July 22, 2007

Fundamental difference between the two major world religions


We are presently in Indonesia where I’m teaching the course on Marriage & Family.  Here we are surrounded by the life and religion of the local people.  For them and for us, this includes being subjected to a number of calls from the nearby mosques five times a day.

As I lay in bed this morning reflecting on the “felt” influences of Islam upon anyone who lives in such a community, once again I reflected upon the radical differences between these Islam and Christianity.

The root difference is between submission to Allah’s LAWS (Islam), and walking in God’s GRACE (Christianity).

To be a good Muslim, one MUST pray.  One is required or obligated to pray five times a day in order to satisfy Allah’s demands.

Whereas a follower of Jesus is invited to pray anywhere, anytime about anything.  God’s Word exhorts and instructs a Christian to pray, but praying flows from a personal relationship with God that God in His kindness and grace has given as a free gift.

This fundamental difference can be felt and observed in every dimension of the life and the practices of all faithful followers of these two world religions.  (I do not comment on the many nominal adherents of these religions for whom praying, for example, is a religious practice when one is in dire straits, not as an integral part of everyday life.)

This difference is also felt in the way that both religions seek to draw people into their community.  (I deliberately do not use the Christian term “evangelistic” in this context because its root meaning is “evangel” or “good news”, which can only be used with reference to Jesus.)

Law-based expansionism leads to the use of methods and strategies to bring into submission, with potential fatal consequences if rejected.  Whereas grace-based evangelism leads to inviting people from any background to consider the claims of Jesus and then to believe, without any change to the relationship if the person chooses not to believe.

Law-based religion offers a way of life focused on fulfilling the demands of the law.  Grace-based religion offers a way of life focused upon enjoying the benefits of a relationship and choosing to live in submission to the teachings of Christ.

A law-based religion results in fear, a fear of failing to satisfy God’s holy requirements for becoming acceptable to God.  A grace-based religion results in freedom, enjoyed in a relationship rooted in unconditional love.

These two ways are in reality worlds and destinies apart, resulting in choosing different PATHS for living one’s life in this world, and vastly different DESTINIES for life in the world to come.


Graham M. Roberts

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