A great conversation with a very intelligent coworker brings me here. The idea we discussed comes up often in life and it’s worth talking about, I think. We have so many questions, so many things we can’t reconcile alone. But we seek because we want to find. We worry because there’s something to worry about. I am Christian. When I say that, I mean that I believe without compromise that the Lord Jesus Christ has died on the cross for my sins, was raised again after three days, called me, saved me, and that there is hope for me in nothing else. As a result I believe without compromise the teachings of the Bible, that written communication between us and the Creator of, you know, everything. And that requires me to believe that everyone else is wrong. But because people who disagree with Christianity are not crazy, they find my viewpoint to be incredibly presumptuous, prideful, arrogant. From their perspective, it seems that I just have to be right, that that’s what my goal is, at the expense of the rest of the world.
So why am I insistent, and how can I convince you that, in regards to this, being right for its own sake is the last thing on my mind? (Hint #1. I can’t convince you.)
The question I hear goes something like, “Why must you be completely right, which, if true, results in the condemnation of every religion and thought contrary to yours? And how, (HOW?) can you be right when there are people who never hear of your God?”
That last one, that’s a good one.
I’ll start with the first. Multiple paths to God can’t work. We’ve got a bunny behind a curtain. One teacher talks about a bunny that’s brown, has really floppy ears, a pink nose. Teacher two talks about a bunny that’s brown, has really floppy ears, a brown nose. Teacher three talks about a bunny that’s brown, has really floppy ears, a black nose.
There’s a bunny behind the curtain in all cases. The bunny’s nose is brown. The actual bunny, behind the curtain. His nose is brown. It is brown. I know this because I can see behind the curtain (we’re pretending, here). No conjecture concerning the color of the bunny’s nose changes the actual color of the nose of the actual bunny behind the curtain. The bunnies spoken of are similar, but they cannot be said to be the same.
I’ve got a point, there. The religions of this world do not agree on the description of God. They just don’t. So He is who He is, regardless of our ideas of Him.
God is who He is. The bunny behind the curtain is the bunny behind the curtain. Perspective doesn’t actually alter truth. If you take out my eyes there are still things to see, if I believe that I am a unicorn I am still a human. God is God. . The very fact that at least one religion claims to be the only way makes multiple paths a logical impossibility, for at least one really good reason: multiple paths only make sense if the destination is the same. And religions don’t agree on that either. So you’ve got one guy saying that this yellow brick road leads to Oklahoma, another saying that his leads to Tennessee, and another saying that all roads lead to Kansas. If all roads really do lead to Kansas, then there is no reason in ever taking one of the difficult roads, ever, and we might as well all live like Ted Bundy, seeking personal pleasure above all else.
If all roads lead to Kansas.
But you know that doesn’t make sense, don’t you?
The right road? You just want to know which one it is. You want to know it, without a shadow of a doubt. Because that’s easiest. And that’s what I can’t give you. If the answer to life was to be found with the explicitness of 2+2=4, none of us would ever argue about anything and the culmination of perfection would have already occurred. What I’m saying is that asking me to prove God to you is asking the impossible. The real kicker is this: you cannot know God without Him. To know God, to know God, He must make Himself known to you. You can do nothing to save yourself. Your hope for salvation is in Him alone. Your hope in believing in Him is in Him alone. Your hope in having faith in Him is in Him alone. You cannot pray your way into the kingdom, and you cannot work your way into the kingdom. How then can you be saved? He must save you. And what shall you do? Turn from your sin, and look to the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. Believe. If you are able to do that, know that He has already done saving work for you. And if those things did happen, He will also complete that work in you.
Disagree with me if you must on my religion, but know there are consequences. They are not temporal, but eternal. At the name of Jesus every knee will one day bow, either in joyful worship or in hopeless humility. We will all be humbled. That is a certainty. He has already broken me (and He continues to do so, thankfully). Remain unbroken and remain damned.
But I hope He gives you humility, repentance, and belief, because my inheritance is pearly gates encircling golden streets and inhabited by people who have lost their old, harmful ways and been clothed (by grace!) with all that is right and good instead. But the greatest gift by an incalculable amount? It is communion, for the first time since that first separation, full and perfect communion with the One who shaped my very soul.
But why would a God like that not be concerned with being accessible to the whole world? What about those who died before hearing of Him? Well, I know that He certainly is concerned with that. One, He says so. And that’s consistent with what His word says. Why do you think missionaries exist? Because God is very, very, very concerned with that. Besides all of those thoughts, recall this foundational point: the Lord does not lose His sheep. He alone saves. Missionaries do not save. But they do, by His grace also, partake in His work. So my worry stops there with those who are already gone, but is sparked anew for those who are still here. And isn’t that the whole idea? I ought to work.
So if you’re here, and you’ve heard, He’s already done that for you. That’s what this is. Every person who asks that question, that very disconcerting question, has already had the lifesaver thrown out to them, but instead of taking it, they ask, “But what about those who didn’t get one?” Well, instead of further theorizing, grab it, use it to make it to the boat, and toss it back out to that person you were worried about. If in fact you have heard, at all.
So I won’t hold on tightly to the sides of my boat and tell you, in the water, that you’re fine when I believe you’re not. How much would I have to hate you if I did that? If I really believe that you’ll drown, how can you ask me to lie to you and tell you you’ll be okay? I can’t. Because I want you there on those streets with me more than I want your approval, your agreement, your love. And I want those things! I want those, too. But having those here often means direct disobedience to the God who saved me from eternal death. The approval or love of no man is worth that to me.
God is God and I am not. The one I believe in says there’s one path to Him. That if you try any other way, when you get to those gates, He’ll say that He never knew you, to depart from Him. He really says that, that He will not let you in unless you are called, repent, believe, and come through Jesus. And we need Him! Jesus – we need Him. Because we are flawed, we are hopeless, we are stained with our past. With one man, sin entered the world. With one man, the only one who was able to be perfect until His death, that curse is able to be reversed. The Lord alone changes hearts. We in turn repent and believe. And then there is saving faith, adoption into the promises made to Abraham’s seed – the Lord Jesus!
Please don’t wait.