I was really inspired today by our pastor, Rob Singleton, as he spoke passionately about John 14:1-6. If there is any passage in the Bible that causes more confusion, anger, and arguments than that particular passage, I don’t know what it is. Here is the text:
“Do not let your hearts be distressed. You believe in God; believe also in me. There are many dwelling places in my Father’s house. Otherwise, I would have told you, because I am going away to make ready a place for you. And if I go and make ready a place for you, I will come again and take you to be with me, so that where I am you may be too. And you know the way where I am going.” Thomas said, “Lord, we don’t 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.” (NET)
This is not an easy passage for people to swallow, and it’s all because of that last verse. How many people bristle at “I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life.” Oprah, needing to correct Jesus, responds to this passage by telling her audience “Jesus is a way, and a truth, and a life, but not the way, the truth, and the life.” Wow. For others, like Eckart Tolle, we just sit back and listen as they redefine terms that we have used in Christianity for over 1900 years, such as salvation and sin. The terms get new meanings that have absolutely NOTHING to do with what they should. Barack Obama defines sin as “being out of line with my values.” Those who don’t speak aloud about their religious relativism do so with their car bumpers, as the world is literally filled with bumper stickers screaming for us to “Coexist”, or to have “Tolerance,” all of which are spelled out in cutesy manner using the symbolism of various world religions. In the West, and I think much of the world in general, we have slowly phased out absolute truth and replaced it with a brand of designer belief that replaces those truths that make us uncomfortable with our own versions of “truth” sanitized and sugar coated for our own well-being. Some of my own family members either deny the existence of Hell as eternal punishment or vehemently deny the goodness of a deity who would send people to Hell, stating instead that they “would rather spend eternity separated from someone so small minded and intolerant.” I still remember those words, because they sent me on my own journey through relativism. Why is this happening to us?
In American society, and western culture in general, we have created an environment where we value our choice. We place a far higher value on our autonomy than even the weight of truth. In a place where our autonomy and the truth collide, we tend to follow the path of our own autonomy. When we find difficulties in the Bible, rather than be accepting of truth, we instead decide that there must obviously be some other interpretation, or maybe it was meant only for people in that time, or some other ridiculous explanation. One of my own favorites, one that I have used (sadly and regrettably) is this: All roads lead to God, and all religions have some truth, so who are we to judge people of other faiths? In today’s America, this very line is the definition of tolerance, and failure to agree CAN and WILL lead to being branded intolerant. This is in keeping with our Designer Christianity, that fits in with the crowd, and offends no one, but is without substance and form.
I have a real problem with Designer Christianity, and I am speaking specifically to Christians who are willing to call themselves Christians and give themselves the names without making the sacrifice. I am speaking to the Oprahs of the world who have been shown the truth and deny it because it is unsavory in their minds. For a Christian to know that Jesus of Nazareth was crucified on a Roman cross after being scourged by men whose professions were to deal out death, and yet continue to deny the words of Christ that Jesus is “the way, the truth, and the life” is preposterous and ridiculous. How can you really think, for one moment, that God would put His only Son through THAT kind of horror, and then be so viciously unloving as to say “yeah, but hey, there are other ways into heaven. This whole ‘crucifixion’ thing is just for Christians, you do what you feel is right for you.” For those of you who deny the existence of Hell on the basis of its tastlessness, or deny the divine right of God to deliver justice as He sees fit, I have to say that if there is anyone unjust, it is not the “intolerant fundamentalist Christians.” It is inherently ridiculous and unreasonable to look upon the sacrifice of God’s Son and deny Jesus’ position as “the way, the truth, and the life” and still feel justified and evolved.
We have to stop living for designer Christianity. Following Christ is pretty exclusive. That tends to happen when there is only one way. We need to stop reaching for the choices, reaching for our own autonomy, and start living for what really matters. Jesus is not “a way, or a truth, or a life.” Jesus is the ONLY way. Give Him that respect.