Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Is Jesus Intolerant?

I heard it put recently that if you take all the world religions and put them in one box and then put Christianity in a separate box, we'll see the one major difference between them. In your mind, put Hinduism, Islam, Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormonism, Seventh Day Adventism, and any other religion into one box and then Christianity into the other one. Got your boxes filled? Okay, let's go:

Box #1: This box contains all religions except Christianity. They all say you have to do good to go to Heaven (or Paradise or to get your own world). Like what? Well, like do nice things for people, have a good attitude, read religious material, knock on doors to tell people about your religion, etc. These are pretty good things to do, actually. I mean, if you really believe there's going to be judgment after death, what more loving thing can you do than knock on someone's door to tell them how to get out of that deal? But if earning brownie points for doing good deeds (or the other side of the coin: not doing bad deeds) is the way to go, how can we know how many brownie points we need to earn in order to be right with God?

Mormons at my door say I have to have faith and also do the best I can and then when I die, I will go to one of the three heavens and become a god (well, only the men get to be gods; women get to be their servants for eternity).

Jehovah's Witnesses have knocked on my door and basically the result is that if I read the Watchtower's material, obey Jehovah, don't have a blood transfusion, don't talk to apostates (and much, much more!), I may get to be on the new earth, but if I'm not one of their 144,000, then I won't be with God.

With Islam, the Muslims have told me that if I do more good than bad, then I will enter Paradise, but it's up to Allah in the end anyway. So I can work all my life to try to please him, but I may end up in Hell anyway. And, if I were a male Muslim who did get to go to Paradise, then I could inherit 72 virgins! But again, I'm not a man, so I don't get the benefits of this.

There's quite a pattern in Box #1. All include a list of do's and dont's and none has to do with forgiveness. Okay, let's look into Box #2.

Box #2: In this box contains one thing: Christianity. It says we have all been bad and no matter how much good we do, we can't please a holy, perfect God. Not even if I do more good than bad? No. In fact, Jesus Christ even goes so far as to say, "be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect." (Matthew 5:48) Whoa! Let me do a mental checklist:

Have I always obeyed my parents? No. Ask my mom!
Have I always cared for people? Nope.
Have I always put God first in my life? No.
Have I kept my mouth from evil (gossipping, cuss words, etc.)? No.
Have I had pure thoughts all my life? Yeah right!
Have I always been sexually pure? No.

Alright, we've proven I'm not perfect, so according to Jesus, I'm not fit for Heaven. Yeah, so if the word "gospel" means "good news," I'm not smiling! Should I just toss the Bible then and go back to Box #1 since I've already blown it? No, I need to look at the claims of Jesus Christ first and his offer for imperfect people like me.

He goes onto say, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." (John 14:6) A little intolerant sounding! And so it is. Jesus will tolerate no man made religion that says we need to better ourselves to be with God when we die. He says he is the only way to get to God. He says no one is good and that we need forgiveness. Ah! That's the missing key that is not in Box #1. In that box, good works is the way; in this box, Jesus Christ is the way. Good works vs. forgiveness. Can you imagine telling your kid who spills milk on the carpet, "son, you must pay for that by doing something good for me!" No! You offer forgiveness, not tell him to work it off in order to be right with you.

Talk to anyone in those other religions and you'll find you have to work your way up to God by doing a list of things that hopefully will please him. But what about forgiveness? No. It's not available in those religions. Only Jesus Christ can offer forgiveness of sin. That's what happened on the cross. Paul wrote a letter in the first century and said, "We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." (2 Corinthians 5:20-21) In other words, Jesus Christ who never sinned (knew no sin) took on sin on the cross where he was punished in place of sinners in order that we might be reconciled to God. Spilled milk can be forgiven if we agree with God that we have done wrong and turn to him for forgiveness. For "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us." (1 John 1:9-10) Jesus says to repent and believe the gospel, not repent, believe the gospel and do a laundry list of things to be reconciled to God. Quite a difference in the two boxes.

There is a third box. It's called Atheism. In other words, the person who is an atheist knows there is no God. Quite a claim to know there is no God, actually! It's still religion in that they have a set of beliefs and since atheists have minds and use their minds to form beliefs, they are in fact, religious, just not the "submit to my Creator" kind of religious. There's a great video of one of the leading atheists in the world who does what he can to rid the planet of the myth of God; he was interviewed about his beliefs in this 6-minute clip where he talks about a designer. Click here to see it.

Christianity is a relationship with the Creator. It's not a list of do's and dont's, but the story of a holy God looking down on his rebellious creation and instead of turning away from them, he stretched out his arms on a cross and said, "I love you" with his blood. Trust him for forgiveness or go on thinking you're good enough without him. There are no other options.

You can read more about the religions of Box #1 here.
And more about Christianity here.

- Tamara Slack


Anonymous said...

It is good to know that you are still caring for so many others. Also good to see your mug on your blogspot. God bless you in your efforts to offer the free gift of the gospel to any who are wise enough to accept it. Love ya,