What Christianity Offers that World Religions Don't - Radical
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What Christianity Offers that World Religions Don’t

Standing behind a row of worshipers in Kolkata, I saw the blackened figure of Kali. Around the idol’s neck lay a garland of skulls. Hanging from her earlobes were earrings draped with dead infants. Her dead eyes stared transfixed and her lolling red tongue revealed her vicious appetite for destruction and blood. At her feet, a man laid the severed head of a goat which was decapitated for ritual sacrifice. As people squeezed into the narrow passageway in front of the idol, their moans and prayers created a cacophony of desperation, but Kali was unable to answer.

Reaching Up in Vain

Almost every major world religion shares a similar story. The details are different, but each tells a tale of human beings attempting to reach up to the divine for purpose, blessing, and hope. Hindus yearn for the gods and goddesses’ blessing, so they offer daily sacrifice at their preferred shrine. Jains aim at perfection through non-violence, but no matter how diligent, negative karma floods their lives like water rushing in a boat with a cracked hull. Sikhs worship the one divine light, but their acceptance is based upon their dedication to a specific code of conduct and diet; however, moral effort cannot heal the corruption of a soul.

Islam teaches that people must submit to Allah and perform five religious acts in order to please him, but even then, there is no guarantee of salvation. Buddhists renounce desire thinking they will eliminate personal suffering. They live within rigid guidelines hoping to achieve divinity or nirvana. Orthodox Jews wait for messiah. They perform, as much as possible, the religious requirements of the law in hopes of gaining God’s favor.

In all of these religions, there is a consistent theme. Human beings reach up to God (or the divine) hoping to find purpose, blessing, and hope for a better future. And so worshippers modify their behavior to comply with the demands of the gods. They give offerings to build temples for gods who cannot see, speak, or hear. While they attempt to gain favor from the gods, they do not understand that these gods can never give them what they desperately need— forgiveness and love.

The Beautiful Truth of the Gospel

When compared with the religions of the world, Christianity offers something incredibly different. The gospel tells a story of a God who created the world. It tells of rebellious people and a patient Deliverer. Also, it tells of a divine King who gave his life as a ransom for the cursed. It tells a story of the King’s return and promised restoration of the universe.

As human beings, we cannot reverse the corruption that is embedded into the fabric of our nature. Sin has erected an impassible barrier between humanity and the one true God, as noted by the prophet Isaiah: “[Our] iniquities have made a separation between [us] and [our] God” (Isaiah 59:2). No matter how determined we are to scale the mountain toward the divine, we cannot. Our reach is not far enough. One might as easily reach out and touch a star as he would reach out and touch God through human effort.

Here lies the beautiful truth of the gospel of Jesus. When we could not reach up to God, he chose to reach down to us. The apostle Paul said, “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom 5:8). God, the Father, sent his Son into the world as a “sacrifice for sins,” (Her 10:12) even as a lamb “who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29). Because of this sacrifice, God has “raised us up with [Jesus] and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Eph 2:6).

At the Kali temple, the coppery taste of blood in the air would never help the people standing in front of me. They needed a sacrifice, but not of bulls or goats. They needed a lamb. And it is for that reason that Jesus came.

For more on how Christianity is different from the religions of the world, see Secret Church 16, “A Global Gospel in a World of Religions.”

Luke Bray is the Director of Strategic Partnerships with Passages Israel, a leadership organization investing in the next generation of Christian leaders. Luke oversees all institutional and organizational partnerships with Passages. Prior to assuming this role, Luke and his wife, Kim, served at Jeffersontown Baptist Church in Louisville, Kentucky, where Luke was the Senior Pastor. He also taught as an adjunct instructor of Global Studies at Boyce College. Luke earned a Masters of Divinity with a concentration in Islamic Studies and he is currently a ThM (Christian Missions) and PhD (World Religions) candidate at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Luke served with the United States Army in the Iraq War and his experience gave him a passion for the Middle East and its people. Luke and Kim have five children and live in Plainfield, Illinois.


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