“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” – John 14:6
Over the years, I have been blessed with great working and personal relationships with persons of many faiths, ethnicities and cultures. Past bosses and peers included Jews, Muslims, a Mormon, Evangelicals, Catholics, a Hindu and atheists who hailed from five different continents. Most of my experiences hammered home the mantra of my mother, that “We are all God’s children”.
The desire to understand various cultures and religions led me to embrace diversity. Courses and seminars on various faith, culture and ethnic considerations were my favorites. My management style was one of acceptance, openness, and a family-mentality. I prided myself in the ability to work with any individual or group for the better good. Prejudices and intolerance were unacceptable.
So it was that jaws dropped and silence filled the room after I told an atheist colleague that he was missing the boat by not following Jesus Christ. I didn’t say he needed to believe in God. I didn’t say he needed to find religion. Mohammed and Buddha weren’t offered as options. When the man said he expected to get to heaven because he was a good person, I told him that he needed to follow Jesus.
The ensuing discussion involved two Jewish nurses, a Muslim pharmacist, a Catholic sales rep, two “it doesn’t matter what I believe” types, the atheist sales rep and my Christian self. I knew what I believed: that Jesus was born and died to save us; that He is part of the trinity that is our one God; and that there is no other path to Heaven except through Him. Unfortunately, I was not as well-versed in the Bible as I am now. That, coupled with the presence of alcohol in several of the participants makes me unsure who best made their case for faith that night.
The next day, I was called into the office of my boss. She is a member of a prominent Christian Church, although her assertions made me question what kind of faith she had. On the one hand, she claimed to be a devout Christian. On the other hand, she said we have to realize that there are other faiths and “who are we to say that they may be right or not?” The ensuing debate over the difference between tolerance and love of fellow man versus acceptance that their faith system may also lead to God got a little heated before she suddenly remembered the real point of why she called me in. “There is no room for religious debate in the workplace.”
That experience popped back into my head recently as I watched a televised discussion panel talking about why Christians are “so arrogant”. They discussed alleged and real gray areas, fine lines, multiple-translations of Biblical languages, and such. Certainly there was merit in many of their points. But finally, one member of the panel turned to the other five and asked each of them the same question.
After asserting that they were followers of a particular faith (there was no atheist on the panel), he asked, “Do you believe that other faiths may be an alternate path to the same God?” After each of them answered either yes or that there was a possibility that the answer is yes, the sole defender of Christian arrogance stated, “Then I must tell you that you really have no faith at all.”
Amen. To be a Christian is to accept that Jesus is the Way. To be a Christian means we exclude all other possibilities. Jesus Himself tells us, “I AM the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6) To say there are other faiths that may lead to the Father is to denounce Jesus. It is to say that he is not part of a trinity God. It is to be non-Christian.
Is that arrogance? No! It is our faith. There may appear to be a fine-line between the two; but it is an immoveable line of unimaginable strength.
When we accepted Christ’s invitation to follow Him, we accepted some core truths that are beyond debate. Many of us re-proclaim our faith each Sunday with the words of the Nicene Creed. “We believe in one God…” We believe in God the Father, His Son- Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. We believe Jesus died for the forgiveness of our sins and we look forward to the resurrection and the life to come. The Nicene Creed is Christianity defined. If we believe in Jesus, we must believe what he tells us.
So, being the Arrogant Christian that I am: I believe in One God, the trinity of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. I believe Jesus came to save us and leads the way to the Promised Land. There are some other very nice faith systems out there. I love and accept the people of those faiths as my brothers and sisters. I pray that each one of them will recognize the moment when they are invited by Jesus to follow the Way and accept Him as their Lord and Savior, too.
How arrogant are you about your faith?