No One, No How, No Way

This is part of my Miss-Used Scripture Posts and today we look at a verse from the Apostle John, what it teaches and what it just plain doesn’t say.

John 14:5-6  (NIV) 5Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”  6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 

Now let me say that these words of Jesus are and must be 100% true, or all the other teachings of Jesus are to be doubted. How many times have you heard this verse interpreted to mean only Christians will go to Heaven, how many times have you used it that way yourself?  Yet a simple reading of these words of Jesus imply no such thing at all.  These words taken at face value teach simply that Jesus decides who gets to see the Father. It’s says nothing at all about being a Christian, much less all the doctrines we have put in the place of Jesus. 

Now if you want to find a verse to interpret in a very narrow, literal and exclusive way, this is not that verse.  Saying that Jesus as the co-creator of the Universe decides on basis of being the eternal Logos, who sees the Father is not the same as saying only Christians will see the Father.  In Fact the Book of Revelation teaches that everyone will someday stand before the Father and the books will be opened.  Now it is clear they are there because Christ Jesus was the first to resurrect and all are under his life as all where under Adams death. 

So No One, No How, No Way has the right to add to the words of Jesus Christ,  and limit them according to their dogma.  Come on people a child could understand this but then maybe that’s the problem.

ANZAHOLYMAN

Christlike

I was reading the Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramhansa Yogananda, a very interesting book about some of the great sages of India.  My belief has always been that if you want to learn about another culture and its faith, then you should read books written by people born into that culture. In the very beginning of this book Yogananda is reflecting upon the first great sage that influenced his life and in describing this sage he uses the word Christlike. “My own path led me to a Christlike sage whose beautiful life was chiseled for the ages”

Interesting that this man would choose a non-Indian Spiritual Teacher to describe an Indian Holy Man, I find this very interesting indeed.  You must remember that India was just freeing itself from many years of being a colony of The British Crown, a “christian nation.”  Yet Yogananda does not call this sage (Lahiri Mahasaya) a christian like sage but rather a Christlike sage. 

Christlike is a word that stands apart and has not be tainted like christian has, Christlike speaks of Love, Patience, Wisdom, Forgiveness, Mercy and Very Deep Spirituality.  It has a transcendent quality that speaks of heaven and the angels, of a connection with God the Father beyond the bounds of time and matter.  Christlike is the perfect word to describe someone who lives in two worlds, heaven and earth seamlessly and seeks to unite them.  Christlike is a word that has stood the passage of time even as christian has lost its original meaning of being Christlike.

 Jesus was the most Christlike person who ever walked the earth, more than that he was sent from God to show what the future of Humanity through Him will look like some day.  We are told in the holy book of Hebrews that Jesus (The Christ) was only first of many divine son’s and daughters of The Living God.  What if the whole world secretly desired to be Christlike and live in a Christlike world?  Then indeed The Kingdom of God would have come among us and Christ would be king among christs.* *(see 1 John 3:2-3) 

Funny it takes someone from a foreign land a “non-christian”  to remind us what being christian is all about, it’s about Being Christlike.  Maybe its time to drop the word christian and all its baggage, and fully embrace the word that says it all “Christlike.”     

ANZAHOLYMAN

I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.
Mohandas Gandhi

Men in Conflict

Memorial Services are always very interesting events to be a part of, and never are people more in a state of conflict then when a friend has passed from this life.  Christians that hold a very literal view of what I call Confessional Salvation are many times the most conflicted of all, and this leads me to the tale I must tell at 3 am on a this Sunday Morning.

All week-long Christians had been whispering in my ear that they where concerned for a dearly departed soul of this back country area we all call home.  They said in hushed tones, so that the angels or the devils could not hear that, they where not sure “he was saved.”  By which if they where honest with their language they would have said that this good man was in hell for all of eternity.  This is the problem you see with this kind of thinking it always leads you to conflict and to the question, did I do enough to keep this person out of Hell?

Now the memorial service was well attended for this man who  had many friends, and was a friend to many over his lifetime of 75 years.  I spoke of a life lived well not perfectly but well, a life lived so that God does not reach for his eraser and take you out of the book of life He placed you in at your birth.  I went on to say that God does not trust us will the matters of eternity for we can tend to make a mess of things.   Love as the scriptures teach never fails and God is Love and full of Mercy and Grace.  Another man spoke of trusting God at they end of life to do the right thing concerning those we love, but He appeared to be in conflict and he struggled with those words of trust.

The memorial service ended with the singing of Amazing Grace, which the older I get becomes more Amazing by the day.  I was approached by two men in conflict after the memorial service, one who wanted to correct my theology and explained to me how eternity all came down to expressing a sinners prayer during this lifetime.  I reminded him that scripture teach that Jesus was not only his savior but the savior of the whole World, but he was certain it didn’t count at all unless they said they believed it.  It seemed to me that jesus said it best when he vocalized “it was finished” but this man was sure their was more verbal work to do!  I agreed with him that God was fully satisfied with the work of his son on behalf of the followers of Jesus, but that John had recorded the Jesus was not only the price paid for our sin but the sin of the whole world.  It occurred to me I reflected that all would have a chance before a loving God and the Savior of their souls, in this life or the life to come.  This man then began to tell me that the justice of God demanded satisfaction and that if words where not said God would not be pleased.  I reminded him that the scriptures teach that God was in Christ and Christ alone, reconciling the world back to himself.  Needless to say this man was still in conflict when we parted company as to the nature of Christ’s work not just for him but indeed for the whole world.

The second man was the one who had said he trusted God for the eternal destiny for his friend, and that man he had good hunting with for the past 20 plus years.  When we began to talk however he was very conflicted that as a Christian he had never shared his faith with his friend.  That he had never once told this man how he had received Jesus in this life and held that relationship so dear.  There was a sense in this man that his friend might be in Hell and it might be his fault or at least partly his fault.  I tried to assure him that he was right in the first place and he could trust a loving God to do the right thing.  That the source of his conflict was not God’s true nature but his bad and rather modern theology, concerning the method God uses to save those he loves.  Unfortunately this man could not be consoled and it pained me to see him in such conflict of the soul.

Imagine his responsibility before God if his theology is correct and he did not rescue this man from an eternity of punishment in Hell.  Indeed under his theology Christ just might deny him before the Father, because he refused to confess Jesus before his friend.   Can you see where this kind of love of Verbal Freewill and Biblical Literalism takes you?

Salvation I am happy to report is as the scriptures teach a “work of God” from the beginning in Genesis to the beginning at the end of the book of Revelations.  That we all rest on the “faith of Jesus Christ” and not on this very fragile thing called Confessional Salvation.  Jesus is Lord and “every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess” this to the glory of God, and then the books shall be opened.  We can trust God, thank God he has not waited for us to get of the dime to tell our friends of His Amazing Grace, He will show us all some day!

As I looked out into the crowd of souls that day I realized that in Christ there really wasn’t any difference before God, just a few that thought there was, God loves them too!

ANZAHOLYMAN