For by grace you have been saved through faith - and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God. Ephesians 2:8
The other day I handed out my business card. I was at the airport and sitting behind me I overheard two college students talking about religion. The common consensus was that all religions, with some very minor differences, are basically the same. With some degree of fervor, they agreed that every religion had the same deity and all believers were going to end up in the same place.
Finally, when I could stand it no more, I interrupted. "Excuse me, my name is Ken Klaus, I am a Lutheran pastor. I apologize, but I couldn’t help overhearing your opinions about religion. You have a fascinating position on things, but I don’t think you’ve got the whole story. There isn’t a Christian, Muslim, Hindu, or Buddhist who would agree with you. Each of us knows there are major differences in what we believe."
I continued, "Personally, I believe Christianity is unique because of a Savior who has substituted Himself so I can be saved. I realize that other religions believe they are distinctive, but Christianity really is one-of-a-kind."
Then, because the plane was boarding, I had to end with, “If you’d like to talk about those differences and why Jesus is special, here is my card. I’d love to visit with you at length.” They took the card, and who knows, maybe the Holy Spirit will have them call me.
I pray they will, because they need to know that all religions are definitely not the same. Let me give a short example. Last week, many of the citizens of Sydney, Australia became upset with a Muslim cleric who urged children to be martyrs for Islam. According to Sydney’s Daily Telegraph, the leader said, “Put in their soft, tender hearts the zeal of jihad and a love of martyrdom.” I don’t know any Christian pastor, no matter what denomination he represents, who would make a similar statement.
Nor do I know any Christian who would agree with the Ramadan message of the Imam of Australia’s biggest mosque who said, “Unveiled women were like uncovered meat.”
Are there differences in religion? Yes. For example, while Islam and all other religions say its adherents must work their way up to god; only Christianity says God has come down to us. While all other religions says each of us must pay for our sins, Christianity stands alone in preaching that Jesus has, with His life, suffering, death, and resurrection, paid the price for our forgiveness. While Islam and all other religions say heaven must be earned, Christianity says eternal life is a gift, which comes from a gracious God.
I could go on and on and on another day, and I probably will. But for now, please join me in prayer.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord and Savior, Jesus, I give thanks that it is through Your suffering and death, and not through anything that I can do, that heaven has been given to me. Today I ask that You will call to faith those who through ignorance or unbelief deny the sacrifice that You have made. In Your Name. Amen.
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