February 27, 2012

The Way Out

Imagine being in a burning building, confused by smoke and not knowing the way out. Someone comes up and says, “I’ve worked for six years here in this building. We go up and left. Follow me.”

Right then, another person approaches. He says, “I designed and built this building. The only way out is down and to the right. Follow me.”

Many religious systems claim to be the right one or the only one. Some are classified as a sect that deviates from a more traditional form. These may call themselves Christian but have abandoned traditional Christian beliefs, even the Bible as their final authority. 

I’m not sure about the basis for those exclusive claims. A group comes to mind that claims their founder had a vision. Another is told that their organization provides the only way to God seemingly because their leaders find this helps them have a good hold on their fearful adherents. Whatever the reasons, I’ve always been told to watch out for those religions that claim they are the only true way to God. 

Yet I’ve learned that those who say there are many ways to God are just as dangerous. Even logic says that two opposite views cannot both be correct (unless they come from two blind men both describing what they can touch on the opposite ends of an elephant). Even if they sound good or are obviously faulting, all these claims can be confusing.

From examining the voices out there, my decision about the way to God is not based on any teaching from others or the claims that they might make. I follow Jesus He made the building. He created the universe. He did what no man can do — besides miracles of healing and turning water into wine, He died for the sins of the world, was buried, and after three days rose again. Not only that, it was not His followers but Jesus who made the claim . . .
I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (John 14:6)
Jesus also made promises. One of them is that those who believe would experience conviction of sin, confession, repentance, and then forgiveness, freedom from guilt, and ever-increasing victory over sin. He also said that His followers would receive answers to prayer, peace with God, and fullness of joy.
He kept all those promises giving me reason to doubt that He will keep this one about being the way (not a way) to the Father. 

Christians have been accused of being dogmatically exclusive, yet it isn’t our idea. Jesus made this “no one except” statement. He claimed to be the way, the only way. Yet He made another one that takes the exclusive out of faith in Him. He said,
I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live. (John 11:25)

Lord, I’ve been particularly amazed this week that You save anyone. We are sinners stumbling around in the smoke of our self-centeredness and sin. By ourselves, there is no way out. Many simple will follow the first person that comes along making a claim that sounds good. Yet like the creator of a burning building, You know more about our need regarding sin than we do, and certainly more about the way out. In fact, You simply invite us to take hold of Your nail-scarred hands and You become the Way for us.

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