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Christianity Is Best
If the proverbial "visitor from Mars" came to earth looking for God, who might have a persoanl interest in him, he would have an extremely wide range of choice, taking account of all the various religions there are in the world. He would, however, surely be struck by the particular claims of Christianity, for it goes far beyond any other world religion in its view of the deeply personal nature of God's involvement with the people he has created.
No other religion comes anywhere near the conception of a God so intimately involved with his people. Nor one prepared to offer himself to them at such individual levels and with such intensely personal relationships. Consider a few:
GOD BECAME ONE OF HIS CREATED BEINGS
Myths abound with gods taking human form. But with Yahweh it was so different. God actually became one of us in every respect except sin (2 Corinthians 5. 21) -- and to do it, he left behind all the power and glory associated with God (Philippians 2. 6 - 8).
How much more involved can involvement become? Well, quite a lot! For God then proceeded to live cheek-by-jowl for thirty-three years with those he had created. Why? Simply to give them an example they could follow of the kind of life God wanted from them -- and to show what was possible in their lives.
How much greater personal commitment can there be than that? Well, in fact, quite a lot! For as King he then subjected himself to his subjects, allowed them to crucify him -- and all so that he could save them from their own stupidity and intransigence! (e.g. Romans 5. 18, 19).
THE GRANT OF HIS OWN POWER
Jesus, as the Christ, having suffered every ignominy possible, returned in glory to his Father's side -- and mainly so that the power which had been manifest in his own life on earth could be made available to his people (e.g. Luke 24. 49; John 16. 7). So, as God had made spiritual gifting available to a small selection of his people throughout the period covered by the Old Testament, now he made that empowering available to every one of his people, as he had promised. (Joel 2. 28 - 32. See also our book "The Empowering Of God's People" on our web site, [address below]).
From the Day of Pentecost onwards that empowering became the potential inheritance of every Christian disciple. "Potential" because many would not bother to accept what was offered to them through a range of charisms which, in principle, is infinite.
THE GRANT OF HIS OWN PRESENCE The relationship which the God of Christians desires is so personal that he has promised to continue to live with them and to be actively a part of their lives in several "unbelievable" (if the reader will excuse the pun) ways.
He gives himself in the form of the Holy Spirit to dwell within every baptised Christian (e.g. Mark 1. 8). This is so astounding a fact that we have a tendency to become blase about it because, when we consider its reality, it is so difficult to comprehend a God who would give himself in that way. Oh, certainly, we accept it as a tenent of our belief, but the actual reality often escapes us. Or why do so many of us apparently live such chunks of our lives without reference to him? To his advice? To his counselling? To his directing?
The "man from Mars" might be able to understand how this happens. But for us, our excuses are poor.
But there is more. God always continues with us through his Spirit, but Jesus also promised that he would be with us whenever and wherever we were prepared to gather together with other Christians in his name (Matthew 18. 20). Yet another personal touch.
Is there still more? Well, yes, but more controversially for Christians. For those who do not run away from the reality of it, as did many of Jesus' first disciples when he initially "floated" the idea (John 6, especially vv30 - 65 and then v66 and to the end), he is physically present in the bread and wine which is consecrated in remembrance of him (e.g. all Last Supper accounts in the synoptic gospels) and which is something Paul himself accepted (1 Corinthians 10. 15 - 17;11. 23 - 32). So besides a spiritual presence of jesus there is also a physical one.
All this would surely present an overwhelming case to the intelligent Martian looking for evidence of a personal God. Not a god who has a multiplicity of manifestations, who is in everything and is everything but is still essentially impersonal and distant from our lives. Not a god who sends messages of violence and destruction, nor one who is represented by a mere man who can never be surpassed.
Rather he would see a God, so perfect in his justice that sin had to be dealt with, but one so infinite in his mercy that he dealt with it in the only way possible: through his own self-sacrifice. And one who loves his people so much that he cannot but live with them, daily and continuously and who is prepared to share his power and his nature with them (2 Peter 1. 3,4).
This article was posted on November 13, 2005