by Dr. Joe McKeever
First Baptist Church, Kenner, Louisiana
First, a national leader stirred up a firestorm when he said that in one religion, fathers give their sons to die for their god, whereas in Christianity God gave His Son to die for us. About the time that furor died down, a pastor rekindled it by asserting that Christianity is better because the founder of that other religion married umpteen times—including once to a child—and called him a demon-possessed pedophiliac.
The public response to these comments is getting to be rather predictable. Depending on the notoriety of the speaker and the visibility of his platform, the media cries foul, the guardians of political correctness cry bigotry, and a presidential spokesperson assures the nation that, yes, the president is aghast and he does indeed distance himself from such remarks.
My own opinion is that we who follow the Lord Jesus would do well to reconsider what we’re trying to accomplish here. Do we want to ‘best’ the other fellow or to win him?
If you want to enrage a member of another religion—any religion—just tell him all the reasons why your faith is better than his. Forget about converting the guy; you’ll be lucky to escape with your head.
Jim and Darlene are long-time family friends who live in Asheville, North Carolina. Recently, they joined a group which toured several Mediterranean countries. Inside the Topkapi Palace in Istanbul, the entourage found a Muslim museum where a glass case in the middle of a room was attracting a lot of attention. Inside was a box containing hair from Muhammad’s head, a footprint from his sandal, and a tooth from his mouth.
A long string of tourists and Muslim faithful filed past the glass case, staring at the relics, while listening to a young Mullah who sat in a tiny booth nearby, singing verses from the Quran. It was a most solemn occasion.
Back on the bus, the Americans described what they had seen to their Muslim tour guide. When they finished, he said, “Is there anywhere that you can go and see a lock of hair from your Jesus?” A medical doctor from Arkansas spoke up. “Oh, that’s the best part of the story. You see, He’s still alive and his hair is still on his head!”
It’s not that our system is better than theirs. Religious systems are made up of people and therefore prone to excess and abscess. No church member that I’m acquainted with is willing to defend Christianity for its sins of the past—the Crusades, the Inquisition, the condoning of slavery, the rationalizing of Jim Crow. We’d like to pretend this part of our history does not exist. Thankfully, we have not been sent into the world to preach the virtues of Christianity. We are sent to proclaim Jesus.
Jesus Christ was born of a Jewish virgin in a small town outside Jerusalem, in fulfillment of prophecies covering a thousand years. He lived a sinless life and died a sacrificial death on a Roman cross. On the third day, He rose from the dead and has been alive ever since. In the minds of those of us who are His followers, this makes Jesus light-years above and beyond all other religious leaders and founders and gurus and experts.
This is not about Christianity; it’s all about Jesus as revealed in the only historical record extant, the Bible.
The New Testament epistle called “Hebrews” was written to Jewish believers to establish once and for all that Jesus Christ is superior to everything they left behind. In 13 chapters, the writer establishes that He is superior to prophets, angels, Moses, Joshua, the priesthood, the high priest, Melchizedek, the sacrifices, the old covenant, and the Law.
There is no one else like Jesus on this planet and there never has been. He is not one of many great religious personages from whom we may select a Savior and Lord. He is the only one who qualifies. He has no peer.
In the opening scene of the book of Revelation, Jesus introduces Himself to the elderly apostle John. “I am the first and the last and the Living One. I was dead and behold, I am alive forevermore. I have the keys of death and Hades.”
All the religions of the world—the great ones and the ignoble ones—at their best represent man’s attempts to span the gulf between us and God. Jesus Christ is God’s bridge from Heaven to earth. He Himself said He is the only way to the Father and no one would get there by another route.
No one who is lost believes that all roads lead home, that it does not matter which route he takes. He looks for “the” way and searches for a sign or a map or a friend who can give direction.
What we are saying is that Jesus Christ is The Way. That He is the only way. If all those other man-built bridges would get us to Heaven, God sure went to a lot of needless trouble in sending Jesus to die for us. The simple fact is there was no other way to God.
The old billboards we used to see alongside the highways had it right: “Christ is the Answer.” Not Christianity, but Christ.
©2002 Joe McKeever. Used by permission of the author.
2ProphetU is an online magazine/website, started by Warren Wiersbe and Michael Catt, to build up the church, seek revival, and encourage pastors.