First, I would like to state that Christianity is not a religion. Many hear that and say, “How can you say that?” When you google Christianity, it pops up in the search engine as a religion. In order for you to understand just how wrong the search engine is, as are many who call themselves Christians, let’s give the general definition of what the term religion means, then I will give you the Jordan Wells version. A religion, as defined by the world or un-churched, is an organized collection of beliefs, cultural systems, and world views that relate humanity to an order of existence. Many religions have narratives, symbols, and sacred histories that aim to explain the meaning of life, the origin of life, or the universe. My definition of religion is similar: man trying to work his way to God, trying to find God. Religion puts God at the top of a pyramid, and man is trying to climb up this mountain that is unreachable. Religion is always based on human works and ability. Like the Muslims who are told that Allah does not love us or that we cannot truly have a relationship with him. In their belief, we are just pieces in the puzzle of his creation, nothing more. In Islam, they have no assurance of salvation. The only way to have this is by committing Jihad, which is to kill oneself in the name of Allah. Before I began studying religions, I wondered why, in these Muslim countries, were there women shouting as they strap bombs to their babies’ chests, yelling, “In the name of Allah!” This is called Jihad. They are also told how many times to pray a day; a lot of rules and restrictions, and still they cannot be sure that when they die, they will be saved. In Buddhism, there is no God. This belief has no order, and the very name comes from Buddha, who was an atheist. Hinduism, which is involved in the worship of animals, believes in reincarnation. This way of thinking is spreading in America, while in India, Jordan Wells 56 Christianity is spreading like fire, to the extent that persecution of believers is the only way to stop the spread of Christ. According to some estimates, there are roughly 4, 200 religions in the world. You might hear that and say, “Then what makes Jesus different?” You might think that in the back of your mind, even if you were raised in church, or maybe you heard about Jesus but nobody could ever truly answer this one important question about what truly sets him apart from the thousands of beliefs in the world. Truthfully, there are only five beliefs, which are the dominant views in our world. First, like I talked about, is Islam, which is estimated as the world’s second largest religion. According to a 2010 study released on January 2011, Islam has 1.57 billion adherents, making up over 23 percent of the world’s population. According to the Pew Research Center in 2015, there were fifty Muslim-majority countries, most being in the Middle East. ISIS is true Islam. This is how Islam spreads—through force, convert or die, going all the way back to Muhammad, who is the key figure of Islam. Then there’s Hinduism, which claims over one billion Hindus or followers. Hinduism is the world’s third largest belief: 97 percent of all Hindus live in three Hindu-majority countries—India, Nepal, and Mauritius, according to a study. Then there’s Buddhism, which many group with the Hindu belief, but they are very different in their beliefs. In Hinduism, they have over 330 million or “33 crore” deities. While estimates vary between 200–500 million adherents, the generally agreed number of Buddhists is estimated at around 350 million (6 percent of the world’s population). This makes Buddhism the world’s fourth largest (in terms of number of adherents) religion. Then there’s Judaism, which is held by Orthodox Jews living around the world, most, however, living in Israel. Jesus would be considered a Jew, Christianity came from this belief. They use the Old Testament as their Bible. While dozens of countries host at least a small Jewish population, the community is concentrated in a handful: Israel and the United States account for 83 percent Experiencing God for the First Time 57 of the Jewish population, while a total of eighteen countries host 98 percent. Now remember that mountain that I talked about, where God is so beyond the scope of relationship? This is the case in all these beliefs except one. I am now going to talk about Christianity, which is the fastest growing and most widely-held belief in the world. You would not be reading this if you were not considering or giving thought to this Christianity thing. “As of 2010, Christianity was by far the world’s largest religion, with an estimated 2.2 billion adherents, nearly a third (31 percent) of all 6.9 billion people on Earth,” the Pew report says. The biggest percent being in America, and from the statistics, it would say about eighty-three percent of Americans identify themselves as Christians. Most of the rest, 13 percent, have no religion. That leaves just 4 percent as adherents of all non-Christian religions combined—Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, and a smattering of individual mentions. However, this is far from the truth; many Americans and people all over the world have forgotten who Jesus really is and what he taught. Jesus of Nazareth has been replaced by Jesus of America. I would say if Jesus walked into most of the churches in America and preached a sermon, he would be labeled a heretic and asked to never return. If Jesus got on many of our top Christian networks, he would be censored for calling out by name many of who we consider the top Christian leaders. We have turned Jesus into a religion. In the next few chapters, we will be meeting the real Jesus, not the Jesus of America. But the original Jew, Jesus of Nazareth. But back to what sets Jesus apart—it is truth and relationship. First, even looking back at the mythology of the Greeks, such as Zeus and many others, the gods looked at man as beneath them, weak and of no importance. They demanded worship sacrifice, but that’s where their relationship stopped with mankind. This is the case with the thousands of world beliefs. But Jesus is first, not just a man, as we will discover in the next few chapters. Jesus was the very God of creation, who spoke the world into being. That being said, Jesus, whose very Jordan Wells 58 name is Emmanuel, which means “God with us.” This God who created, however, so loved the world that he wrapped himself in flesh and was born into a sinful world, born of a virgin, which was predicted in the Old Testament hundreds of years before he was born. He became flesh to have a relationship with you and me. Wow, so you are telling me that instead of doing all these religious workouts, God did all the work for me? This is exactly what I’m telling you. Jesus came down from that mountain I talked about just for you. Man sinned against him in the garden, yet he loved you so much, he just had to rescue you from yourself. That’s why Jesus makes all the religions of the world look like old news. His death on the cross, which, after this victory, he declared its finish. This is why it’s called the Good News; those words it’s finished meant all the religious stuff he finished on the cross. He paid for your rebellion with his own blood, he saved you from hell. You were falling down the pit of eternal damnation, but Jesus grabbed you before you reached the bottom. But he not only grabbed you, but after he grabbed you, he hugged you in his loving arms, and said, “Welcome home.” After reading this, you are probably blown away because you now want to know who this Jesus really is because you have been lied to by the church. Who is this Jesus?
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