We are now to Hebrews in our quick fly-over of the New Testament. The theme of Hebrews is “now we have a better covenant.”(See Heb 1:4, 7:22, 8:6 , 9;23, 10:34, 11:16, 11:40, 12>24>)The writer is comparing the new way through Jesus, the new covenant based on grace through faith, with the covenant God made through Moses, based on the Mosaic Law. Actually, that covenant was of grace too. The Jews understand it that way. Nevertheless, it requires the keeping of the law. Yet, we have better promises. We are required only to believer, to trust in, to rely on Jesus (Ep.2:8&9) and his finished work (jn7:14, Hb 4:3). And of course, that belief issues forth in good works (Ep2:10, Titus2:17). Indeed, Christ lives through us to do these good works (Gal2:21).
If the faith way of Jesus is better than that of the grace covenant brought to the people of Israel, how much more than the other ways to God offered. And lots better than nothing at all!
Hinduism has gurus who suggest that they can bring you back to union with God if you follow them through thousands of lifetimes. But how can you tell they are telling your the truth? Buddha said he did not know about the supernatural, but will offer you right living now. Even should you find someone who actually teaches what Buddha actually taught, and doesn’t mix it with stuff Buddha didn’t know about, can you really follow that? The best Buddhist students I know of stay in their room on the day they promise not to hurt anything. In Islam, you will find out just after you die if your good deeds outweigh your bad deeds. Trouble is that many verses in the Koran contradict others. What is taught as the path toward the best reward sound to everyone else as doing what is most bad, most universally condemned. You know: the seven virgins on seven sheet thing. After you left your body, remember. Then there are some animist ways, which in the USA are idealized from movies about Native Americans, however, from Asia and Africa where people follow these ways, we hear of stories of gross fear and degradation. (I am reading about them in Mountain Rain from China and Burma, but I am hearing stories from my students today. They are afraid of demons attacking them, and not without experience.)
God’s way of love, peace and joy, based on Jesus’ finished work, taken by faith, and walked out with a community sounds like the best offer to me!
So you think that Christianity makes you do a lot of stuff?!?!?!?! Poppycock. How would you like to have no path and just have to figure out what works? That is not good. How would you like to have a way of acesticism, following some guru through thousands of lifetimes — maybe? How would you like a religion that sees women as chattel? and violence as a way to heaven? How is Buddhism working out in the lands where it is regnant? For all the good claims of Buddhsim, for which it is loved in the US, like compassion and peace, how does it look like in the army of Myanmar? Or the passivity of the orders in China? Or the prosperity and restraint in the rest of Asia?
That is a very personal argument. Christianity gives guidance, restrains the community from harming the individual, gives the best offer with the least requirements — by far. It is only logical to follow.
Let’s use the sociological argument. Where in the world did equality, democracy, and economic prosperity arise? In the specifically Christian world. See Rodney Stark’s sociological history the Victory of Reason for a fulsome explanation.
Another sociological argument is : where are women treated the best? Liberalism came from Christianity.
Jesus makes the best offer. It is only reasonable to follow Him. Christianity is the community that makes the most sense, even allowing for faults of the actual people in it, even with it’s organizational blunders. It is the better covenant.
To go one/s own way, with no path, is crazy. To suggest that you shouldn’t take part in restraining yourself, is a fool’s errand, because then you will live with others who don’t restrain themselves. Or you will be entirely by yourself. If demons and goblins are frightening, then why not ally with the great good power that dominates them and sweeps them away? If you can’t understand all religions, then why not accept the one that is so simple?
Use reason. Or is your reasoning capacity so perverted by your lies that you don’t see this? Then use heart. Feel Jesus’ heart, and your friends, reaching out to you. Or has your heart not been formed to distinguish between good and bad? Isn’t that scary? Do you want to be without love? To be hard-hearted? To be confused? You must choose, because to not choose is to choose. Choose life. Choose the better covenant.
It is an amazing thing that the God of all good, all love, all truth, would want to have a covenant with you, a mere mortal. Choose life. Choose good. Choose love. Follow Jesus.