“On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ [ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” Matthew 9: 12-13
That was Jesus’s response to the question about why he was eating with sinners. It’s easy to get into debates about what the Bible says about this or that and we forget that it’s not a book of philosophy or merely rules. It’s our introduction to God, and Jesus. Those pages show what Christianity is about, a person, Jesus. We just have to find a way to introduce him to those around us.
To be able to do that, we have to see how willing we are to introduce Him to our friends, acquaintances, coworkers, and family. It’s going to take some hard questions that we’ll have to ask ourselves. Starting with…
Does the world need Jesus?
He is the center of Christianity. We believe what Jesus said in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” He bore our punishment as God unleashed His wrath on His Son in our place. Then He rose again three days later. Take Him away and our faith is the same as the other religions, man reaching for God.
Take away all our traditions, the music, the sermons, and you’ll find the risen Christ at the core. Christianity is the only religion where God reached for man. He is our non-negotiable; you cannot be a Christian without Christ.
Ask yourself this as you look around, what IS the eternal fate of those around you? Any one of your family, friends, classmates, or coworkers? Are we really convinced? How would we know? Is our faith actually reasonable or is it superstition? We have to look at some critical issues, because if we find them to be true, then we can trust the rest as well. If not, then Paul said it best in 1 Corinthians 15:17-19:
“And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.”
Why is it hard for people to believe that Jesus is the only way?
It is partly because of pluralism-where people think that no religion has absolute truth, they all lead to God. How do we respond to that? With love, we relate to them patiently, kindly, and gently. Remember the verse we started with? They’re sick, and we can’t verbally abuse a sick person. We also cannot be afraid to tell them who has the cure. There is no cure for the cancer that is sin other than Christ.
Now it can get awkward, you’re talking to a friend, and they challenge you with the following statements:
- “It doesn’t matter what you believe as long as you’re sincere.”
- “As long as it works for you and makes you happy.”
- “There is no such thing as an absolute truth.”
- “I believe there are many ways to God.”
- “It’s rude to say one person’s religion is better than another’s.”
- “It takes everyone’s truth to equal the truth.”
- “What makes you think your religion is right, and everyone else’s is wrong.”
Any of these sound familiar? Historically, our faith has been summed up in creeds. 1 Corinthians 15: 1-8 is an example of a creed.
“Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.
For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.”
The Importance of Creeds
They direct our beliefs and influence our actions. Every one of them proclaims Jesus as the only way. These aren’t new questions, though. Christianity grew in the Roman Empire where they had an altar to an unknown god just in case they missed one. Paul based a sermon on that in Acts 17: 16-34, it was a great example of bridge building. In the 2000+ years since the birth of Christianity, the church hasn’t budged on Jesus’s divinity.
The idea of many gods predates the Roman Empire. In the Old Testament, the Jews started worshiping the gods of other cultures in the temple of God. That didn’t make God happy and the Jews had the Promised Land taken from them for a time. Was that harsh? No, by his nature, God has no equal; if He did then He wouldn’t be God.
We have God in three persons, the Father, the Son (Jesus), and the Holy Spirit, and many apologists have made the case for Christianity. My recommended places to start are Cold Case Christianity and The Case for Christ. Logically, this means other religions are false. They’re either products of imagination, or manifestations of demonic entities-fallen angels masquerading as gods to deceive.
Do the logic: God is God, or He isn’t. If He isn’t then it’s a matter of personal preference. If He is, then He wants a relationship with us, we are made for Him. The incompleteness, the search for…something to fulfill you, that’s us recognizing we need Him to complete us. Jesus is how that happens; He bridged that gap.
We’re not talking about which sport’s team is better or the best restaurant in the area; these aren’t life changing. The God of the Universe is and does. Noted author C.S. Lewis said it best:
“Christianity, if false, is of no importance, and if true, of infinite importance. The only thing it cannot be is moderately important.”
If you want the words straight from The Fi5th Gospel go here to http://thefi5thgospel.com/. This is just what I took as a reader and ran with it.