What Makes Christianity Unique From Other Religions?

The world’s religions have certain traits in common, but until the gospel of Jesus Christ burst upon the Mediterranean world, no one in the history of human imagination had conceived of such a thing as the worship of a crucified man.

—Fleming Rutledge, The Crucifixion, p. 1

A lot of people think that all religion is the same. There is nothing unique to any of it. It’s all just a melting pot of man-made ideas meant to get people to be nice to one another. But if you take one good look at Christianity though, you’ll begin to see that nothing can be further from the truth. Christianity is unique—very unique. It boasts of a crucified God. It proclaims a message that rejects self-help and self-improvement. It tells us that true leadership does not demand and take, but true leadership serves and gives.

Jesus Christ saves by dying and he rules by serving.

As Michael Horton writes:

What King is this who rules not by demanding the life of his subjects for the extension of his empire but by giving his own life for them? Very odd, isn’t it? To say that Jesus is Lord is to say that he is sovereign—in charge of everything in heaven and on earth. And yet it is to say so much more. He, not death, is Lord over us. He, not condemnation, has the last word over our destiny. He is Lord not only over Satan and his demonic minions in heavenly places, but over CEOs and dictators, popes and presidents, celebrities and tech gurus. And he is spreading his empire of grace to the ends of the earth, barely noticed by a world distracted by the trivial bells and whistles of this passing age.

—Michael Horton, Core Christianity, p. 137

Jesus redefines leadership. The greatest leaders are those who serve. The way to the top is to be a servant of everyone.

In a sense, Christianity is the end of religion and the beginning of something completely different. Something new. The gospel is so radically different from anything and everything religion is all about. Religion is about what I can do for God. The gospel is about what God has done for this God-forsaken world.

If you’re interested in hearing more about what makes Christianity so unique, we invite you to attend our Good Friday and Easter Sunday services. Our Good Friday service will begin at 6 pm and our Easter Sunday service at 10 am at EB Elementary School in Scripps Ranch.

——–
Some sermons to listen to while you wait for the weekend:

Every Day Is A Gift From God

In her recent book, Liturgy of the Ordinary, Tish Harrison Warren writes:

The psalmist declares, “is is the day that the Lord has made.” is one. We wake not to a vague or general mercy from a far-off God. God, in delight and wisdom, has made, named, and blessed this average day. What I in my weakness see as another monotonous day in a string of days, God has given as a singular gift.

When Jesus died for his people, he knew me by name in the particularity of this day. Christ didn’t redeem my life theoretically or abstractly—the life I dreamed of living or the life I think I ideally should be living. He knew I’d be in today as it is, in my home where it stands, in my relationships with their specific beauty and brokenness, in my particular sins and struggles.

Every day is a precious gift from God. Give thanks, for you are known and deeply loved!

Jesus reminds us in Luke 12:7, “Whyeven the hairs of your head are all numberedFear notyou are of more value than many sparrows.”

The thought of our hairs being numbered would be frightening if God were far off and pacing around heaven just waiting to rain down fire upon us. But the picture we get of God the Father through Jesus is very different from that scary idea.

God, in his might and power, is of course very frightening because he is holy and we are not. But in Jesus, we are known and truly loved by a God who stands not far off as our Judge but close to us as our loving Father.

He’s the Father who embraces prodigal sons who squandered dad’s wealth and wished he were dead. He’s the Father who loves us even while we are still sinners. He’s the Father who sent us Jesus Christ to hang on a cross.

In Christ, we have a loving Father who knows us by name and who gives us another day to live and move, to be loved and to love. Praise him. Thank him. You are loved by him.

Trying Hard to Be Good?

Jesus pretty much does all of the things you wouldn’t do if you were starting a religion. He picks a pathetic group of fisherman and unpopular people to be his disciples. And he goes around insulting political leaders and powerful people.

But you know what? This kind of stuff is what makes Christianity so incredibly believable! It’s so contrary to all of the fluff and buzz and glitter that we hear and see every day that it just might be true. It might be true because it rubs so hard against our lust for power and self-reliance to get to the top.

Confused by Jesus, the scribes and the Pharisees once asked why he eats with sinners and tax collectors. Jesus responded to them: “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners” (Mark 2).

Now when he says he’s not coming for the righteous, that doesn’t mean there are actually righteous people in the world who don’t need Jesus. They only think they’re righteous. You go to a doctor when you know you know you have health issues that are so bad you need treatment. You need the kind of treatment that goes beyond home remedies and everything you’ve tried out on your own.

A “righteous” person thinks he can “treat himself.” I can make myself better by being good or doing good. But the Bible’s diagnosis of all of us is that we are all sick. All of us need a physician. C.S. Lewis once said, “No one knows how bad he is until he has tried very hard to be good.” Yup. It’s when I’m trying very hard to be a good person that I know I’m not. I just don’t make the cut every time. That’s when I start to know I’m bad.

—Pastor Nick

To learn more, listen to the full-length sermon here: The Light We Cannot See

A New Kind of Love

Join us this Sunday at 10 am in Scripps Ranch to hear about a new kind of love from John 13:31-38. It’s a love that changes everything. See you soon!