A while back, a member of my secular writers’ group asked me the question in the above title. He followed it up with a second question. “Don’t all religions teach the same thing—don’t kill, cheat, steal; be nice?”
I answered his second question first. “Yes. Every religion I’ve learned about basically follows the Ten Commandments. Christians, Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, Animists, Jews, and even atheists who claim no religion, understand right and wrong behavior, and most of them want to do what is right.” All people share these values because they’re made in God’s image, whether they acknowledge Him or not.
I went on to explain the crucial difference between Christianity and all others. “However, all those good behaviors are secondary for the Christian. The prime directive is to love God, that in everything you do, you do it for God’s glory.” (My paraphrase of 1 Corinthians 10:31.) I shared how John Piper has written volumes on the concept of “The chief end of man is to glorify God by enjoying Him forever.”
My writer friend’s eyes widened in surprise and confusion. I needed to clarify. “When you love someone, you enjoy him or her.
“God sent His own Son to live on earth, teach His people eternal Truth, and die an agonizing death to pay for their sins. How could I not love a God who loved me so much? And then the Son rose again and lives! It is my joy to worship Him. My love for Him, even more than my good deeds toward others, is the most important thing. That is what makes the Christian faith so different from all other religions.”
I wish someone had taken a photograph when I talked about enjoying God. I could feel my entire being smile. I hope the love of Jesus radiated from me.
The young man responded to my explanation with these words. “I went to parochial schools the whole time I was growing up and never heard Christianity explained that way.”
I told him I’d be happy to discuss his faith questions any time, but since we both had other obligations that day, we left the conversation there. Besides, I figured deep truths needed to be digested a little at a time.
Maybe I should have stayed to talk more and to arrive late for the next item on my day’s agenda. The man never returned to the writers’ group. Did I scare him away? Did his life get busy? Did he lose interest in writing? I can only hope he contemplated my response to his questions and searched the scriptures for himself. Meanwhile, I pray he will come to adore the One Who sacrificed His life for him, and me, and all who call Him “LORD.”