I had just settled into my aisle seat on the first leg of our flight home from Nuremberg, Germany last week when a young woman indicated she had the window seat. When I stood to allow her access, her younger brother joined her sitting in the center. They immediately initiated a delightful conversation. I found Alex. 22, and Jake, 20, to be remarkably friendly and intelligent young adults. They had been touring Europe with their family and were returning home to Detroit where their father practiced medicine.
Halfway to Amsterdam I asked both of them if church and faith was important to their family. They told me they were Jewish, had attended religion classes, but did not enjoy it much, and, while they liked the sound of the Hebrew language, did not understand what was being said. I told them that I have a deep appreciation for the Jewish people without whom we would have little knowledge of the nature and character of God. I went on to explain that I am a Christian and that I have become convinced that everything that is best and beautiful in Judaism is fulfilled in Jesus.
They then talked about some of their Christian friends they have known who go to church every week and Jake concluded by saying, basically all religions are the same. They all basically teach kindness and goodness. It doesn’t really matter what you believe.
I did not try to correct Jake or enter into an argument about his point, but the comment continued to bother me. I have heard this statement many times before, usually from people who have little religious knowledge or experience. It is a way of sidestepping any serious discussion about religion. But the fact of the matter is that religions of the world are not the same. In fact, they are vastly different.
Most who assume that all religions are basically the same, also assume that all religions teach the Ten Commandments. But the first commandment clearly states, “You shall have no other gods before me.” The second states, “You shall not make for yourself any idol.” Right up front, the Commandments let us know that religions are not all alike and that the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is unique.
No other faith claims what the Christian faith boldly asserts, that the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob visited us in the person of His Son, Jesus who lived a perfect, sinless life, and, after willingly laying down His life as a sacrifice for sins was raised from the dead. Jesus’ claims are astounding, “He that has seen me has seen the Father.” “I and the Father are one.” “He that lives and believes in me shall never die.”
The Scripture plainly teaches that God “rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.” (Colossian 1:13-15).