"I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." (John 14:6)
To many non-believers, that statement makes Christianity smack of exclusivity. "You mean to tell me that I can only get in to Heaven if I believe a certain way, and it has to be your way?"
While there is only one way to gain access to God - through Jesus Christ - there are as many ways to Jesus as there are individuals.
For example, let's say that I invited you to have coffee with me at my home. There's only one way that I'm going to let you into my home, and that's through my front door. But how do you get to my front door? There's more than one way - it all depends on what your starting point is. The way is different for someone who lives in San Pedro than, say, someone who lives in San Bernardino. But both would still have to go through my front door to gain (welcome) access to my home.
God's love for us is so vast that he has provided as many paths to Jesus as there are individuals, and the Gospels and the New Testament are rich in examples of this. In Luke Chapter 7 alone there are five examples:
- The Centurion, a middle-management guy whose servant was ill. "I'm not worghy of your time, Jesus." (But my employees think that I am)
- The widow at Nain, whose son had died. "A prophet is among us. God has come to help His people!" (*side note: Back in the day, to touch a dead body made you "unclean." Somehow, that's a non-issue when you bring somene back to life.)
- The disciples of John the Baptist. "Are you really the Christ?"
- Simon the Pharisee. "Let's have dinner, Jesus. I want to see for myself what you're really like...... SCANDALOUS! He allows a sinful woman to anoint him!"
- The Sinful Woman. "Jesus, you've made such a difference in my life. How can I ever repay you enough?"
And the Bible shows more paths to Jesus:
- Nicodemus: "I don't understand this 'Born Again' thing. Can you explain it to me?"
- The Woman at the Well: "How do you know so much about me?"
- The father of the demon-possessed son: "Jesus, your disciples weree not successful in healing my son, but I still believe."
- The Rich Young Ruler: "Tell me exactly what I have to do -- give me the Heavenly To-Do List." (He got the list, but he didn't do it.)
- The woman with the 12 years of bleeding: "If I could just get close enough to brush my hand against the hem of Jesus' robe ... he doesn't even have to notice me..." (She did. He noticed.)
- The Centurion at the cross: "Surely this man was the Son of God!"
- Saul of Tarsus: "Let's go to Damascus and kill us some Jesus Freaks!" (Thank God that Jesus had given Saul a change of plans!)
Fast-forward 2,000 years, and the encounters with Jesus still happen.
- The person who notices that something is happening: "I believe in God, but does he really care about what happens to me?"
- The skeptic: "I'm going to prove to you that thes Jesus guy is a fraud." (andthe more he tries to prove his point, the more he sees the evidence that Jesus is who he says he is.)
- The disaster observer: "Where was God when all of this took place? How could God let this happen?"
- The Prison Inmate: "I've done some pretty awful things and hurt a lot of people on my way down. Why would Jesus forgive me?"
- The fast-track corporate executive: "I've done some pretty awful things and hurt a lot of people on my way up. Why would Jesus forgive me?"
- The Athelete or The Golden Child: "I'm doing OK on my own." (Take a hard look. Are you really? Who are you kidding?)
Sooner or later, we are all going to have a Jesus encounter, because when it comes right down to it, we all need Jesus. The question is, how will you respond to your Jesus Encounter?
Just as there is only one way into my home, there is only one way to the Father, and that is through Jesus Christ. The Good News is that your path to Jesus does not have to be my path to him. It begins from where you are coming from right here, right now. Encounter Jesus. Ask him into your heart.
"Dear Jesus, I am sorry for my sins. Please forgive me and give me a new heart. Amen."