I was thirteen years old when a friend invited me to her youth group. It was there I first learned the difference between religion and relationship in describing Christianity.
That was also the year I read Fritz Ridenour’s book, How to be a Christian without Being Religious. The youth group, combined with Ridenour’s book, challenged my view of Christianity.
Being religious isn’t the only thing confused with becoming a follower of Jesus Christ. Today, spirituality is often used as a synonym for Christianity.
After 9/11, it became popular to be spiritual. But spirituality is not the same as being a Christian. In the past ten years, books such as A New Earth, A Course in Miracles, and The Secret sought to take bits and pieces of biblical Christianity and merge them with other belief systems. But these books, and others like them, quote Scripture without believing it. Phrases are taken out of context while denying the Bible accurately reveals the character of God as well as our relationship to Him and our place in the universe.
Teachings such as “the universe meets all my needs immediately” (Rhonda Byrne), or spirituality “has nothing to do with what you believe” (Eckhart Tolle) seek to draw us to a new religion leading away from a personal God who can be known through His Word, through His Son, and through His Spirit.
The buzzword of today’s culture is tolerance. We’re told it’s intolerant to believe Christianity is right and all other religions are wrong, that it’s narrow-minded to believe there is only one way to God. Celebrities become spiritual leaders by virtue of their fame. When Oprah Winfrey said, “I am a Christian who believes that there are certainly many more paths to God other than Christianity,” many of her admirers followed her “teaching.” She – and they – ignored the direct contradiction with Jesus’ declaration, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).
Ultimately, the difference between Christianity and every other belief system – whether New Age, Buddhism, Islam, or any other religion – boils down to one truth. While all other belief systems are based on a foundation of being good, Christianity proclaims that no matter how hard we try to live a good life, it will never be good enough. Jesus Christ had to die for us because we could never earn heaven on our own merit. The Bible tells us “the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus, our Lord” (Romans 6:23).
Our belief is not in Christianity. Our belief is not in doing good things to be saved from sin and death. Our belief is in a Person – Jesus Christ, God’s Son, the One who is who He said He is: the only way to the Father.
It’s not politically correct. But it’s true.