An estimated 1.1 billion people (worldwide) are Hindus (mostly living in India).
One of the oldest religions, Hinduism is led by men called gurus (teachers) who alone are able to provide insight into the Hindu scriptures, to its followers. Central to Hindu faith are two main ideas: 1) reincarnation (birth and rebirth or samsara) and the need to be liberated (moksha) from its endless cycle; and 2) karma = the effects of one’s words and actions which precipitates reincarnation (what one will be [and how much one will suffer] in the next incarnation of life). Liberation can only come when an individual expands his being and consciousness (to an infinite level) and realizes that the self is the same as the absolute being from which all else proceeds (i.e. when one realizes that he/she IS god!).
Moksha (liberation) may occur in one of three ways… 1) salvation by knowledge of the ancient writings and inward meditation; 2) salvation by devotion to one of the many Hindu deities; or 3) salvation by works (ceremonies, sacrifices, fasting, or pilgrimages – all without any thought of their rewards). Each of these methods will include an emphasis on Yoga (Raja)… a meditation technique involving control over the body, breathing, and thoughts.
Jesus or the Hindu gurus?
Worldview. The claim of self-godhood is at the heart of Hindu thought. It is the goal of every devoted follower to come to the realization that we ourselves are divine. In contrast, Jesus came as God, with us… and His work on behalf of all humanity was to grant us the opportunity to be restored back to a relationship with God. Jesus never taught we would become gods – but that we could become God’s. The foundation of Hindu faith is pantheistic (there are many gods) in character and practice. Jesus came to put us in right relationship with the ONE true God.
Karma vs. Love. Classic Hinduism insists that those who are suffering must be left to suffer because that is their deserved destiny, as determined by karma. Central to Jesus’ teachings is to “Love your neighbor as yourself” – that the very expression of faith must be to demonstrate love in every situation encountered. Jesus went around eliminating the suffering of those he met (and left that practice as a model for His followers) – Hinduism resists that thought and practice.
Enlightenment. With Hinduism, enlightenment can only come through the gurus. With Jesus, enlightenment comes through a relationship with Jesus (and with God’s Holy Spirit) and by reading, and meditating on, the Bible. Hindu meditation is a process of emptying the mind. Christian meditation is a practice of filling the mind with the truths and principles of God as revealed and discovered in the Scriptures.
Salvation. Hindus are trapped in the karmic cycle of reincarnation until they reach moksha – which each person must work out on their own. Jesus has removed the need for human work and effort – because Jesus has done ALL the work necessary to bring us into the fullness of relationship with God. Salvation is the gift of God, guaranteed because of the work of our Savior.
Over 1 billion people are caught in the trap of an endless cycle of human effort and suffering that is Hinduism. Jesus has come and removed the need for all this human effort and suffering, by doing all the work necessary… and by taking all suffering upon Himself and suffering in our place.