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Religion Shopping

I had just finished the funeral and burial services of one of the Lord’s sweet saints. I had the privilege of knowing the family for decades, and had watched their faith blossom and shine in good times and in bad. It was a story of walking with Jesus until the end of life’s journey through the valley of death and into life everlasting. Certainly, it is an amazing comfort to know the truthfulness of our Lord who provides for us to live and never die. The service was over, the burial had taken place and I was just visiting with friends and family members. One conversation became immediately intriguing to me. The comments from this particular family member seemed to be genuine as the person expressed interest in what I had said and about the truthfulness of the remarks from Jesus about everlasting life.

We talked for a little while and then this person said, “Well, for some time I have been religion hunting.” I said, “Well, what does that mean and what does that involve?” The response was, “Well, I go from one church to another, one religion to another, and try to discover which one actually fits me the best.” This person had been to Baptist churches, Pentecostal churches, the Catholic Church and beyond that religions that were not connected with Christianity. The list apparently was almost endless, and it included Islam, Judaism, Mormonism and Buddhism. This was all in the name of trying to find what fit. Returning to the remarks that I had made at the funeral, I sought to solidly present the Good News from heaven in Jesus Christ that our sins can be forgiven because of His sacrificial gift to us on the cross. Jesus is alive and well and that a commitment to Him brings about not just a religious activity that we participate in but a complete walk of life in faith and confidence day after day. I suppose it began to sound like a sermon so it wasn’t long before the conversation was over.

I thought about how in our day that may be more the norm than we want to consider as people seem to be in search of the right fit for their thinking, their living, their lifestyle and how they can fit God into their everyday activities. I thought about how much that is like a visit to a large athletic store. Now if you have ever been in one of those big, big stores you know that you can walk into a section where they have a shoe for every person and every conceivable sport. Baseball, football, biking, track, walking, running slow, running fast, running long distance and on and on are the styles of shoes on the shelves are displayed.

Now if you are a walker or a runner, you probably know what brand of shoe fits you best so when you go looking for a new pair that narrows it down to a smaller group. Then you begin to look for cost, color and that sort of thing. It is no easy task to pick out the right shoe that fits you and your personality. But we are not talking about shoes. We are talking about something that is a million times more important. How do you discover the God-guided way to life and life everlasting? Well it may encompass a lot of other features, but I would suggest to you that you might consider three things.

First, consider the founder. The founder of Christianity has no peer. He has no equal and if you study the lives of those who began any religious movement you will soon come to the conclusion that this Jesus, the Christ, this God in the flesh is the most incredible person who has ever lived. No doubt there are great people who have walked this earth and they were looked to for instruction, counseling, guidance, and insight. And yet the more you search their lifestyles, the more you will find that they were flawed, fickled, frustrated, and fashioned just like us. Jesus, the Son of God, lived among us, faced all that we face, and He never sinned not in word, not in deed, and not in thought. The more you know of Him, the more you are amazed by Him.

Second, consider the foundation. While most of the time Christians would reject the idea that Christianity is a religion, the reality is that Christianity is seen as such, and so then you begin to look at what its foundational elements are that enable you to be a Christian and to experience Christ. Among those foundational elements I would place first is love. The whole story of you and me coming to know God through Jesus Christ begins with the fact that God loves us. He made us and when we turn our backs on Him, rebel and live in our stubborn will with our gross attitudes, He still loves us. Because of His love He sent His only Son, Jesus, to die in our place. Love did that! It is an eternal fact that no one has ever loved you like Jesus.

Thirdly, consider the faith that sets Christianity apart from all other religions. The more you learn about world religions the more you will understand that there are some with good qualities and some not so good but nearly without exception they require you to live up to some standard of walk and lifestyle that enables you to attain rightness before God and eternal life. The problem is that regardless of how good you live you cannot undo one sin. All of the goodness does not overcome one sin. Our God made all of the provisions for our sins to be paid for and forgiven if we would trust Him. Romans 10:9 says, “If thou shall confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” If you trust that God has made the provisions and as a sinner you claim Him as your Lord, He will save you. It is all by faith and not by works. It is not payments that you may make and it is not a host of good deeds. It is by trusting God.

A final consideration I would suggest that needs to be closely studied is the future life — heaven, hell, and eternity. All of those things in the Christian faith continue to be centered in Christ Jesus. He saves us, walks with us, and He Himself anchors our lives forever. Other religions may have some hope of attaining life’s pleasures multiplied many times over or a thought of returning in some reincarnated state in a higher or lower species of animal. Our Lord simply says, “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself, that where I am, there you may be also” (John 14:3). Here is the undisputable fact. Jesus the Christ, the Lord and the Savior, is actually the only One who fits. He fits us, He fits our every need and He fits our heart’s desire today. My prayer for you is that you know Him and you will enjoy this day walking with Him.

Jim Futral

Executive Director-Treasurer

directions@mbcb.org

11-14-13

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