I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6
Recently, I read a disturbing quote from a pastor of a large church in California. He said, “I used to believe that we should ask Muslims to accept Christ as their Savior. But I don’t believe that any more. I’ve sensed the presence of God with Muslims, and I’ve come to believe that it’s wrong to try to talk them into becoming Christians.”
I don’t know why he changed his mind, but caving in on what Jesus has clearly said is a betrayal of Jesus Himself. Jesus came to make a way to God by removing the one barrier that blocks everyone’s path to God—the barrier of sin. This meant that He had to die in our place to pay the price of sin. Without His sacrifice, there is no other way. Let’s face it; if there were other ways to God, then He didn’t need to die. It’s ludicrous to believe that His Father would send Him through the agony of the cross if it were only another religious option. To deny that He is the way is to deny Jesus.
But let’s get personal about this. While it’s easy to “be out” on a West Coast pastor who has bailed on the message of Jesus, we ourselves find it hard to tell people at the water cooler that we believe He is the only way. There are probably a lot of reasons why we tend to fudge on the issue: keeping culturally respectable, not appearing to be to the right of Attila the Hun, or just not wanting to seem intolerant or bigoted all stack up as pretty good reasons to duck when the subject is raised.
But at some point, we have to make up our mind about whether any of these pressures are worth betraying Jesus for.
Judas did it for 30 pieces of silver (Matthew 27:1-5). And, to be candid about it, he had some pretty good reasons to bail. If he had stuck it out with the unpopular Jesus, he would suffer (as Jesus had told His disciples), be thrown out of synagogues, and perhaps even die for the cause. On the other hand, betraying Christ would bring him acceptance from the “powers that be,” safety, and security by aligning himself with the big guys—and some extra cash besides. Being like Judas is always an option. But let’s remember that he was no hero. When was the last time you heard of parents naming their newborn son Judas?
All I’m trying to say is that sticking up for Jesus against heavy odds is always tough. But it’s always right. Perhaps we have misunderstood the nature of being a follower of Jesus: We are to take up our cross and follow Him. Paying a price for Him comes into clear perspective when we remember the phenomenal price He paid for us.
I’m not asking you to be obnoxious about it, just humbly clear. And by the way, is there anything compelling about your life that would back up the words that Jesus is the way? Are you wonderfully different because Jesus is the way? Do people at the water cooler know that you are trustworthy, forgiving, fair and honest, joyful, and quick to speak a good word about others?
It’s always easier to speak up for Jesus when we have already shown up for Jesus.
This passage first appeared in “Strength for the Journey with Joe Stowell” (www.getmorestrength.org)