[featured_image]In its simplest form, Christianity is all about Jesus. Christians are followers of Jesus. You become a Christian by placing your faith only in Jesus. The church exists only because of Jesus. Our only hope is in Jesus. Our only life is in Jesus.
He is the only way. He said that in John 14:6, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me.” There is no other way. No one comes to God except through Jesus.
During the Jesus People Movement of the 1960s and ‘70s, the “One Way” sign – the index finger held high – became a popular icon. “One Way” bumper stickers and lapel pins were everywhere. While there were a variety of expressions of Christianity during that period, there was universal agreement among Christians that Jesus is the only way to heaven! (1)
Jesus is not one among many possible paths to God. Peter makes this clear in Acts 4:12: “And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved.” Jesus is the only way to God.
Many people think that Jesus is just one of many ways to choose. James Emory White describes this pervasive thinking like this:
All roads lead to God, and to say that one way is right and all the other ways are wrong is narrow-minded, bigoted and prejudicial. What is true for you is true for you and what is true for me is true for me. Searching for God is like climbing a mountain. Since everyone knows there is not just one way to climb a mountain – mountains are too big for that – each person can choose from a number of paths. God is also too big to be though of or worshipped in just one way. All the ideas about God contained in the various religions of the world are just different ways up the mountain. In fact, though different religions have different names for God, the names all refer to the same God. (2)
The reality is that all roads do not lead to God because there is only one way to God. That one way is only through a person – Jesus. It is not true that Jesus shows us the way to heaven. He is the way to heaven. And He is the only way to heaven!
Many people in America today look to Jesus as just a wonderful moral example that we should try to follow. He certainly provides a picture of integrity, selflessness and humility. But He didn’t claim to only be a moral example; He claimed to be the only way to the Father.
N.T. Wright notes,
Christianity isn’t about Jesus offering a wonderful moral example, as though our principal need was to see what a life of utter love and devotion to God and to other people would look like, so we could try to copy it. If that had been Jesus’s main purpose, we could certainly say it had some effect. Some people’s lives really have been changed simply by contemplating and imitating the example of Jesus. But observing Jesus’s example could equally well simply make a person depressed. Watching Richter play the piano or Tiger Woods hit a golf ball doesn’t inspire me to go out and copy them. It makes me realize that I can’t come close and never will. (3)
Christianity is all about Jesus. Not the exemplary Jesus that shows us how to live nobly. Not the dying on the cross Jesus that shows us how to face death with dignity. But the Jesus who came to “seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10).
Jesus came to die. He is the atoning sacrifice for sin. He said in John 11:25-26, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?
If you take Jesus out of Christianity, you’ve got nothing. It’s all about Jesus and believing in Him as your Lord and Savior! When you trust in Jesus and stop trusting in yourself, you receive eternal life.
Jesus said in John 6:40, “For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.
Since Christianity is all about Jesus, the Christian life is all about following Jesus – in the way we love, live, obey, serve, honor, sacrifice, and give.
The point of following Jesus isn’t simply so that we can be sure of going to a better place than this after we die. Our future beyond death is enormously important, but the nature of the Christian hope is such that it plays back into the present life. (4)
If all that Christianity had to offer the world is hope of a future in heaven for eternity that would be incredible. It would be worth sacrificing everything to gain (cf. Matthew 13:44-45). However, Jesus offers the world so much more. He provides eternal life in heaven, but He also transforms lives now. Following Jesus is not just about the future. Following Jesus is also about experiencing His love, His hope and His peace now in this life
John tells us, “Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we shall be. We know that, when He appears, we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him just as He is.”(1 John 3:2) One day all followers of Jesus will become just like Him. And yet, as Christians follow Jesus here on earth, they are being conformed to His image (Romans 8:29). Christians should become more and more like Jesus (2 Corinthians 3:18). And Christians should “be Jesus” to everyone everywhere!
(1) MacArthur, John, Why One Way?, Nashville: W Publishing Group, 2002, p vii.
(2) White, James Emory, A Search for the Spiritual, Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1998, p. 89.
(3) Wright, N.T., Simply Christian, San Francisco: Harper Collins, 2006, p. 91.
(4) Ibid., p. xi.