By Jason Carlson
“Mr. Carlson, tell me something, why are you Christians always sending missionaries around the world? Why don’t you just leave people alone? Other countries have their own cultures, their own religions, they’re happy with what they’ve got. Why don’t you just let people be?” This was the question that a young man in a large, non-Christian university asked me recently after I had finished a lecture on world religions.
Have you ever thought about this question? It’s a very interesting question for Christians to consider and probably one of the most important questions we could ask ourselves. What is so special about Jesus Christ and Christianity that we feel compelled to carry this message to the ends of the earth?
The answer to this question is found in the very nature of what Christianity truly is. Many people in our world today, even some Christians, have embraced the false idea that Christianity is just another religion in a world full of religious options. However, nothing could be further from the truth.
What makes Christianity unique? Christianity is unique amongst all of the religions of the world because Christianity is truly not a religion!
What are religions? Religions are 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; and it is only by placing our faith in him and his saving work on the cross that we might be saved. Christianity is not about what we do as human beings in order to please God, but rather, it’s about what God has done for us so that we could have a relationship with him.
Jesus’ disciple John tells us in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” Christianity, different from every other religion in the world, offers salvation that is based not on human merit, but on a free gift from our Creator, God. This is what makes Christianity unique. As the apostle Paul explains in Ephesians 2:8-9, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith- and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God- not by works, so that no one can boast.” In his great love for us God has offered the world a gift, a relationship with him through his Son, Jesus Christ. We cannot earn it, we cannot buy it; it’s free, it’s a gift.
Why do Christians send missionaries around the world? Why do we feel compelled to evangelize and contend for our faith? It’s because God has given the world a gift. We call it the gospel. The word “gospel” literally means “good news”. And for a world caught up in false, man-made religious systems of works and rituals, the gift of Jesus Christ is not only unique, but it’s very good news.