Is Christianity any different from other religions?
There are certainly quite a few similarities across many of the world religions. Many of the values that I believe are core to Christianity and the teachings of Jesus, such as love and justice, are also advocated by other faith groups. So is there anything that makes Christianity unique?
If I were to list one thing that I think differentiates Christianity from other religions, I would focus on the concept of grace. Grace is unmerited favor and kindness from God, even if we don’t deserve it.
Most world religions involve a moral system that a person can follow in order to become acceptable to God. If you do certain things, or follow certain rules, or work hard enough, or don’t do too much bad stuff… then God will think you are okay.
Christianity, at its core, teaches the opposite. God loves us and thinks we are okay, even if we don’t deserve it. Even if we mess up and aren’t perfect. Even if we don’t get better ‘fast enough.’ In fact, mistakes are expected and viewed as part of the deal.
Here is one of my favorite passages about grace. It shows up in Paul’s letter to the church in Rome.
Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand (Rom 5:1-2).
It’s a hard truth to really own in your heart. That no matter what you have done (or continue to do), or what mistakes you have made (or continue to make), you are justified (made right) by faith, and you can have peace with God. I used to have a terrible time with this truth, and sometimes I struggle with it even now. It’s tough for me to be okay with myself, and believe that God is okay with me also.
But I think if we could understand and believe this truth about grace and how God views us, we would get a deep sense of peace that is often difficult to find in this world.
Discussion: What do you think (if anything) differentiates Christianity from other religious perspectives?