Wednesday, January 11, 2017

The Unique Claims of Christianity (3: The Way)

We find the core of Christianity’s uniqueness in John 14:

“LET NOT YOUR HEARTS BE TROUBLED. BELIEVE IN GOD; BELIEVE ALSO IN ME. IN MY FATHER'S HOUSE ARE MANY ROOMS. IF IT WERE NOT SO, WOULD I HAVE TOLD YOU THAT I GO TO PREPARE A PLACE FOR YOU? AND IF I GO AND PREPARE A PLACE FOR YOU, I WILL COME AGAIN AND WILL TAKE YOU TO MYSELF, THAT WHERE I AM YOU MAY BE ALSO. AND YOU KNOW THE WAY TO WHERE I AM GOING.” THOMAS SAID TO HIM, “LORD, WE DO NOT KNOW WHERE YOU ARE GOING. HOW CAN WE KNOW THE WAY?” JESUS SAID TO HIM, “I AM THE WAY, AND THE TRUTH, AND THE LIFE. NO ONE COMES TO THE FATHER EXCEPT THROUGH ME. 

Jesus makes claims here that He is the only answer to our problem of sin and death. Let’s look at His three claims in reverse order:

The Way 

And in the first place, Jesus claims that He is the way. This is where Christianity is truly unique. Other religions claim to show us the path to God or immortality or enlightenment. Jesus does not. He did not say that He had shown us the way. He says that He IS the way.

Christianity does not look at our hopeless problem with sin and death and tell us the way to work our way out of the problem. Every other religion does this. Their teachings all claim to have a path that we must attempt to follow and that, hopefully, we will arrive at the correct destination. They are all inventions of a man or a woman who had not yet arrived at their destination. They are all the claims of people who have died trying.

Jesus did not do this. Yes, He came and lived the life as we were meant to live it. He had a true relationship with His Father, the Creator of the Universe. However, He never said that the solution to our problem was to imitate Him. He claimed that He was the way. We do not achieve salvation by being as good as Jesus. We are saved by trusting in Jesus.

The Bible tells us that Jesus has already reconnected creation and Creator. He did this by taking the punishment of sin and rebellion upon Himself even though He did not earn that punishment. He died for the sins of the world and then He rose again. He is not offering us a hope of a path, He is offering us immediate restoration; relationship with the Creator. And His teaching is not a collection of theories. His claims are of a done deal. And they are the claims of someone who has conquered death.

Pride: Christians are often accused of being proud in their beliefs. True followers of Jesus can never be proud in their relationship with God. Because the Gospel reminds us all of who we actually are. We are all terrible sinners deserving of death. It is only in the Grace and Love of God that we have been forgiven and restored. And God has that same love and grace for anyone who wants to have it.

True Christianity is unique in that those who follow it can never see themselves as better than anyone else. The most faithful of Christians are the ones who are most aware of their shortcomings and weaknesses. They are most aware of their need for a savior. And they are also the most aware that the “worst” in society are loved by God in the same way as the “best.” There is no room for pride in Christianity. In fact, it is considered the primary sin.

Conclusion:

So, Christianity is exclusive in its claims, but it can and should never be intolerant, arrogant, or prideful. If Christianity ever becomes any of those things it has ceased to be the Christianity that the Bible tells us about.

On the other hand, Christianity is unique amongst all the other systems and cultural means of solving our problem of sin and death.

It does not offer change produced by ethical standards, but rather ethical standards that result from a material change.

It does not propose a theory about the universe and life constructed within the system, but rather a reconnection with truth from the One who created the system.

It does not suggest a path back to God that we must attempt to traverse, but rather a restored relationship with the Creator who has made His way to us.

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