I've been spending a lot of time with Harry Potter lately.
If I could live in any fantasy or fictional world, it would be at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry as one of Harry's pals. A part of that comes from my hidden childhood desire to attend boarding school.. but add wands and magic and a sport played on broomsticks? I think I would excel there.
I'm currently rereading Harry's sixth adventure: the Half-Blood Prince. If you haven't followed HP's tale, he's the boy who lived. He survived the killing curse as an infant and he is learning now, as a seventeen year old, that it is his responsibility, his fate, to defeat this same villain. In a crucial scene, his headmaster Dumbledore is desperately trying to get Harry to understand that, despite Harry and the villain Voldemort's connections, he has something that Voldemort doesn't have, will never understand, and in the end will be his downfall:
"You have a power that Voldemort has never had.. Yes, Harry, you can LOVE.. You are protected, in short, by your ability to LOVE!"
HP and Voldemort have a bond, a fateful connection, that gives them many similarities. Their minds share thoughts (literally) and they have many of the same gifts. Yet one will save all of the wizarding world and the other is of the most evil. And what sets them apart, the biggest difference, is LOVE. Harry can love. His mother died to save him: her sacrifice has given him protection from evil. Love, which Dumbledore calls 'the most powerful of all magic,' is what separates Harry from his evil counterpart. It sets him apart and it saves him.
And that got my wheels turning.
I want Christianity to stand out: and sometimes I feel like it doesn't. Sometimes I feel like it just blends in with the rest of the world's religions. We sound like all the other followers of all the other beliefs: they're passionate about they believe in too, they're fervent: I wonder how to tell the difference between them and us. How do you keep Christianity from just becoming another idea of where we go when we die? How do we stand out?
I've learned and experienced and been redeemed lately to know there are tremendous differences: but it frustrates me when I feel like I can't articulate it. How do you convince someone that what you passionately believe in is, in the end, way better than what they believe in? What's the difference between us and them? How can I make us stand out?
And what I'm learning the answer is, what it always comes back to, is Jesus Christ.
No other religion has that.
And that makes the articulation of what sets us apart simpler to overcome. Because that is our difference: He is what makes us stand out. David Chadwick puts it this way: there are only two world religions: DO and DONE. Other religions preach that we've got to do, do, do.. and then do some more.. and there's still a pretty good chance we'll never reach that standard of perfection. But Christianity.. is GRACE. It's what Christ has DONE. David says it's either we do it on our own through our own righteousness OR God does it for you through the Cross. It's your choice.
And that choice comes in accepting Christ as Savior and standing out.
That Love and Grace are what separates us. And that can be easily shared (with the convincing not left up to me, but to the power of Christ): my story of how I've experienced and seen Christ work. The story of how I've made the choice and continue to make it every day.
The story of Christ.
It's as simple as that: Jesus. Just talk about Jesus.