Jesus said “I am the way, the truth and the life and no one can come to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). All religions offer a different way to God. Each has their own specific religious doctrines, rituals, rules and practices that will bring full acceptance with God and admission into a glorious eternal destiny. Studying these religions in detail reveals radical and contradictory differences in their approach to God as well as the very nature of God. But one thing is the same. They all count on the effort, performance, obedience, dedication and behavior of their adherents. These religions all focus their attention on what we must do to enter into the glorious presence of God. Unfortunately, even evangelical Christianity has defaulted into focusing on our behavior rather than on the one and only path to God. The default in all of us is “works of the law.” It doesn’t even matter what law you subscribe to, they are all the same. They will all end in failure. This is what the author of Hebrews is explaining when he speaks of the eternal Priesthood of Jesus. Hebrews 7:18-19 says, “For on the one hand, a former commandment is set aside because of its weakness and uselessness (for the law made nothing perfect); but on the other hand, a better hope is introduced, through which we draw near to God.”

If you listen to even the best sermons, you often find them tainted by exhortations to try harder, become more dedicated, and a number of other unsustainable practices. The focus becomes on what we do, rather than on what God did. We get a lot of pep-talks and lessons on living better lives. We are manipulated by the promises of prosperity or the threats of judgment from our pulpits and from our literature. But we Americans like it! We seem to default to the maxims of self-effort: “if it’s to be, it’s up to me” and many more. Like the followers of Jesus in his day, we all want to do the “works” of God to prove our worth. But Jesus responded to this way of thinking in John 6:29 stating, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.”

Every religion has a format by which we relate to God based on our own merits! Jesus did not come to establish a different or better format we can use that will give us more chances to relate to God on the basis of our improved behavior. Instead. he has come to fulfill every standard by his own life. Jesus had to come to fulfill those standards for us because everyone of us has failed them.  The Good News is that we no longer need to appeal to God based on our own slip-shod merit. We now “believe in the one that God has sent” and appeal to God on the basis of Jesus’ merit only. This is the uniqueness of Christianity. In focusing our attention on our own righteousness, we demean the person and work of Jesus and bring Christianity down to the level of being just another religion with its demands, rituals and precepts. Jesus is really our only hope and that’s why the author of Hebrews says in these verses that in Jesus “a better hope is introduced, through which we draw near to God.”