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What do Christians have to offer?

I just had an interesting conversation with a friend who posed this question: “What does religion offer that can’t be found elsewhere?” Before you read on, stop and jot down an answer or 2. (Don’t worry—nobody else will see your answer!)

Over the years, many people have tried to answer this question,  and to be honest, it’s usually answered wrongly. The answer usually has something to do with morality, that religion gives people a reason to be good. For most religions, that may be the case, with little more to offer.

But Christianity offers something else entirely and is unique in this offering: Christianity offers forgiveness. Really, the world has only had two religions in its history: grace and works. All religions throughout the history of the planet have taught that you must “be good” (however that religion defines its morality) in order to achieve the end result of that religion (paradise, Nirvana, or even simply being fondly remembered). How many funerals have you attended that focused mostly on how “good” the person was? Why do funeral directors focus so much on remembering the life of that person, the past? Because short of Christ, that’s all we have.

But Christianity offers more than just fond memories or a reason to be good. Christianity is there when the memories aren’t so good. Christianity is there when we haven’t been good. In Christ, we have what nothing else on earth can offer: forgiveness. 

Our world and culture live in a constant state of guilt. It’s why “the first African American president” is such a big deal—because we feel guilty about the way minorities have been treated in the past. It’s also why we have programs that give additional rights to certain groups—because we feel guilty and want to cover that guilt. It’s also the reason so much guilt is denied. Sexual immorality and “cohabitation” have become common and accepted (Remember when we used to call that “living in sin”? Why don’t we anymore?), because we try to deny that we’re accountable to God and our neighbor for our actions and are afraid to confront others’ sins. We allow and spread gossip instead of confronting it as hurtful and sinful, because we know we’ve done it, too, and if we stand up against it, we’ll become the subject of the next gossip.

But in Christ, we have been set free from guilt. Our sins have been nailed to the cross and removed from us, so whatever our past decisions, today is a new day to abandon yesterday’s sin, knowing God has forgotten it. You need no longer be plagued by guilt, but rather can rejoice in your forgiveness.

So what does Christianity offer? Forgiveness of sins, a fresh start, and assurance and hope of eternal life with God, guaranteed.