Reasons to Choose Jesus
- Christianity is the statistical best bet. If you had to bet on a religion, where would you put your money? If there is a God smart enough to create the universe and if He has requirements, then it logically follows that He would be smart enough to find a way to communicate His requirements to a significant portion of the human race. Therefore, it seems like a reasonable bet that some portion of the human race has figured out the God question. If there is a God, and if He does have a following here on earth, then statistically the best bets would be Christianity (33% of the earth's population), Islam (21%) and Hinduism (14%). (Only 8% of the earth's population does not believe in a God.)
- Christianity is more established worldwide. Islam is a latecomer on the scene with Mohammad dating from 570 AD. We have to ask why God would wait so long in history to make Himself known. Christianity per se starts at about 30 AD, but shares its roots with Judaism going back to Abraham (2000 BC), and, according to the Bible, to the very beginning. Although Hindu roots go back 3000 BC to the birth of Krishna, Hinduism is localized around India and hasn't had much success elsewhere. We would think God is interested in more than just the Indian subcontinent. Christianity has had the most success, spreading to every continent. Islam comes in second. Historically, Islam has spread through conquest. While Christianity has had its share of conquest conversions, gentle persuasion has been a much bigger part of the expansion success.
- Christians have validated their faith by their sacrifices. There is considerable antipathy against Christians and Jews in nearly every culture and nation. Why? If there really is an unseen battle between good and evil as the Christian religion teaches, and if Christians and Jews really are the people of God, then this universal hatred for them begins to make sense. On the flip side, over 100 million Christians have paid with their lives for their faith. That kind of dedication captures one's attention. Why would they be willing to make this supreme sacrifice? In radical Islam, the Muslim martyr dies killing. But in radical Christianity, the Christian martyr dies caring.
- You must make a choice. The idea that all religions teach basically the same thing isn't true. They teach mutually contradictory tenets. Being a good Hindu does not make you a good Muslim, and being a good Muslim doesn't make you a good Christian. Some of their teachings may overlap, but to embrace one you will need to reject others. Which one should you embrace? Some religions, such as Buddhism, teach the way of isolation.* Ambitions lead to suffering; by giving up all desires you achieve Nirvana, which, as I understand it, is nothingness. God is a noble silence, a state, not a person with whom you may have a relationship. Others, like Hinduism, teach the way of repetition. Reincarnation becomes the basis for a try, try again religion where the ultimate goal is to combine with the unconscious, impersonal force of the universe. I find reincarnation unappealing because I don't see the personal accountability for one's actions, good or bad. Other religions, like Islam, teach the way of accomplishment. In this approach, God is the judge. Absolute obedience is required. No relationship is possible. If you're good enough, you earn your way to paradise. Others, such as agnostics, take the way of ease. Believing “what you don't know can't hurt you,” they ignore religion and its requirements. In this approach, self becomes God. Christianity offers the final approach: the way of grace. Christianity is founded on the premise that God loves humans so much that He became a human, that as a human He suffered and died to demonstrate how much He cares about us, and that He came back to life to demonstrate His power over death. The followers of Jesus Christ are taught that we don't get connected to God because we do good, but rather we do good because we are connected with God. This paradigm shift empowers even the most grievous offender to find personal restoration and a relationship with a personal-infinite God.
- Life works better God's way. If you carefully read books on success, personal growth, fulfillment, business growth and so on, you find Biblical principles restated again and again. Trust, love, servant leadership, integrity, relationship building, respect and so on are all core Christian values. No wonder that nations with a strong Christian heritage are typically much wealthier than nations with little or no Christian heritage.
- Christianity promises a powerful afterlife. The promise of eternal life, fully conscious, self-actualized, total fulfillment, in a community of people whom you love and who love you, in relationship with God Himself is an awesome promise. If only 10% of it were true, it would be far too good to miss.
- It's far too dangerous not to choose Jesus Christ. Christianity emphasizes a real, conscious and certain meeting with God that will take place for all of us at which time we will be assigned an eternal destiny, heaven or hell. We may not like the idea of hell, but if there's any chance – even a 1/100th of 1% chance that hell is real, then we need to take steps to avoid it. Think about it. We don't expect our houses to burn down or our cars to be stolen, but we buy insurance anyway, just in case. The descriptions provided by those who claim to have visited hell are far too terrible to ignore. Better to make peace with God and avoid hell, than to avoid the issue and find yourself trapped in an eternal nightmare.
So, what's involved in choosing Jesus? The Bible says, “The one who has the Son [Jesus Christ] has life, but the one who does not have the Son does not have life.” (1 John 5:12) “For God so loved the word that He gave His one and only Son [Jesus Christ], that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
If you're exploring, here's a good prayer.
“True God of the universe, I want to make the right choice. I want to choose You. Make Yourself real to me, I pray. Grant me wisdom and courage to choose correctly, because I want to please You. Please make the right choice abundantly clear to me, and remove any obstacles that would keep me from choosing You.”
If you're ready to choose Jesus, here's a prayer that can help. (While the process of receiving Jesus and choosing to follow Him looks slightly different for each person, this prayer covers the bases.)
“Lord Jesus, I invite You into my life, into the deepest places of my heart, into the everydayness of my life. You died on the cross for me. You were buried and You came back to life and ascended into heaven to prepare a place for me. I thank You. I give my life to You. Forgive me for all my wrongs. Grant me the ability to forgive those who have wronged me. Make me into a new person, a person who loves and follows You. Bring truth to all the places where I have believed lies. Give me please, the gift of eternal life with you. Teach me how to follow You.”
If you've prayed this prayer, please contact me and/or get in touch with a Christian pastor who can help you with your spiritual journey.
*My thanks to Sarah Karlen for her insights on the basic approaches offered by various religions.
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