The other day, I got into a conversation with a friend of mine who asked me that very question. My response was almost immediate: ‘Because the Bible is about a God whom we cannot please.’
Think about it. Every other religion on the planet (as far as I know) says ‘You have to do good works in order to get right with God’. Judeo-Christianity says the opposite: ‘Good works are meaningless because human beings are sinful to the core’. You can do all the good works that there are, it’s not going to get you right with God, because even our best works are tainted by sin.
What human author would make up a religion like that?
What human author would make up a religion that says, ‘All you need is to trust, love, and believe in God; everything good will spring from that’? You can’t see God, you can’t touch God, you’re hard-pressed to see God’s hand in action (at least at the moment it acts – most times we see God’s hand in hindsight). You may feel something, such as peace, joy, and tranquility when you probably shouldn’t – as in the case of suffering through a trial – but that’s hard to explain to other people.
Now, you may argue that in the Old Testament, God set up worship of Himself which involved voluminous sacrifices and rituals. Yes, He did. Doesn’t that mean that He expects and demands that people do things in order to please Him? Nope. Here’s why: when God set up the tabernacle – and then the temple – and laid down His laws, note that when it comes to sacrifices they were in one form or another very costly. That cost is important, because those sacrifices were symbolic of how sinful the people were – God demanded the best of whatever the people had for sacrifices in order to show them that sinfulness was pricey. Those sacrifices were also a substitute for the only thing which would have sufficiently paid the cost of human sin – the lives of the sinners. And the fact that the sacrifices were continual, and had to be made over so many things, showed the people that the sacrifices alone didn’t save them from their sinfulness – they had to keep sacrificing because they kept on sinning.
Then God sent His Son to be the final, best, most perfect sacrifice of all for sins – for the sins of every person on the planet. And that man – Jesus of Nazareth, the Messiah, the Christ – reminded the people of what God really wanted from them: love, trust, and belief. From those three things would spring good works and lives pleasing to God.
Christianity is both easy and very hard: it’s easy in that Christians don’t have to sacrifice animals at a temple, they don’t have to follow dietary laws, they don’t have to follow precise rituals of cleanliness or precise rituals of worship. It’s hard because, well, we don’t have to follow all those strictures; it’d be much easier, at least mentally, if we could simply follow rituals and the like; we’d have some sort of mental ease in knowing that we were ‘doing everything right’.
Christianity is also difficult because we’re to believe in a Man – Jesus – whom we can’t see or touch; our only evidence of His life and words is found in the records of the people who followed Him (the New Testament) and in some extra-biblical works. It’s much easier to trust in someone whom you’ve seen and experienced, isn’t it, compared, to, say, reading about him or her in a book.
Again, I ask, what human being would create a religion like that?