Patricia Hofer

Christianity’s unique and special gift.

Have you ever wondered whether Christianity includes something unique, something that separates it from other world religions? When I wondered about this, a little research showed me that Christianity and the world’s other major religions are similar in one basic understanding—they recognize that our life here is not all that human beings are intended to be. And so each of these religions offer some kind of process for the elevation of who we are.

The difficulty with these behavior-based processes for improvement and elevation, from my Christian point of view, is that they depend wholly on self-effort and self-responsibility. And the sad reality is that, when we try to lift ourselves up, the selfishness of the natural man will all too often win the day—regardless of which religion we adhere to. Believers may choose to overcome sinfulness, temporarily, by pushing back natural impulses like greed or jealousy or competitiveness. But, left to struggle on alone, people often find their bad behaviors re-emerging in some way and overwhelming their best intentions.

Hannah Whitall Smith, describing the Christian dimension to this struggle, writes that the “purpose of God in our creation” is accomplished “by His working in us, and not by our working in ourselves.” The necessity, according to Smith is to “move our personalities, our egos, and our wills out of self and into Christ” (God of All Comfort 280, 271).

Then, as Jesus promises in John, his living spirit is an ever-present advocate and comforter, working with us and in us (see NRSV and KJ 14:15-20). Through Christ we come to know that we are not orphaned beings, laboring alone in the great battle between good and evil. Our elevation, our salvation, is an eternal blessing from God, a gift from Him through His Son to us. That, for me, is what makes Christianity so comforting and so special. (Yielding to Wonder, chapter 1)

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