Others Faiths & Christ


This is the first of a series of meditations I’ve dubbed You Choose. A few weeks ago, I asked folks to give me their questions, scriptural passages, and topics for me to reflect upon Sunday. I got a few responses. It’s not too late if you want to add your own, but the first question I’d like to reflect on comes from a question regarding non-Christian religions and how they fit into the Christian idea of salvation. Are the faithful of other religions saved? Do faithful Buddhists go to heaven, for example? If so, how? Where does Christ fit in if, using our example, faithful Buddhists indeed go to heaven?

Great questions, yes?

Whenever a topic like this comes up, an ardent Christian based in the more traditional version of the Christian faith, one of our born-again Evangelical siblings, for example, will recite John 14:6 – I am the way, the truth, the life, no one comes to the Father but by me.

In other words, only Christ saves. Unless Christ is involved, the non-Christian faithful are doomed, the idea goes. The Bible says so, our Evangelical brother or sister would say.

Now, I don’t wholeheartedly agree with this approach. But I do think we must account for Christ as Christians if we are to consider the Bible as authoritative. Maybe you don’t consider the Bible as authoritative. That’s fine. But I start from this point this morning. I consider the Bible to be authoritative for Christians.

At the same time, I believe those of faiths outside of Christianity will be included in God’s kingdom.

A faithful, loving Buddhist; a faithful, loving Muslim; a faithful, loving Samaritan are included in God’s kingdom. At the same time, Christ is involved in this inclusion. Both can be true, and are true for me.

To show how this works, I introduce a couple John 3:16’s, one you know, the other probably not.

The gospel of John, chapter 3, verse 16, says what? For God so loved the world, that he sent his only son that whosoever believes in him, should not perish but have everlasting life. This is the central Christian teaching. Belief in Christ saves us from perishing and allows us everlasting life.

That word belief, though, we should understand it more fully. The word in Greek is pistis, and it is better translated as “entrust oneself to.” Whosoever entrusts oneself to Christ will not perish… 

Another note about John 3:16, it was said and was true before the Cross. Jesus has not been crucified yet, right? That happens in John 19.

But the love that Christ has for all was there in John 14. The greatest love willing to lay down his life to save, that was there in John 14. The utter selflessness of Christ was there in John 14. It is this selfless love that gives way to the Cross. It is this selfless love that saves.

Entrusting oneself to this selfless love means everlasting life.

Here’s another John 3:16 that makes this even clearer. I’m referring to I John 3:16. I John 3:16 says, “We know love by this, that Christ laid down his life for us.”

In other words, God is love and so is Christ. Christ is love. In the Christian story, with Jesus, love became flesh and blood and dwelled among us. In Jesus, love laid down his life for us.

The essence of Christ Jesus should never be mistaken or ignored. The essence of Christ Jesus is Love. And Love in essence is self-sacrificial. Jesus as love could not help but lay down his life for us. That’s what perfect love does.

Let me say that again because it is so, so important. The essence of Christ is Love. And Love in essence is self-sacrificial. Love lays down all for us.

I John 3:16 helps us to rephrase John 3:16 this way:

Love so loved the world that Love sent us Love in the form of Christ Jesus. Whosoever entrusts oneself to Love will not perish but have everlasting love and life.

To put it in the simplest and purest terms, Love… Love, self-sacrificial by nature, saves us.


As for the faithful Buddhists, the faithful Muslims, the faithful Samaritans, or even the faithful agnostics among us, whosoever entrusts oneself to love will not perish but have everlasting life.


Maybe all of this is too complicated… I know I can get too nuanced and philosophical for my own good. So let me put it this way.

God is love as is Christ. Whoever is truly loving indicates to me that God, Christ, Love is in them. They might know it. They might not even accept those terms. But that’s fine. Whoever is truly loving - period - is good in God’s eyes. For God knows the heart after all.

What about the Cross, you ask. To close this meditation, I say this:

The Cross is the perfect portrait of the greatest love. Love itself, in the form of Christ, laid down his life for friends. What a greater love than this?

And love’s selfless sacrifice on the cross transforms those who encounter that love. For those crushed by the world, those weighed down by life, those struggling with the way of selfless love and forgiveness, that encounter with love embodied on the cross can transform us, remake us, and turn us around. Breathing this love in, we are changed from the inside out. This love working through us, we can’t help but to be loving ourselves.

And I say it again – love saves! All that is not love, well, it is finished. The Cross assured us of that.


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