'Religion is man searching for God, Christianity is God seeking man.' - Martyn Lloyd Jones
I saw this recently on Twitter. It's good since it sums up the main difference between Christianity and all the other religions of the world.
There is a famous anecdote that has been told in numerous books about C.S. Lewis entering into a debate of faculty members at Cambridge University where he used to teach. They were discussing with much difference of opinion the aspects of Christianity that made it unique from all the other world faiths. "That's easy," said Lewis, "Grace."
Grace is a small word and a much misunderstood word, but a word with big meaning. What he meant by grace wasn't a girls name, or the prayer of gratitude we say around meal times. Grace is the message of the Bible, it's the idea that God, a good, holy, sovereign and perfect God chooses to not only forgive but to be kind to people who are rebellious, hard-hearted and anti-God. Grace is God showering rebels with favour.
The things is, our best efforts of God-seeking fall far short of his glory. In the same way that a toddler's attempt to paint a landscape fails to capture any of the actual likeness, so our religiosity and goodness do God a terribly disservice.
Some people try really hard to keep rules, adhere to traditions and make all kinds of resolutions. Those people need to hear the truth behind the opening quote. In Christianity we see God seeking us out. God draws near to us just as we are with all of our shortcomings. Since none of our goodness is ever good enough, we have to hear this, we need this to be true.
Other people think that they are so far beyond the pale, their lives so screwed up, their heads so messed up that God would want nothing to do with them, that the church is no place for them to be found. They need to get to grips with grace. Grace is getting what we don't deserve. Grace is unreasonable and grace goes against every human instinct to want to earn our way into happiness or favour. Grace is God saying through the sacrificial death of his son - I love you I choose you I like you. Grace is God saying 'you are welcome to come near.'
People need to hear this. Religion doesn't work, grace does. Religion can't help you, Jesus can. Living to impress God and working hard to be loved by him, misses the point.
God is seeking you out because he loves you and wants relationship with you period.