July 30, 1996
Recently someone asked me to teach them how to use a computer spreadsheet program. I declined on the grounds I’d never used it myself therefore was not qualified to teach anyone else. That would be like engaging a wilderness guide who had never left the suburbs or hiring a chauffeur who had never driven a car.
Credentials are very important when enlisting the help of someone else. If the guide or instructor has no qualifying experience whatsoever, the best they can do is cheer for you. Not that cheerleaders are useless, but they cannot replace experts who know their stuff.
In the area of leadership credentials, Christianity is unique. Those who follow Christ have a teacher and guide in the driver’s seat who has “been there and done that” as far as spiritual experience is concerned. Because of Him, our faith is unique.
This uniqueness is not in that we have only one leader. Almost all other religions are the same. Buddhists follow the teachings of Gautama Buddha, their philosopher and founder. Muslims follow Muhammad, an Arab prophet. The Bahia religion was founded by Mirza Husayn Ali Bahaullah. Taoism dates back to Lao-Tzu in the 6th century B.C. and at the same time, Zoroastrianism began under a Persian prophet named Zoroaster. Smaller cults and sects also have individual leaders, both those that mimic Christianity and others that are more like Eastern Mysticism.
Neither is our faith unique because of our commitment to our leader. In fact, we follow Jesus Christ for many of the same reasons others follow their religions. For instance, we believe His teaching is true, just as others believe in their leaders. We find peace in trusting Him, which others also claim regarding their leaders. The precepts of Jesus work for us, just as others claim the teachings of their leaders works for them.
However, there is one thing about Jesus Christ that sets Him apart — a unique claim made by Him and applauded by those who know Him. No person has ever made the same claim and been able to substantiate it. Not one religious leader or teacher has ever dared to say this about themselves. The claim is that Jesus Christ never, ever did anything wrong. Although He “was tempted in every way, just as we are — He was without sin.”
Sin is much more than murder, lying or envy. Those who sin are acting against God’s will because they have a God-resisting heart. Jesus did not have any such resistance. Instead, He claimed, “I came to do the will of my Father.” His life shows complete obedience to God’s law and complete trust in every area, no matter how difficult the trial.
Perhaps His greatest test occurred when His Father asked Him to go to the cross. Sending Him as a substitute to die for sinners was God’s will. His intention was to “make (Jesus) who had no sin, be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.”
As the Bible says, some will die for family or friends or good people, but God asked His Son to die for people who were opposed to Him, sinners who resisted Him. Furthermore, He was the only one who could bear our sin and pay its penalty because He had no sin of His own. If He sinned, He would need to be punished Himself.
The Bible says the wages of sin is death. Since Jesus was sinless, He did not deserve what He received on the Cross in our place. Therefore, once the penalty was paid on our behalf, the grave had no power to hold Him — He rose from the dead and lives forever.
That is the uniqueness of Christ and Christianity. We can conquer sin and death because our Leader has not only been there and done that, but also offers the same victory to us!