Think about that for a minute, no difference in the severity of sin? So lying to Aunt Milly about that broken flower pot is the same as stealing $1 million from a bank or committing adultery or killing someone? Jesus raised the standard when he equated hating to killing and lust to adultery. This seems terribly unfair doesn't it? But that's where we are different. Christians know when Judgement Day comes, we will stand before God and answer "guilty" when asked if we have sinned. And we know the consequences of that sin is figurative death or separation from the presence of God for an eternity. Let's not talk about the conditions in that place of separation for many opinions exist about the place we name Hell. For Christians, separation from God is our Hell!
We believe God's desire is for His creation to love Him and seek to be in His presence. But since we are sinners and God abhors sin, we will not be able to come to Him unless something is done. There had to be a way for our sins to be taken from us so that we can appear sinless before God. But how to do it once and for all time? How do it so that it did not have to be repeated. How to do it so it would cover all the sins of all the people who had lived, were living and would live in the future.
The "how to" is the difference between Christians and other religions. The apostle John was inspired to write the very simple and straight forward explanation. He wrote, "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." Go to the link for this passage and read the passage from The Message translation of the Bible. It is powerful.
Wow, that's simple. Is that all there is too it? Don't I have to "do" something. There is a very telling story in the Bible about Jesus and the two other people being crucified. One man cussed Jesus saying, "If you really are the Son of God, take us down from this cross." The other rebuked the first and then asked Jesus, "Remember me when you come into your Kingdom." Jesus replied, "Today, you will be with me in Paradise." The full story is in Luke's account of the crucification.
But the point to the story is as simple as John's statement. The man recognized Jesus as the Son of God and had faith enough to ask for Jesus to save him in eternity. The man sinned, he was being punished by the world for his sin, he expressed faith in Jesus, he asked for forgiveness and was given assurance that his sins would be forgiven. He did not have to be baptized, he did not have to attend church for a number of years, he did not have to give money to the poor, he did not have to witness to three other people, he did not have to "do" anything except recognize Jesus and believe (have faith) in Him.
On Judgement Day, when we answer "Guilty" to the charge of being a lifelong sinner, someone will step forward before sentence is passed. Jesus will say, "May I approach the bench, your honor?" "I know this man, he is one of my followers and I have already served the sentence for this man's sins. He is to be released into my care and protection." Then he will turn to me and say, "Welcome home!"
All that other stuff about religion is just that, Stuff! The first and only step is real simple, believe in Jesus! And you will have all the help you need!
Later posts will talk about that other stuff and why some people have a hard time making that first step. If you want to talk about it, call me at 615-477-8114 or email to firstname.lastname@example.org.