- Religion and Philosophy»
- Exploring Religious Options
What Was Jesus Thinking?
One evening, after breaking bread with his friends, Jesus of Nazareth said: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
According to present sensibilities that statement is obviously false. It is far too exclusive; it might even qualify as hate-speech in some circles.
After all, our multicultural society has many different religions that are practiced with equal devotion.
Who’s to say whether a particular religious tradition has the market cornered on salvation?
Shouldn’t we live and let live; allow each group to carve out its niche in the religion market?
Only one pathway to God?
What was Jesus thinking?
A Difficult Barrier
Christianity is not a religion; it is a relationship - which is not splitting linguistic hairs with generally held beliefs. It is timeless truth that cannot be changed regardless of how much deconstruction and reconstruction of language occurs.
All the world’s religions are human attempts to achieve emotional security by coming to terms with our supernatural spiritual dimension.
Christianity stands by itself because by its tenets, peace with God has nothing to do with human endeavors. Rather, it is God reaching down to provide the redemption that escapes our efforts.
People are not unsophisticated. Everyone has a rudimentary awareness of God for he has “set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.”
We are born with an elementary understanding of God and sin; we all need guidance and grace moving to the place of accepting Christ as Savior. More often than not, religion is a difficult barrier to breach.
In our arrogance, we go to extreme lengths to transform the freedom of the good news into the bondage of religiosity. In doing so, we shroud its universal appeal to satisfy the deepest longings of the human heart.
Can customs & rituals be used as bricks to build barriers that exclude people?
Jesus Loves Me
Our yearning for forgiveness, purpose, significance, love and community are found in the simple gospel message. Jesus bore our sins; he suffered the penalty we deserved. He paid an anguished price to accomplish atonement that is offered to every individual as a free gift.
Christ is the only bridge that can span the chasm to reconnect us to God. Jesus died for us not because he had some high hopes for who we are or what we would be. On the contrary, he died for us in obedience to the Father and because he knew exactly who we are and what we would be without him.
“Jesus loves me, this I know…” It cannot get any clearer than that, but we complicate the issue. Institutionalized Christianity routinely holds up a variety of hoops for us to jump through in order to maintain religiously correct appearances.
However, from ancient times onward there is no ambiguity about what concerns God: “Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”
Religion cares about outward appearance; it becomes consumed with keeping customs and rituals that have no impact on our heart-attitude. What pleases God is hearts attuned to him.
That is what Jesus Christ was talking about. He came to be the way by which we can establish relationship with God. His destruction of death allows human beings to be in direct connection with the Creator of the universe.
Paul of Tarsus wrote: “There is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men.”
The point is that we do not need another person - no matter how steeped in symbolism or piety - to intercede for us before God. As his children, we can go openly to God, knowing that Christ alone has the righteousness to reconcile us.
“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” A far too exclusive statement; what was Jesus thinking?
Jesus also said: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” God so loved the world is inclusively inclusive; whoever believes is an inclusive invitation.
Truth & Life
The onetime carpenter and wandering rabbi from an obscure village said what he said. The theologians of relativism will continue to debate, discuss and dissemble his assertions.
In the process the words used will take on whatever definitions are required to make their arguments sound weighty or legitimate. Nowadays, meanings seem to be in constant flux, but with increasing intensity the empirical evidence for Christ transcends intellectual machinations.
The verdict of eternity will be that Jesus of Nazareth was who he claimed to be; God in the flesh. The empty tomb is final confirmation; the historical reality of the resurrection magnifies the awesome mystery of the incarnation.
The promise found swaddled in Bethlehem’s cradle was fulfilled when Christ shattered the chains of sin and death. He is not legend or myth: He is alive, real and relevant. And Jesus still changes lives today for he remains “the way and the truth and the life.”
- Wanted Man
Wanted Man a.k.a. Ken R. Abell, seeks to be a blessing to others. He's a rake, a rambler, and a teller of tales who understands that there is strength in a story well told and well lived. To learn more, inquire or schedule him, visit this web site.
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