One of the things I hear quite often is that Christians tend to be exclusive and “narrow-minded” when it comes to what others may believe. “After all,” it is said, “All roads lead to God.” Or: “There are so many good things, and good people, in other religions – why be so demanding about believing your way?”
This sentiment isn’t just from religious people… it also includes non-religious people, who say things like: “we are truly moral, because we do what is right just because it is right – and not because we are looking to gain some reward, or avoid some punishment from some god.”
So how do we respond to those who say all religions are “good” – and to those who pose the question: why is God even necessary for good morals?
Just this way… First, we need to understand two very essential things. One is that all religions do NOT lead us to God. The reason for this is because religion is man’s ideas of how to get to God. “Take this path. Do this thing. Talk this way. Pray these prayers. Perform these rituals.” All religion, at it’s core, is based upon human effort to get us to God (or to get God to like us).
Christianity is not a religion (although it CAN be made into one). At the heart of true Christianity, is God’s efforts to bring us to Himself. It is never what we DO that merits God’s favor or attention – it is accepting what God has done for us that brings us into relationship with Him. At it’s core, Christianity is a relationship with God – based upon a mutual love and proper respect.
This brings us to the other thing we need to understand. God alone is good. Even when Jesus was called “good,” he deflected our attention to its proper place: “No one is good, except God alone.” (Mark 10:18; Luke 18:19)* Religion does not make us good people – it makes us people who think our efforts at goodness make us like God (or make us pleasing to God). God has a term for our efforts at righteousness… “filthy rags.” NOT the robes of gleaming righteousness that we think we are wearing.
Christians are not people who are trying to be good. We are people who have attached ourselves, by faith, to the One Who is good. This connection allows HIM to inhabit us – bringing His goodness, and His good works, into this world, through us. Do you see the difference? Good works ARE God works. And the only way that good is produced through us, is by the One Who is good.
“Well, that is fine,” you might say. “But what about all the good things (unselfish, helpful things) that people of all faiths (and even non-faith) do for others, all over the world? What do we make of that?”
For me, it is profoundly simple. And we have been talking about it over the past several days. It is the God imprint, at work, in every human being. God put the imprint of Himself within each of us – which draws us to the things that resonate from His divine character. Things like loving, helping, giving, doing right by other people. All these things are the core values of God – and He has placed them at our very core.
The real key is understanding why they are there in the first place. They are not there just to get us to live moral lives. They are there to compel us to search out and connect with the One Who put them there.
They are “home” calling us from our tireless wandering – to the place where all those inner virtues find their ultimate expression and meaning…
Prayer focus: God, help me to see the infinite value of living in You – and having You live through me.
* People have used this statement to denounce the deity of Jesus. They say, “See, even Jesus doesn’t want to claim to be God.” But that is not what Jesus is saying. He is simply saying, “Think about what YOU are saying… if you are calling Me good, you are calling Me God.” Jesus WAS good. Therefore: Jesus WAS God. This is no denial, but an affirmation.