“I believe in God; I just believe there are many ways to get to Him.” This popular cliché sounds pretty open-minded and politically correct, but how does it compare to what Jesus said?
In John 14:6, Jesus claimed to be the one and only way to God the Father. Either He was lying and should be dismissed out of hand, or He was telling the truth and no other way will do. No religion, no good deeds, no merit badges… nothing.
To be clear, most people consider themselves to be pretty good. They might claim to help others whenever they can, to give to charitable causes, to be loyal to their friends, to always tell the truth, to live with integrity and honour, to pay their taxes, to treat people with dignity, and to be faithful to their family. None of that matters, however, when it comes to finding their way to God the Father. Why? Because no amount of goodness could ever measure up to God’s perfect standard of holiness.
We are all infected and impure with sin. When we display our righteous deeds, they are nothing but filthy rags. (Isaiah 64:6, NLT)
Even at our best, we all fall far short of God’s standard of perfection. Recognizing that Jesus is the one and only way to God, then, is essential. Describing Himself as the “narrow gate,” Jesus said:
“You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way. But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it.” (Matthew 7:13-14, NLT)
This is not a case of “majority rules.” It does not matter how many people think they can find God on their own; Jesus claimed to be the one and only way to life. If He was telling the truth, then those who want to know God and live with the promise of spending eternity with Him must take His claim seriously.
In recent years, GPS devices have become a popular tool to help people arrive at their destination. A GPS device has the ability to direct a driver right to the doorstep, even if that destination is thousands of miles away from the starting point. It tells the driver which direction to drive, what turns to take, and how long it will take to get there.
Drivers often run into trouble when they ignore the instructions of the GPS in favour of their own sense of direction. When they do so, they may end up lost. Unfortunately, many people find themselves in a similar position in their pursuit of God.
There is a path before each person that seems right, but it ends in death. (Proverbs 14:12, NLT)
A person may place faith in a path other than Jesus, but this will always lead to disappointment. According to Jesus, He is the right path. He is the one and only way to God the Father and to eternal life. No other path will do.
When Jesus chose His first disciples, He told them, “Follow Me,” and they left what they were doing and followed Him. He calls to people today with the same words, “Follow Me.” When we heed His call, He leads us to God the Father.
Following is key. It is not enough for a person to select the right path; they also need to travel it. Far too many people decide that they are going to believe in Jesus, but then it makes no difference in their lives. They don’t really follow Him.
Jesus is not looking for agreement, nor is He looking for approval. He is looking for commitment. He is looking for disciples. Jesus wants followers, not admirers.
“If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.” (John 8:12, NLT)
What does this really mean? If following Jesus is more than simply believing in Him, how is this shown in real life?
- By seeking to know Him better everyday.
- By spending time with Him daily through prayer and reading His Word.
- By paying attention to His promptings and doing what He asks.
- By getting together with His Church every week.
- By worshipping Him in private as well as part of the Church.
- By pleasing Him with the use of personal finances.
- By prioritizing Him in the use of time.
- By serving others as an expression of His love.
- By practicing spiritual habits and disciplines that lead to growth.
- By sharing His love with others through words and actions.
- By refusing to compromise Biblical values and principles for living.
- By representing Him to a spiritually lost and dying world.
- By striving to honour Him every day and in every way.
Following Jesus is not a one-time decision; it’s a progressive journey, and an exciting one at that. However, it can also be a difficult journey. A person on that journey may become discouraged or distracted and prone to wander away from the path.
Watch your step, and the road will stretch out smooth before you. Look neither right nor left; leave evil in the dust. (Proverbs 4:26-27, The Message)
How many singers get their start singing in church, but become enticed by all the trappings of fame? How many businessmen betray their faith as they try to climb the ladder of success? How many young adults cash in their purity for a few minutes of pleasure? How many athletes compromise their values in order to achieving their dreams? Some people start on the right path with Jesus, but then they stray when the road gets rough or when they are enticed to try another path.
The temptation to stray from the narrow path is not exclusive to the famous, the career-minded, or the super-ambitious. Everyone faces obstacles and opportunities—challenges and compromises—that can lead them astray. To overcome this danger, each must choose to stay on the narrow road. There is no other valid choice.