Friday, May 29, 2015
All roads lead to Rome?
Worship Buddha, Mohammed, Vishnu, your favorite holy man, your own spirit guide, as long as you're sincere you'll reach enlightenment and peace… Isn't that what conventional wisdom tells us? This hodge-podge spirituality is one of the devil’s most successful tricks, a feel-good solution with no absolutes, no sacrifice and no obedience.
If that were true, it would make the Bible completely wrong. “You shall have no other gods before Me,” is as straightforward as it gets in the Ten Commandments. God is the one and only and that’s it. He leaves no room for debate. Jesus says, “No one comes to the Father except through Me.” Either Jesus is truly God and all others are false, or vice versa, but it’s impossible for everyone to be right. That’s never been an option.
So now enter all the odd little variants of what it means to be a Christian. You'll find teachers of so much grace that you don’t even have to resist sin anymore because Jesus forgives all the time. Then there are the grit-your-teeth-and-bear-it Christians who dutifully accept suffering as their cross to bear, that our lot in life is to just endure until the end. And then you have the name-it-and-claim-it people who loudly determine their wealth and health, ignoring the motives of their hearts. There are those who believe in miracles, but not in hell, the speakers in tongues and the dreamers of visions, the slain in the spirit crowd and the intellectual theological crowd, and the list goes on and on. Where do you find the truth?
Just take what He says at face value. There are no shortcuts around passages we don’t like or commandments we don't want to obey. We can't pick and choose the teachings that appeal to us and ignore those that rub us the wrong way, because every word He has spoken is for us to follow and practice.
Our human nature loves shortcuts. The danger of a false gospel is that it’s no gospel at all. There is no salvation for those who cut corners. It’s either follow God’s word, or be lost. Satan is the one behind every easy version of the gospel, every detour or distraction. He doesn't need you to deny Jesus verbally, just deny the value of His sacrifice on the cross by not obeying Him with all your heart, mind and strength. Treat Jesus like a side-item on a menu, or like one more religion and you have denied Him completely. But fight against that desire, and you'll find God.
One of the greatest frustrations as a pastor is dealing with people who want a healing, a miracle, a blessing, but want to follow their own path to God. They'll enjoy my prayers and even see changes through my faith, but when a lighter version of the gospel comes along they'll toss Jesus aside and run after a cheap imitation. Too many have been seduced by demons, and have “put up with it splendidly,” as Paul says.
So here’s the encouraging part: God wants us to know Him. He’s not hiding or being secretive. Jesus promises that we will know the truth and that truth will set us free. The path may be narrow and difficult, but it’s right there for anyone to find. Begin with obeying His word, and in the process you'll know Him as a Father, a friend, a Comforter. His Holy Spirit is eager to live inside of you and dispel all doubts. The Spirit in you will recognize the spirits that want to influence you and will help you to fight them. Find others who live out His word, even the tough parts, and use them as role models. He promises to guide you into all truth, so don't put up with anything less.
But I fear that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your minds may be seduced from a complete and pure devotion to Christ. For if a person comes and preaches another Jesus, whom we did not preach, or you receive a different spirit, which you had not received, or a different gospel, which you had not accepted, you put up with it splendidly. (2 Corinthians 11:3-4 HCSB)