make ends meet and thinks nobody cares or notices her. The burned-out teacher. The road-weary salesperson. The absentee dad. The broken veteran.
Whoever you are, whatever your hurts, whatever your history – the God of the universe is calling YOU into a relationship with Him through Jesus Christ.
That is what makes Biblical Christianity better. It is not a religion. It is a relationship with the God who created the universe, through His Son Jesus Christ. There are no rules because no relationship thrives within rules. Relationships grow over time as love, respect, trust, and mutual understanding grows.
God already knows everything about you and still wants you. He knows all about you and still loves you. This makes Biblical Christianity NOT a religion. And so much better than any religion mankind has ever invented.
To get that relationship all you need to do is admit you’re a sinner in need of a Savior.
Jesus Isn’t a Religion
Yes, all religions are the same – even “Christianity.” But having a relationship with Jesus Christ isn’t a religion. Jesus is a person. A real person who really lived and died and rose from the dead. He is also God – completely and fully. And this God-man Jesus wants you to walk with Him through this life. That’s a relationship – not a religion.
I’ve been walking with Jesus for many years. And many times, I have tried to make that relationship into a religion – a list of do’s and don’ts, of shoulds and shouldn’ts. I’ve wanted a checklist to prove I’m doing it all right. I tried to put God into the box of religion – a box I could wrap my mind around and that would fit nicely into my life.
It never worked, because that isn’t how relationships grow. Relationships thrive on time spent together, sharing thoughts, dreams, and fears. They thrive on honesty and forgiveness and love and risk-taking. They thrive on doing life together.
It’s no different with a relationship with Jesus. You need to spend time together. You need to be honest and vulnerable. You need to “do life” with Jesus.
The question for you is this: Do you want a tidy religion that includes Jesus? Or do you want the Omnipotent God of all Creation (because that’s what Jesus is) to become not only your Lord (because that’s also what He is) but also your Guide, Confidante, and Best Friend?
Do you want religion or Jesus? You can’t have both.