“Why are you Christians always sending missionaries overseas? People have their own culture, their own religion, why don’t you just leave them alone?!” This is one of the most common statements we hear as we lecture on college and university campuses throughout the United States and around the world. Students and faculty often jeeringly ask us, “What is so special about Christianity, different from every religion in the world?” To be sure, this is a very significant question; and probably one of the most significant questions that any Christian could ask themselves: what is so special about Jesus Christ?
Our family has a close friend named Lou. Lou grew up in the nation of Thailand and he was a Buddhist for the first 20 years of his life until he met some Christian missionaries who introduced him to Jesus Christ. If you were to ask Lou today, “What is so special about Jesus Christ and Christianity different from every other religion in the world?” Lou would share with you the following story:
“When I was a Buddhist I felt like I was in the middle of a large lake. I was drowning and I didn’t know how to swim. As I struggled to keep my head above water, I looked out towards the shore and saw Buddha walking up to the edge of the lake. I was going under for the third time, when suddenly Buddha began shouting out instructions to me, teaching me how to swim. Buddha shouted, ‘Kick your legs and paddle your arms.’ But then Buddha said, ‘Lou, you must make it to shore by yourself.’ As I desperately struggled to follow the instructions of Buddha, I looked out towards the shore again, but this time I saw Jesus Christ walking towards the edge of the lake. However, Jesus did not stop at the edge of the lake. Jesus dove into the lake and he swam out and rescued me! And once Jesus had brought me safely back to shore, then he taught me how to swim, so that I could go back and rescue others!”
You see, this is the key difference between Christianity and every other religion in the world: Christianity is not a religion! What are religions? Religions are about human attempts to make our lives right with God, through our good works, sacrifices, rituals, and money. However, Christianity is not a religion. Christianity is about God entering human history to graciously save men and women through His Son Jesus Christ. It is only by placing our faith in Jesus Christ and submitting to his Lordship that we will be saved.
A relationship with God will never be found in any religion, because religions only offer swimming lessons to people drowning in the sea of sin. And it doesn’t matter how sincere or devout you are in your religious faith and practice, because the sea of sin is eternally immense. The only hope for men and women drowning in the sea of sin is Jesus Christ. God entered human history in the person of Jesus Christ; he dove into the sea of sin in order to save desperate and drowning people. If you’ll allow him to take you there, he’ll hold you in his loving arms and bring you safely to shore. And after arriving safely to shore, then your swimming lessons begin, so that you can go back and rescue others!
By Jason Carlson and Dr. Ron Carlson of CMI
Christian Ministries International is an organization that seeks to equip the church in response to the challenges of the world’s religions, cults, and various apologetic issues.