September 26, 2014

“Follow Me”

Those who don’t know much about religions will often say that one is as good as another, or that every religion is valid. Today’s devotional warns against the spiritual danger of being affected by this pluralism.

Since Christ saved me and came into my life, I’ve not been confused by those ideas, for which I am thankful. Yet I know people who think ‘everyone is okay’ and have no idea of the claims of Jesus Christ. If they did, they would need to make some changes in their thinking.

Two major claims come to mind, both from the same passage in Scripture. One is what Jesus said about the way to God and the other is about His identity. Both are unique. Both would startle those who accept pluralism.

Jesus was talking to His disciples about their fears and assured them that even though He was leaving them, He would come back and take them to where He was going. Thomas said, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?”

Jesus replied, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”

Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.”

Jesus responded, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves.” (John 14:5–11)

In this dialog, two claims are made: One is that Jesus said He is the only way to the Father. This flies in the face of those who claim that every religion is a way to God, a way of worshiping Him and a way of coming to Him for eternal life. Jesus says otherwise. He does not say, “I am A way” but “I am THE way” and NO MAN can come any other way.

The other claim is that He reveals God the Father. As Hebrews 1:3 says, “He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature . . .” The same thought is repeated several times in the Bible, including the statement in Colossians 1:15, “He is the image of the invisible God . . .”

Pluralists would struggle with this. I don’t, but I do have a related problem. I’ve been proud that I belong to the ‘only way’ and believe in the ‘only right way’ — and that faith is not wrong in itself, but my pride is sinful. I have no right to being smug because the Gospel negates pride. I did nothing to earn or deserve my salvation. I did nothing to earn or deserve Jesus Christ walking into my life. I am a sinner saved by grace. “God shows His love for me in that while I was still a sinner, Christ died for me.” (Romans 5:8, personalized) That is humbling, not reason for pride.

At the same time, the Gospel lifts me up, just as it is intended to do for all who believe it. In that joy of knowing Jesus, we have a wonderful message to pass on to others. No matter what they claim, no religion can claim salvation by faith in a man who is God in the flesh, who was crucified and rose from the dead, and who promises to return to earth and take His followers to the Father.

In fact, all other religions have a list of what people must do to get to God. Instead of God reaching down to save them, they must try their best to get to Him. If they are able to do everything required by their religion, it would produce pride, but none of us can keep even our own set of ‘rules’ for life. Realizing that is true should put every person on their knees before this Jesus. He replaced all those religious demands with only one: “Follow me!”

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