I can’t tell you how many times I’ve talked to people who tell me, “Well, all religions are basically the same.” When I hear that, I know that the individual has either never explored becoming a follower of Jesus or they have been subjected to some very misleading teaching. I would grant, that at their core, most religions are the same. They all involve a deity who set some standard or demands certain rules to be obeyed and then humans are left to pursue living up to that standard or following those rules. But Christianity is different. It is the only religion that has a God that pursues humans instead of the other way around.
From the beginning of time, God has been pursuing His creation, wooing them back to the ideal for which He created them. No matter how far we try to run, God is always there to meet us where we’re going. Throughout the Old Testament we see the unyielding and incomprehensible patience of God in the way He accommodates cultural practices that fall far short of His design in order to gently call people back to Himself. Through ten thousand years of disobedience, our God has been ever patiently guiding us back to Him, back to paradise, back to the place He always intended for us – living in His presence.
God gave us rules to keep us safe and help us to live the life He designed us to live. The laws of the Old Testament were given to help us love in the way that He loves us. Over time, we added our own rules on top of God’s, rules that were burdensome and impossible to keep. Still, God kept calling us back, calling out through the thick shadows of the new rules we had allowed society and culture to hang around our necks. Jesus said that His burden was light (Matthew 11:29-30), and in fact summed up all the so-called rules of God into one word: love (Matthew 22:36-40). That love is what compels Him to continue the pursuit of us. No matter what we do to turn away, no matter how often we spit in His face, no matter how much we refuse to love, our God still pursues us.
No other religion can make this claim. No other religion has a god that will relentlessly pursue them regardless of their actions. This is our God. This is Yahweh, the one and only true God. In return for salvation from this evil world, our God asks only that we love Him and love others in the same way. These aren’t really rules at all, but rather the culmination of everything we were created to be. We find our purpose and meaning in loving and being loved. God is calling out to each of us right now. He’s reaching out His arms of love. He sent His only Son to earth to live as one of us to demonstrate the depths to which He was willing to go in His pursuit. Christianity is different in that it is not about pursuing anything, but rather is all about the God who pursues us.