If Christ is the answer for the world, those that follow Christ should reflect something distinctively different than people of other faiths or those without any faith at all. In fact, if Christianity is what it claims to be as a religion, then it should be glaringly different than all other religions. But is it? Let’s evaluate Christianity in hopes that we solidify the notion that this particular faith is particularly different than all other faiths.
All faiths have an organized set of beliefs, practices and tenets, so this is not a distinctive. Many religions have a “holy” book or writings as a source of wisdom or direction. So, having a Bible isn’t such a distinctive. So, what makes Christianity so different? It only seems reasonable to think that those who read a “holy book” should also put into practice that which they read. This only seems reasonable. In fact, a religion that claims to be one thing and practices quite another has integrity challenges from the start.
What do Christians do?
How does Christianity stack up when it comes to actually doing something in the world to make the world a better place and give people hope? What do Christians do that is unlike others and also glorifies the focal point of the religion? Is Christianity a dry set of ancient beliefs or a modern-day relevant answer to living in the pain of this fallen world. Let’s grade Christianity to see if its bark is bigger than its bite. Does Christianity back up its rhetoric with actions, deeds, love, comfort, empathy and healing?
Care for orphans and widows
I cannot recall an orphanage in the world under the leadership of any religion other than Christianity. Every day, in the Name of Christ, millions of children all over the world are taught, protected and cared for by Christians. Why is that? The first book written in the New Testament sets the tone for this kind of faith in action. “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world” (James 1:27). True religion doesn’t simply study, mediate and sing. True religion acts differently, loves tangibly and uses words, only when necessary.
Heal the sick
More hospitals exist around the world in the name of Christ than of any other religion. Christ is a Healer, why wouldn’t there be healing centers the world over with “crosses” on the side of their structures. It is one thing to pray for healing and it is quite another to be a willing agent of healing, “faith without works is dead” (James 2:17).
I have traveled the world over, and I have seen a plethora of Christian rehabilitation and counseling centers. Christ is our Wonderful Counselor, shouldn’t we see people overcome calamity, addiction and disease in the Name of Christ? Why are there not orphanages and hospitals and rehab centers funded and run by other religions? This is peculiar to me. As Christ demonstrated His love for mankind by dying for the sin of mankind, so too, His followers demonstrate that love in both words and in deeds.
Feed the poor
Christianity makes it paramount to feed the poor, clothe the naked and serve the alienated, lonely and disenfranchised. Christianity is both a belief and a practice. The world is littered with Christian schools, universities and vocational training centers. Say what you will about Christians, but they are ready, prepared and present during disaster relief efforts to minister to immediate needs as well as rebuild homes, lives, families and communities. Christians share and demonstrate the love of Christ among refugees, battered women and wounded warriors. The Red Cross is known by a “cross” for good reason.
Christianity is not so heavenly minded that it is no earthly good. No, in fact, loving followers of Christ, sacrificially fund billions of dollars-worth of care, treatment, instruction and protection for billions of people every year, decade after decade and century after century. Why is this one religion so distinctive in its generosity while other religions are seeming absent while people suffer in pain, in loss and in confusion?
Perhaps, the King of every king and the Lord of every lord, described in the Bible, actually is resurrected from the dead and still actively pursuing hurting people all over His world through those who acknowledge His Lordship above all others. Christianity is distinctive only because Christ is unlike any other. A+ for distinctiveness, effectiveness and relevance.
Dr. Gary Hewins is the President of lifepoints.org, a coaching and consulting ministry to ministry leaders and preachers and the Senior Pastor of Community Bible Church in the picturesque mountains of Highlands, N.C.