What is it about Christmas that sets it apart from other holidays such as Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Labor Day, and Veterans Day? Perhaps the better question to ask in order to answer the first is what is it about Christianity that sets it apart from the other religions of the world? To many people around the world Christianity is simply thrown into the pile of “religion” and is viewed in the same light as Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, etc. However, the beauty of Christmas reveals to us an incredibly unique Truth that is central to Christianity. So……
What is it about Christianity that sets it apart from all other religions of the world?
The answer can be found in the first chapter of the Gospel of John. This chapter begins in John 1:1-3 ESV with the words, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.” In reading those words alone a person would possibly reason that Christianity carries no distinction from other belief systems of the world. The fact is, pretty much any religion that you can find has an eternal “being” that has existed from the beginning of time and is responsible for the plight of humanity and its creation. However, one only needs to read the Word of God down to verse 14 to understand that Christianity reveals a very incredible and distinct Truth from all other religions of the world. To explain, John 1:14 ESV says, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” What an incredible declaration! The fact is…..
It is the Truth of the statement, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” that the hope of all humanity hinges upon!
Take a minute and allow the implications of this Truth to penetrate your mind. The eternal Word that spoke the world into existence; the One that was before time began through which all life had its origin took on humanity and became flesh! In fact, John gives testimony that he and the other disciples had seen His glory! How? Because the Word that was from the beginning had now come to earth and in accordance with the declaration of the angel of the LORD to Joseph He would be called Jesus! It would be Jesus that would reveal Himself to the disciples as the Messiah. It would be Jesus that would perform miracles that only God Himself could perform. It would be Jesus that would humbly submit His life to be sacrificially given on a Roman cross for the sins of men. It would be Jesus that would not allow the grave to hold Him but would conquer death and rule as LORD today. How is all of this possible? Because God took on flesh. This statement is huge for a world that cant save itself! If not for God becoming flesh and living the life of sinless perfection we could never live we would all be hopelessly dependent upon ourselves for salvation. But God Himself provided the solution to the problem of sin by taking on humanity! Romans 8:3-4 ESV says, “For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us.” God did the work that man could never do. This separates Christianity from all other religions. For example:
- Buddhists believe that to reach Nirvana, a transcendental state of bliss, a person must follow the Noble Eightfold Path. This process of personal effort and discipline will end suffering for the individual.
- Hindus believe that one reaches Moksha—freedom from this world and the cycle of death and reincarnation—by practicing self-sacrifice, meditation, and certain levels of self-realization.
- Muslims believe that Allah grants Paradise to those who live a life of moral uprightness, using the Five Pillars as basic guidelines.
All of these beliefs point to a method of works salvation. However, the incarnation of Jesus reminds us that we are saved by the work of God alone. That is the difference of Christmas!