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How Is Christianity Unique From Religion?
Christianity is unique from religion. With religion, you have to act "religious", that is, you must follow a proscribed set of rules in order to gain acceptance or salvation from a deity. You have to attend a certain temple or holy place. You have to achieve certain good works. You have to pray a set of prayers or chants or even perform dances. If you do these things, you earn salvation, or elevate yourself to a god or god-like status.
Christianity is unique in that you can do nothing to earn acceptance or salvation. It is a gift of grace. You simply ask for it.
If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved. (Romans 10:9,10)
This is not to say that your works do not matter if you are a Christian. They matter a great deal, as countless verses in the Bible tell us, but good works come after salvation. With religions, the good works come first and salvation follows. In Christianity, salvation comes first, then good works follow, born out of love and fear of the God that gives us our salvation. To put it another way, people are religious to elevate themselves to God (or gods). In Christianity, God stoops down and elevates man to Himself.
Though most Christians go to church, you could actually never set foot inside a church building or other designated place of worship and be more Christian in God's eyes than someone who goes to church everyday! That's because being a Christian is not about how often you go to church or where you go to church, it is about obedience to God.
You can go to church four times a week, you can sit in the front row, sing hymns with your hands raised, put lots of money in the offering, volunteer to clean the church, be involved in ministries and so on, but if you are not obeying God in your everyday life, it is all worthless, it does not matter.
I hate all your show and pretense—the hypocrisy of your religious festivals and solemn assemblies. I will not accept your burnt offerings and grain offerings. I won’t even notice all your choice peace offerings. Away with your noisy hymns of praise! I will not listen to the music of your harps. Instead, I want to see a mighty flood of justice, an endless river of righteous living. (Amos 5:21-24)
This passage also shows us a distinction between acting religious and being a Christian.
You should know this, Timothy, that in the last days there will be very difficult times. 2 For people will love only themselves and their money. They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred. 3 They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control. They will be cruel and hate what is good. 4 They will betray their friends, be reckless, be puffed up with pride, and love pleasure rather than God. 5 They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. Stay away from people like that! (2. Timothy 3:3-5)
True Christianity is unique because it is predicated on your obedience to God's commands, not on how "religious" you act.
Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you. (James 1:27)