It’s the wrong question

A friend of mine asked me the other day, “So all the religions, anybody who believes differently than you Christians, we’re all just screwed?”

And the short answer is, “yep.”

But as I thought about it, I realized what I should have said.

The idea is that there have to be multiple paths to a loving, compassionate Father.  If He wants us to make it, why not provide a thousand ways to get to Him.  COEXIST, you know (with all the different symbols).

But, of course, this first denies that all religions are exclusive.  A good heaven-bound Muslim cannot follow other faiths also.  A nirvana-bound Hindu can believe all sorts of things but they have to believe in multiple gods, not one God.

It also denies our depravity.  We are so lost, so already screwed, that we don’t deserve a way to God.  We can’t work hard enough, think holy enough, live righteously enough to make it.  It shouldn’t surprise us or offend us that there is only one way.  The miracle, the grace is that there is anyway to make fallen humanity right with a Holy God.

And finally, it denies the gift.  The death of humanity began when we said, “I don’t trust you, God.  I don’t think you know what is best for me.  And, if you do, you are hiding it from me.”  And then we sewed fig leaves together.  We made a way to cover our nakedness and religions were born.

And, just so you know, God doesn’t like any religion better than another.  I wonder whether He has a particular loathing for religious “Christianity”.  How many have been turned away from knowing and loving Him by the cruel, proud words of the people who think they’re so holy?

So, yep, we’re screwed.  But equally, we’re blessed.  God made a way.  Jesus did come as God in the form of man.  He did die on a Roman cross as a Holy sacrifice for our sin.  And He rose, victoriously conquering sin and death, paying, fully, the price for all I’ve done, all we’ve done wrong.

I don’t need another way to His presence, His peace.  I’ll take the one He gave.

Then, He can answer all my other questions.

“Well that’ll never work!”

The world is going to tell you how you can’t, how you won’t, how it’s impossible.  It will point to all your inadequacies, all God’s inadequacies.  They will make sure you remember prior failures, dreams that died, hopes crushed.  And, in case you haven’t given up yet, they’ll make you aware how little you can change, how dumb the idea is and how tired you already are.

That’s the world.

It always makes me laugh to hear people talk about God and His rules.  The picture is painted of a God that looks down sternly on His children, waiting to zap them if they get out of line.  His angry look is intended to keep us from sinning and doing anything stupid.

Anger is usually pretty poor at keeping evil at bay and, can I get real here for a second, He knows us.  Do you think He envisions us never doing something stupid?  Nah!

He is our creator God.  He is creative.  He created imagination, intuition, dexterity, intelligence.  And He put it in our hearts.  He put inside us a warrior’s heart, a couragious heart, and a curious mind.  Those things have to be knocked out of us.  Questions come naturally, not rule following.

He clarifies what won’t work but it’s actually a pretty short list.  It can be summed up in two statements.  “Love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, soul, mind and strength.” And, “love your neighbor as yourself.”  This does not inhibit creativity, it frees it.  It channels it in healthy directions.  It moves it to bring life, not destruction.

My picture of God, at least the one I’m trying to wrap my mind around, is of a God of laughter who looks down at His kids, amazed and enjoying the myriad ways we show His love.  He opens His hands to bless as we move in His Spirit.  He casts down the walls, the hinderances, the enemies that stand in our way.  He miraculously intervenes to show His glory and power.  He enters to make what should be impossible, not only possible but completed, finished, accomplished.

Do you dream?  Do you believe?  Listen to Him.  I hear Him cheering you on!