Do you ever stop to think how different Christianity is from every other faith out there? It’s really interesting, actually. Maybe I should clairfy what I mean when I say “Christianity,” though, because a lot of times people don’t actually know what it is.
Christianity isn’t a religion. When I talk about Christianity in this post, I’m talking about the faith explained in the Bible. I’m not adding anything to it. I’m not taking anything away from it. Biblical Christianity is different than any other religious system in the world. And if you don’t believe me, just study them.
I’m not a world religion expert by any means so I’m not going to launch into an explanation of every one of them, because for every religious leader in the world you’ll find a different religion — even if they supposedly belong to the same type of faith system.
But what I’ve experienced or studied about other religions usually is something like this:
- There’s a God but He’s distant and doesn’t care about us.
- Or there’s no God, no heaven, no hell and everything ends when we die.
- Or there is a God and He has a plan but we have to cower before Him and sacrifice (our lives, children’s lives, unbelievers’ lives) to please Him.
- There is no God. Just nature. And we live the best we can and die and come back again to try once more until we reach perfection.
- Or God exists and Jesus was a prophet who did a lot of good things, and we have to do good things too to get to heaven.
- Or God just loves everyone so much that He can’t stand to be separated from anyone, so everybody goes to heaven.
- Or (here’s the real kicker) God exists, Jesus is His Son, the Bible is true but you must follow church ritual and tradition to be saved.
I know there are a lot more. But it seems to me that these sum up the vast majority of religious systems out there. None of them are biblical. Some come close, but if you add or subtract anything away from Scripture, it’s no longer viable. This is biblical Christianity:
23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.
We’re not perfect. Our world is fallen, and our spirits are evil, separated from God through our rebellion. And although I have spoken to a number of people who think God is unfair for letting the whole human race take the blame for Adam and Even’s mistake, I don’t think anyone else would have done better. We’ve all fallen. We’ve all sinned. We’ve all let our pride get in the way of our relationship with God. And that’s no different than what Adam and Eve did. They were our best shot, and they blew it. But that wasn’t the end of the story.
We sin. We die. BUT. God gives us eternal life. And it’s free.
Free means free. You don’t have to pay for it. How could you? What do you own? What do you possess that God hasn’t given to you? How can you have anything worth trading for eternal life?
But it’s not just free — it’s a FREE gift.
Gifts are supposed to be free. Gifts don’t have strings attached. If someone gives you a gift and expects you to pay for it, it’s not a gift; it’s a joke.
But the other thing about a gift is that you have to accept it. Anybody can give you a gift, but it doesn’t do you any good until you take it. It would be like someone giving me an Amazon Gift Card (yay, Kindle!) and me leaving it sit. What’s the point of that? That’s books someone’s given me, and I just leave it sitting on a table or under a Christmas tree? Why would I do that? Is it going to add itself to my account sitting there? Is it going to pay for the books I want just sitting there? No. It doesn’t do a thing until I take it, claim it, and use it.
The most important part of this verse, though, is how we are given this free gift of eternal life. Through Jesus Christ.
Jesus paid the price for our gift. He’s the one who offers it to us freely. He could charge us if He wanted to. He could demand that we reach a certain standard in our lives before we are worthy to accept His gift, but then it wouldn’t be free. And He could expect us to pay Him back after we accept His gift, but then it wouldn’t be a gift.
Don’t you see how different this kind of faith is?
God loves us but He’s perfect, and we’re not. So the only way to make us perfect so we can talk to Him was to send Jesus to pay for our sins with His death, so He could offer us the opportunity to have a relationship with God and with Him (and with the Holy Spirit, but it’s way too early in the a.m. for pheumatology). Everyone can believe it. There’s nothing we can do to earn it. There’s nothing we can do to lose it. And the only requirement of us is to accept it.
I don’t know about you, but I think that’s pretty cool.