Introductory Story: Philip Yancey tells about a religious conference where great scholars were discussing the comparative difference between the world’s great religions. There are a number of similarities: moral codes to follow, legends about life after death, various “incarnation accounts” about how some form of God-in-human-form was suddenly among us here on earth. C. S. Lewis wandered into the room, wondering what the debate was about. “What is Christianity’s unique contribution or advantage?” He answered instantaneously. “Oh, that’s easy. It’s grace.”
Counterpoint: Buddhism is not all bad, all false. There’s much truth to be found in this Eastern faith embraced by millions. It teaches peace and holy living, respect for one’s neighbour. “Turn the other cheek” is truly as Buddhist as it is Christian. Buddhist writings describe the three poisons of greed, anger, and stupidity—and how to focus one’s mind away from such illnesses, or the workings of “devils from within.”
Dilemma: When we consider the problem of sin, the need for forgiveness, our yearning for a Savior . . . the philosophies of Buddhism run dry. Except for the endless cycles of karma, a slow balancing of the scales by living through many reincarnated lives of pain and sorrow and lessons learned over and over again, Buddhism has no answer for the sin problem of man.
Media References: The Ten Challenges, by Dr. Leonard Felder, explores the Ten Commandments from a common variety of faith perspectives: Jewish, Christian, Muslim, New Age. From his background as a skilled psychiatrist, he shows how the Decalogue is an exceptional blueprint for successful living in the 21st century.
Dr. Laura Schlessinger co-wrote, with Rabbi Stewart Vogel, The Ten Commandments: The Significance of God’s Laws in Everyday Life. This controversial radio personality, who calls herself “America’s Mommy,” dispenses practical Bible wisdom in these 320 pages. There’s very little a Christian would argue with. Both of these volumes lift up the Sabbath is a healing tool.
Singular Advantage: However, Christianity’s unique plus is eloquently expressed by John the Baptist at the Jordan River. He’s baptizing people who have come to see in themselves a sin problem. They don’t need psychiatry or radio advice. They need release from the guilt of their human depravity. These fishermen, housewives, teenagers and Roman soldiers look into the crude mirrors of Judean life and know they are sinners. They know they need cleansing. John sees his own Cousin approaching. Pointing to the Man they’re already calling the Messiah, he announces: Behold, the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.
Crucial Difference: The world needs a Redeemer. Christianity offers six billion sinners a release from sin, amazing grace that comes from Jesus the Lamb.
Not Another Philosophy. Even C. S. Lewis once observed that if Christianity was just one more philosophy or sociological theory about how to get along, then it is of no importance. New formulas come along all the time; brilliant new preachers show up constantly. If we want more Beatitudes, we could hire Hallmark’s writers to craft some more. (Theirs would even rhyme!)
Jesus the Unique: John Stott, The Contemporary Christian. He lifts up the one advantage only the Christian faith can offer to a dying world. “Our claim, then, is not just that Jesus was one of the great spiritual leaders of the world. It would be hopelessly incongruous to refer to Him as ‘Jesus the Great,’ comparable to Alexander the Great, Charles the Great or Napoleon the Great. Jesus is not ‘the Great’; He is the Only. He has no peers, no rivals and no successors.”
Humble Proclamation: We share this news in absolute humility. It’s our lack of goodness that makes the unique role of Jesus the Lamb so needed and gratefully embraced.
New Testament Illustration: In Acts 3, Peter and John go to the temple for the 3:00 p.m. prayer. A crippled man hopes for a coin. But Peter hurts his feelings by saying, “Hey, I don’t have any money. But what I do have, I’ll give you.” He had the healing power of Jesus, the forgiving ability of Jesus, the eternal life only Jesus can offer.
Closing Song Thought: “There is a Savior; What joys express. His eyes are mercy, His Word is rest. For each tomorrow, For yesterday, There is a Savior, Who lights the way.”
Submitted by David B. Smith. Better Sermons © 2005-2007. Click here for usage guidelines.