Why is Christianity Special
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. . . . In him was life; and the life was the light of men.
~ John 1:1, 4 (KJV)
Have you ever sat back and thought about how Christianity is different from other religions? There are obvious dozens of specific differences — we worship Jesus Christ, we go to churches and worship (generally) on Sunday, we believe in life after death, and so on. But at a more categorical level, there are several things that make Christianity different from any other religion, and the biggest one is found in John 1:1.
We do not worship a philosophy or an idea; Jesus' primary meaning was not his role as a revered teacher, like Buddha or Confucius, or even as a prophet like Mohammad or Moses. We worship a person who was God; no other religious figure (among major religions) even makes this claim, much less a credible claim believed by millions and billions of people.
The extraordinary thing about it is that we are able, through the grace of God in making Christ incarnate, to actually know God as a person. That is, a human being. He was a flesh-and-blood friend to the disciples. He ate meals with them; he took trips with them; he talked with them. He was like them: he got hungry, he got tired, he bled, and he died. Setting aside the critical theological implications of salvation by belief in Christ, if you follow Judaism or Islam or any other religion, you lose something else as well: God is not your friend. One reason He came down to dwell among us was just so that we could love him, not in an abstract way, but just as we love our favorite person.
He has left us for a while, but we still know him as an intimate and loving friend; partly through proxy, of course, reading about his friendship with others who are long gone, but also through the Spirit God sent to keep us company while Christ was away from the earth.
Do not be afraid, out of a sense of reverence, to be friends with God. We must always respect him as God, and worship him; but we can also be friends with him and talk to him. It is a wonderful thing to be able to do, and I hope you will take advantage of it every day. (John 15:15)
Lord Christ, let me never forget that you are my friend, as well as my God. Amen.
~ Mason Barge
Editor, Daily Prayer