It might surprise you to learn that there are really only two ways to "do religion." You can do it with Christ at the center or with man at the center. Every religious approach other than Christianity relies upon man to achieve paradise, nirvana, enlightenment, or some other expression of eternal bliss and happiness.
The religion of Christ, on the other hand, involves Jesus of Nazareth at the center. He created the world in the beginning; He redeemed the world in the middle; and He will bring His children home to heaven at the end.
Other than Christianity, you won't find a belief system which presents the following message:
1) God loves man, whom He created.
2) Man's sin against God separated him from his Creator.
3) The Son of God left heaven and took on human flesh in order to redeemman.
4) The Son of God was sacrificed for man's sin.
5) God forgives those who repent of their sin and accept Christ as Savior.
6) God comes to live inside His children.
7) Followers of Jesus sincerely seek to do God's will.
Salvation is either a gift or it is earned. God's Word says it is a gift, while the world's most popular religion makes you work in hopes of earning it. In Christianity, you are saved, redeemed, justified, born again and forgiven at the beginning of your journey with Jesus. The alternative to Christianity is actually the world's most popular religion, where people strive to make themselves worthy of being justified before God one day. Since those are the only two options, which path are you on?
PASTOR NICHOLAS DOUGHERTY
FAITHFUL SHEPHERD PRESBYTERIAN, OMAHA
It's been a party at Faithful Shepherd since Easter Sunday. What, you didn't know that mainline Protestant churches knew how to party? While we promise we have not been having any Sunday morning lines for beer, mimosas, bloody marys or the like, we have been partying in a liturgical sort of way for weeks now.
Eastertide is the seven-week season from Easter to Pentecost, and in the early centuries of this Christian faith, it has been a party, a true jubilation of faith. In the early church, fasting and kneeling in prayer were forbidden during this season because that's no way to act during a period of jubilation.
Contrasting the penitence, deep and painful journey to the cross that comes during the 40 days of Lent, Eastertide isour season to shout "hallelujah!" from the top of our souls with no thought of embarrassing ourselves or anyone else. Jesus Christ has risen and defeated death for all of eternity. That is a celebration that cannot and must not end after worship on Easter Sunday. That jubilation — that party — must go on.
I invite you, wherever you may worship, to the party of Eastertide. Spend these next few weeks being very intentional about praising and thanking God for all the goodness that is in this world. Above all, thank God that Jesus lives and reigns and has poured out His grace on the world. Make every Sunday morning Easter Sunday morning and make your "hallelujah!" just a little louder this season.