Thursday, May 01, 2008

What makes Christianity different.

I recently had the privilege to discuss religion and life with a friend. Our conversation went from one religion to another, about personal experiences and then to the philosophical question about morality, right and wrong, and the existence of evil. To be honest, I who consider myself as a seasoned person in topics like these was found to be dumbstrucked in the midst of the many statements that my friend has made. At that moment, I found myself almost convinced that what he said was true. One of the things that he asked me was "What makes Christianity different from other religions?" I thought that was a simple question so I told him, "well, Christ is only one that is still alive today." Then he replied back saying that in his religious scriptures, there are not one, but many instances of people coming back from the dead. Sign and wonders are natural occurrences in his religion. He then talked to me about his faith in God that dared him to walk on hot burning coal, not once, but seven times in his life.

So, how do you respond to that? God, to my friend is more than just a mere good idea. It is more than just a inheritance that you receive from your parents. I found myself almost unable to respond back. So I just let him speak on, and just listened to his points on why he is a vegetarian, and how he loathes people that claims to love animals and yet still eat meat. He sure makes a good preacher so I thought.

The next day, my mind pondered on what he said. Then for some reason, this thought came to mind. Come to think about it, it sounds more like a joke now. This is how it went:
A vegetarian was talking to a non-vegetarian. He was telling the non-vegetarian that to be holy, he should stop eating meat because eating meat means having to kill living creatures. Then came a vegan and he told the vegetarian that to be holier, he should not only refrain from eating meat, but also not use any animal products such as leather. A bit later, a fruitarian came and he told the vegan that to be even holier, his diet should only be fruits, in other words, food that can be harvested without killing the plant. Then came a Jainist who told the fruitarian that true holiness is when you don't harm any living creatures, including fruits. Finally, a tree came and said "Yo."

If you don't get the joke, that's fine. What I was trying to say is that the tree was probably the holiest of the lot as it doesn't harm anyone. I guess that if this was truly the case, what we can expect to see in heaven some day are many trees.

Then, it finally hit me. In the midst of the many claims and statements that were thrown to me, I now know what made Christianity different. It was Christ coming down to earth to save sinners. I am a sinner. No matter how much I can try to refrain myself from eating meat or do other acts that are deemed godly, I will never be good enough for a holy God. God in heaven is holy. His holiness is beyond our comprehension. We as mere mortals can't even prevent ourselves from having an ungodly thought, so what more if we were to be presented before this holy God. The bible says that we will perish if God were to show Himself to us. His holiness has no room for sin and wickedness. But in His desire to be with us, and also in His astounding and great mercy, He sent His son Jesus to die for our sins so that we can be cleansed of our sins and stand justified before Him. Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst (1 Tim 1:15).

Nobody likes to be told that they are wrong. More still if it is something pertaining to something as personal as one's own faith. But what if, and just what if, what you're believing today is wrong. Do you know for sure? Is God real in your life? Do you have a reason for the hope that you have? Do you even have this hope?

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