Thursday, December 15, 2011

Jesus Is More Than Just Another Slice of Pizza in the Box!

"There are many paths to the top of the mountain!" and "There are many ships that cross the ocean!" are ancient oft quoted statements that claim all religions are equal and no one superior to any other.

I and my family enjoy eating pizza. We have done our share in helping pizza establishments in our area stay in business over time. We have patronized different pizza outlets within a radius of about 10 miles. The common pizza we usually get is one with pepperoni. Once in a while Jean and I will take advantage of Pizza Hut's buffet where you can get a wide variety of stuff for one price and really pig out by choice!

Enough of our personal experiences with pizza and on to the subject at hand. Never has there been a time in which there has been more intense insistence that all religions are legitimate in the claims which each makes in addressing the issues of human life, responsibility, morality, death, and destiny.

It is as if one said that Jesus is just another slice of pizza in the box. I have noticed that when we get pizza in a box that there are some minor differences -- some pieces are a little larger than others and some may have more pepperoni on than others. So you can choose a bigger or smaller piece and if you are really into pepperoni, you pick the piece that has more on it than others.

There are those, including persons within the ranks of professing Christianity, who say that it is up to you to decide the "religion" with which you want to identify -- one is as good as another. And that, of course, includes Christianity. Just pick and choose and should you become dissatisfied, just come back to the religion box and choose another one!

There are still a few of us around who are quite radical on this issue. We maintain that true Christianity is distinctly separate from and far superior to all other religious expressions found in today's world. Another way of saying it is that only Christianity is the true faith and all the others, whether the devotees number but a few dozen or into the millions, are totally false!

The determining factor making the difference is none other than Jesus Christ Himself! While His uniqueness is mentioned repeatedly throughout the New Testament Scriptures, it is in the Gospel of John that His absolute claims concerning Himself are made known and the fact that either He is genuine or if not, then He qualifies as a first class candidate for admission to the nearest institution for those who are mentally deranged!

All the claims He made are very well summed up in two: first, the claim that He is the way, the truth and the life and that no one can come to the Father except through Him and second, the claim that He is the resurrection and the life and those who believe in Him will not die but will live. Critics will jump on that by saying that even Christians die, so Jesus is wrong. The fact is that Christians do not die -- it is a simple experience of moving out of their earthly bodies (described elsewhere in Scripture as a tent) and going into the presence of God. In some cases God has permitted some Christians to tarry a bit at that moment when they are leaving and speak some words of what they see -- past departed loved ones, angels, and even the Lord Jesus Himself! Those two claims of Jesus can be read at John 14 and John 11. But as you go through the Gospel of John, note every statement of Jesus which is preceded with the words, "I am...."

Christianity in its purest expression is uncompromising in stating that Jesus is God revealed in human form Who demonstrated the perfect life lived on earth. But the most significant act in His visit to the planet which He created a long time ago is seen in His sacrificial death on a Roman cross. His death was on behalf of every human born into this world as He paid the penalty for every sin committed by every human being (yes, even for those who follow the many false religions of this world) and made possible total forgiveness and acceptance in the presence of a holy God!

Three days after the crucifixion Jesus was resurrected from the dead and appeared to many people over a 40 day period. Some of His followers saw Him ascend back to Heaven and heard angels declare that this same Jesus Who had been taken from them would return in like manner at some point in the future. We are now a little over 2,000 years closer to His return than when that statement was first made!

No other religion outside of Christianity has anything that even begins to remotely resemble what the Christian faith is all about and the One in Whom it is centered -- a Savior Who paid the price of the sins of the entire human race through the sacrifice of Himself willingly ("No man takes my life from me -- I lay it down and I take it up again!" - also found in Gospel of John) and His subsequent victory in resurrection from the dead!

Becoming a Christian is, however, a conditional experience. We are called to repent of our sins -- that is, to abandon our sinful ways, and to receive Jesus into our lives by invitation with the intent that we seek to be obedient to Him for the rest of our lives here on earth. This results in being "born again" as mentioned in John 3 of the Gospel. It is a new and transformed life that results. One has moved from concentrating on self and the "What I want" way of life to what is it that Jesus wants of me -- how might I please Him each day that I live?

Again, no other religion in the world has anything that begins to compare to this -- it is only experienced in Jesus Christ and nowhere else!

One can be choosy when it comes to the pizza in the box -- you can pick a big slice, or a smaller slice -- one with lots of pepperoni or one with not so much, or even choose to remove all the pepperoni as certain members in our family choose to do. But when it comes to the religion issue -- be sure to choose the one that is centered in Jesus Christ and be assured of a place in His Kingdom forever -- choosing any other is a sure guarantee of ending up in a Devil's Hell! And that is not an opinion on my part, but what Jesus Himself said about the destiny of those who reject Him! Yes, Jesus is more than just another slice of pizza in the box -- He is Savior, Lord, and our soon returning King!

"Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?' And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!' Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. Now everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall." --- Jesus speaking in Matthew 7:21-27