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Thursday, March 6, 2014

A Reasonable Faith - All Paths Lead To God, Right?

            More than ever we live in a sound-bite world.  If you are going to compose a Twitter message (a “tweet”), you only have 140 characters to get your point across.  If you are going to do a Vine video, you have six seconds.  Snapchat can share pictures with others for just a few seconds and then be erased forever (unless your friend takes a screenshot before it disappears – beware!).      
What would Jesus tweet?  Or, if we want to create another best selling religious kitschy product – WWJT?
            How about this:  “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.”  That is 138 characters.  A little harsh – did Jesus really say that?  That just seems so, well, narrow!  (Yes, he did say that.  See Matthew 10:37)
            OK, then how about this:  Com 2 me all who labr & r hvy ladn & I will giv u rest. Take my yke on u & lrn frm me 4 I am gntle & lwly in hrt & u will find rest for yur souls.”  That is a tough one to tweet!  In fact, I went 6 over my limit of 140 characters even after doing a whole bunch of editing of words.  Jesus needs to be more to the point don’t you think?  I didn’t even get the best part in:  “For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”  (See Matthew 11:28-30).
            Is there anything Jesus said that is a great tweet, clear, concise, to the point?  Here’s one of his best – and it is only 88 characters long:  I am the way, and the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.”  Now, that is short, to the point, clear, concise – and exclusive.  (It comes from John 14:6.)
            Here is a dirty little secret – all religious beliefs and worldviews are exclusive.  They all make claims that they say are true and the truth, challenging us to accept or reject them.  Yes, even the atheistic worldview and a “tolerance” worldview is exclusive.  A statement like “All truth is relative” is an exclusive belief and is really saying, “All truth is relative – except my one statement that all truth is relative – that is an absolute truth.”  Huh?
            When you really look at what Jesus said, you will come to the conclusion that Jesus calls for a decision to be made.  His love is made available to all but it requires a choice to receive it or reject.  For God so loved the world that he gave his son…”  We like those words.  It is a great tweet with 47 characters left over!  But the words don’t end there, the message is incomplete to stop there.  “…that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”  (You'll find this in John 3:16.)
            Do all paths lead to God?  Yes they do.  But when you get to God, what is he going to say?  The historic, orthodox Christian faith believes God will say, “What did you do with my son, Jesus?  Did you believe in him?  Did you receive him?”
            And here is God’s tweet – it is  195 characters but that’s OK because he’s God, right?
“But to all who did receive [Jesus], who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.”  (That’s John 1:12-13)
            So, how about you?  What are you going to do with Jesus?  God is going to ask.

Peace and grace,

David

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