This originally appeared as a weekly evo on whillschurch.org.
I was in a conversation a couple of weeks ago with a person who asked me – very genuinely – if I believed that Jesus was the only way people could get to Heaven. Our conversation was going so well up to this point. I almost hated to see it crash in such a spectacular way. I’ve only known this person for a short while and didn’t have a great handle on where they were with their faith. So I decided to ask some questions.
“After reading the teachings and words of Jesus, do you believe he was God or some kind of deranged lunatic?”
My new friend paused – “Are you seriously not going to answer my question?”
“No, no, no. I’m going to answer it but I want to take us on a quick journey to that answer. You’ve read the words of Jesus, you’ve done your research on the authenticity and reliability of the scriptures – tell me what you think?”
“I’m not sure where you are going with this.”
“Obviously. Okay – here’s the deal. I can’t deny the reliability of the scriptures we have are the scriptures Jesus read. I can’t deny that the Bible is the most investigated ancient document on the planet and it continues to be verified and confirmed by other sciences – archeology in particular. So I have to believe that Jesus’ words as recorded in the New Testament are accurate to what He really said.”
“Grant — you are nowhere near answering the question.”
“Stay with me. I’m closer than you think. What I wish or believe to be true about the theology of Jesus is irrelevant. On issues like this one – the exclusivity of Jesus – Jesus is pretty clear. He believed that He was the only way to the Father. John 14:6 – you can look it up. The disciples believed this as well.”
“Gotcha – so you believe it too? Doesn’t that make you kinda, well…narrow minded? Intolerant of others?”
“I believe Jesus. That’s the starting point. Now, if Jesus is wrong – then yes, He and I are narrow-minded, intolerant, liars. If Jesus is right, then it makes us the most honorable people on the planet. Right? It’s not narrow minded if it’s the truth. It’s saving lives.”
I think this thought escapes a lot of people on this topic. If I’m trusting Jesus with my soul, if Jesus was telling the truth in every other instance – why doubt him on this issue? It’s another case of people thinking they know more than God does. It’s not Jesus being intolerant or narrow-minded. It’s being truthful. And loving. It’s not loving at all to tell people what they WANT to hear if it ends up destroying them.
If I knew that all food was poisoned EXCEPT salad, am I being intolerant and narrow minded in telling people constantly – DO NOT EAT THIS FOOD, INSTEAD EAT SALAD? (Maybe I need to switch the analogy….) No. If I didn’t tell people – I’d be labeled a crook, a villain of the likes of Hitler – sending millions to their death simply because I didn’t tell them a life-saving truth that I knew and they didn’t.
If I walked around telling everyone I knew the dangers of all food except salad – and I was right – the words “narrow-minded” and “intolerant” would never be used. Words like – hero, honorable, caring, loving – those words would be thrown at me.
The analogy could go even a step further. Let’s say you don’t like salad. Neither do I. In fact, I pretty like only one kind of salad – Chicken Caesar Salad. Preferably blackened chicken. Great. If any other food is going to kill us – I have a feeling I could learn to love salad. Doesn’t really matter what I feel on the subject or believe at this point.
“I’m not sure I want to follow a person who thinks they are the only way.”
“Maybe….just maybe…you’re looking at this from the wrong perspective. I’d suggest that you first find out if Jesus can be trusted. Does he tell the truth? Is he honorable? Did he have another agenda? Don’t start with whether or not you LIKE what he says. Start with truth.”
We will see where we go from here.