February 27, 2009

Jesus: A Nice Way, Or The Only Way To God?

"I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." --Jesus Christ, in John 14:6

We are in the Lenten season. What are we celebrating?

For me, it is a time to celebrate having the way back to God. Traditionally and historically, Christians have believed Jesus Christ is the only way to God. I share this belief.

Some have said this perspective is arrogant and disrespectful of other cultural or historical traditions. Some have said we humans can never speak definitively of God's will or purposes. Some of said the words of the Holy Bible have been so compromised and manipulated over the centuries that we cannot fully rely on its teachings.

Lent is a time for me to think about what the life and death and resurrection of Jesus Christ means for me and for others.

Only God can bring us back to God. Jesus Christ, a unique person in history, was both human and divine, according to scripture. When you have been injured or offended, someone else cannot forgive the offender on your behalf. Only you can choose to forgive when you have been offended or hurt. Sin is an offense not only to other people and to ourselves, but also to God. Only God can forgive offenses against God. Only God can bring us back to God.

What of those who have never heard of Jesus? What of those who have never had a chance to read scripture or study His teachings? In Romans 2:13-16, the Apostle Paul answers these questions by explaining how those who have never heard about Jesus will be fairly judged by how faithfully they followed the standard of right living under which they lived. God's mercy (through Jesus' sacrifice) forgives those who have never heard the gospel but have tried to live honest, good lives.

Can we really rely upon what the Bible says about Jesus? I think we can have confidence in God's ability and willingness to preserve His written revelation. Have people tried to tamper with and distort God's Word? Yes, they have. I don't doubt God's power to keep his Word secure and available for those who are seeking to know Him. If you're just seeking an argument, well...you may miss something. If you are seeking to truly know God, God will empower you to know and communicate with Him.

Can anyone speak definitively of God's will? I've listened to those who say it's narrow-minded and self-important for anyone to think they can know the will of God. I'm not sure how they came to that conclusion. Certainly God, who created intelligent creatures in order to love and fellowship with us, has a reliable way of sharing His will and thoughts with us. I may not know God's will for another person's life, but I can know what God wants from me and expects of me. If I cannot know these things, what is the basis for my relationship with Him?

I need at least the full forty days of Lent to reflect upon and remember how much Jesus Christ did for me in reaching out and finding those of us who didn't know Him. He loves to find lost sheep and bring them home.

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