Only One Way

Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (John 14:6 NIV)

A couple of weeks ago, as I was listening to the chanting of the prayers from the local mosque as they celebrated Eid al-Adha, I was reminded again that the areas in which we meet together, are areas where many people don't trust Jesus as the way to God. Of course, that was true in the majority white British area where I used to live in Blackburn. I suspect the majority of people there didn't think much, if at all, about God.

That brings us to one of the most famous verses in the Bible. Jesus has told the disciples he is about to leave and prepare a place for them in his Father's house (heaven), but they're scared that they won't find the way there. Jesus announces, straightforwardly, that he is the way. If you want to go to the Father and his house then Jesus is the way. In fact he's the only way – no-one can know God the Father without going through God the Son.

This is a striking statement in the multi-cultural, multi-faith UK. Jesus really is saying that only the Christian, who has put his or her faith in Jesus, can know God and go to heaven. The atheist, the Muslim, the Buddhist, the Hindu and whatever other option you can think of does not know the Father and is not going to heaven according to Jesus.

It's a striking statement, because the majority around us don't agree with us. It's striking because much of the media and the education system rather patronisingly tries to suggest that whatever we believe, it all, essentially boils down to the same thing.

I want to suggest it's a statement that has two important implications for us in Deeplish and Newbold.

1. Occasionally people will twist this sort of teaching to imply that as a “Christian nation” we should reject, discriminate against and relegate to second class citizens those who aren't “Christian.” As well as the rather dubious understanding of the UK as Christian, this fundamentally misunderstands Jesus, who confirmed the teaching of the Old Testament when he taught us to love our neighbour (Mark 12:31).

2. It means that a key way to love our neighbour is to tell them the good news about Jesus. If Jesus is the only way to the Father and to heaven, then if you love someone you'll want to tell them. That's true for the neighbours we have around our church buildings, where we live, at work and in our families, whatever their background and beliefs.

This month, perhaps you could reflect on your neighbours in whatever sphere who don't know Jesus. Are you praying for them? Will you pray for yourself, that God will help you be the one to share with them about Jesus who is the only way to God. And why not come along to the special evening service we're having on October 16th, where will be thinking about and praying for part of our working of sharing Jesus – specifically how we share Jesus with our Muslim neighbours.

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