Some comments a senator made this week have had some people talking – and rightfully so.
Senator Bernie Sanders is catching both critique and support for the questions he pointedly and repeatedly pressed a Trump nominee with this week.
In the hearing Sanders repeatedly questions a statement the nominee, Russell Vought, wrote in a publication about other religions having a “deficient” faith if they do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as their savior.
Sanders questioned Vought multiple times on whether or not he thought that Muslims or any American following another religion other than Christianity stood “condemned”?
And to be quite honest…
If I were writing this 3 years ago, I might have very well been writing in support of Sanders’ questions.
Because it is and it can be so difficult to understand how we could possibly believe that people must believe in Jesus or else they will…
…go to hell.
That just doesn’t FEEL loving.
And I want to come back to that. Because it is something I have struggled with deeply.
But I also want to point out another small issue with this controversy.
And that is this:
In Sanders’ intense frustration with what appears to be the condemnation of any other religion, he is simultaneously condemning Christianity.
In Vought’s essay, he was defending a decision his alma mater made to terminate a professor who was vocal about beliefs that did not align with the beliefs she had agreed to teach under at Wheaton College. If a Christian teacher had begun to preach the gospel at a public school, or pray before class in Jesus’ name, the same consequences would have likely been incurred.
Vought continuously responded to Sanders by saying, “Senator, I am a Christian.”
He also stated, “I believe that all individuals are made in the image of God and are worthy of dignity and respect regardless of their religious beliefs.”
But that wasn’t enough for Sanders. His face had now turned red with heat and frustration.
Clearly, Sanders has some deep rooted emotion behind his views on Christianity – or maybe just his views on condemnation.
And like I said, I understand.
It is so hard to say that one faith is right and the rest are wrong when the weight of the world is weighing down on you…
…when the weight of possibly losing a friendship is shattering your heart.
…when the weight of what people might think of you is tearing away your self-esteem.
…when the weight of losing your political platform is staring you right in the face.
But 3 years ago, I learned why Christians are so passionate about their faith and salvation through Christ alone.
Three years ago I learned that the Biblical scriptures don’t just condemn Muslims, Jews, Hindus, or Atheists.
The Christian scriptures say that everyone deserves condemnation.
“For the wages of sin is death…”Paul writes in Romans 6:23.
And prior to writing that in chapter 3, verse 23 he wrote, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
So if all have sinned and fall short, and the “wage” of that sin (or the payment it requires) is death, then we are all condemned to death.
But then God does this crazy thing. He makes a way for us to not have to pay for our sin. He makes a way for us to be reunited with Him again.
Paul continues in Romans 6:23 by writing,”…but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Paul was a Jew. A Jew who was very high up in the religious rankings.
He was the last person who wanted to be told that his religion was “deficient” or not the whole truth.
But then Jesus revealed Himself to him.
Paul started out killing Christians for what they believed.
Then he became a Christian.
And ultimately he died for being a Christian.
Here’s the thing, the world and the enemy will always want us to believe that Christianity is about excluding people – but it is actually a religion about an invitation.
An invitation from the creator of this world, and a God who loves His people to come back to Him.
Christianity is the only faith that says the ground is level at the foot of the cross. Christianity says, we’re all broken, we’re all sinners, and we all need a savior. And Christianity is an invitation to accept that savior.
Every other religion says that we have to work our way to be good enough for God. Or that we ought to be good for the sake of the common good.
But time and time again we fall short.
So Jesus says come. Come, follow me and you will have life. No longer will you live condemned to death. Follow me and be set free:
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30
“Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12
“Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.'” John 14:6
“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” Galatians 5:1
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10
“‘I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.’” John 16:33
God doesn’t want condemnation for His children. But condemned is our natural human condition (Genesis 3). And it is through Christ alone that God made a way for us to be pulled out of that condition.
What Sanders fails to realize is that every religion condemns.
But it is only through faith in Christ that we can truly be set free.