People often ask me what makes Christianity different from other religions. This is a fair question. Today, while preparing for a memorial service, I came across the following excerpt from a sermon I did at a funeral a couple of years ago, which points toward a unique claim of the Christian faith. Since Easter is right around the corner, I thought it would be appropriate to post.
"You see, the Christian faith makes a particular and unique claim: Jesus (the Son of God) was crucified, dead and buried. After three days he was raised from the dead – not through some magic hocus pocus - but through the action of God to show God’s power over death and sin – two parts of life that seem to have so much power in the world, as evidenced by the power of the grief you are feeling right now.
Yet God has more power. Jesus conquered death and sin so that we, God’s creatures, are not conquered by death and sin. Jesus’ death releases us from the grips of these two oppressive powers and frees us for new life. This shows not only God’s amazing power, but it shows God’s amazing grace – God’s amazing love - that he would conquer those things on our behalf through the sacrifice of Jesus.
And so, by these acts, which are God’s initiative and not ours, we may lay claim to everlasting life – a life that begins here on earth and passes through death into new life at the resurrection. This everlasting life is not marked by fear or sorrow. This everlasting life is marked by hope and love. We have hope for the full and everlasting life God promises. And we grow in love for God, the one who frees us from the power of death and sin. And this love of God transforms us to go out and love others.
This is our unique and particular claim – that God loves us, and through Jesus saves us from death and sin, which transforms us to a people of hope and love. And this is a reason to celebrate life for death does not have the last word! That belongs to God, because God is about life – everlasting life!
And so my friends, today as we celebrate XXXXX’s life, a life of hope and love – may we rejoice in the everlasting life that is his and ours through Jesus."