Father’s Day Memory: My Dad got pulled over once for going the wrong way down a one way street. “What’s the problem, Officer?” and the Officer informed him that he had been going down a one way street. “But I was only going one way,” Dad said.
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. John 14:6
Five years ago last weekend, I was among four people standing on a stage in front of hundreds of people with countless more watching online on the first night of the 222nd General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church USA. We were two teams of two and the commissioners could ask us anything they wanted as we were standing to be their Co-Moderators. This is terrifying, for the record. “What’s the capital of South Dakota?” What’s your plan for world peace?” They could ask anything.
Denise Anderson and I were one team and someone asked this:
Do you believe that Jesus is the one way to salvation?
Our answer was a quick yes which led to a smattering of applause. (Apparently we were being rewarded for not giving them a circuitous answer.)
I continue to believe that the answer to this question is “yes” and there are indeed nuances including the fact that God is God and we are not, so God gets to save whomever God chooses. Earlier in the Gospel of John, Jesus notes that God sent his son to save the whole world. So there’s that.
HH and I raised three PKs (preachers’ kids) and they have varying connections to organized religion these days, but they all hold onto their Christian roots. This summer we are adding to the family a Hindu bride and her Sikh father to join two daughters-in-love who were raised Muslim. I am now the owner of a beautiful shalwar kameez which I’m wearing to SBC and AJC’s Rokka ceremony preceded by a prayer ceremony led by a Sikh priest.
So who gets to be saved? Most people of faith agree that Jesus was a “great man” and perhaps even a prophet. I believe that Jesus saved my life – quite literally – on this earth. I hope to enjoy the life that comes after this in God’s eternal light. AND since God seems to surprise us on a regular basis (look out Pharisees) I am not worried about whether or not those raised Muslim, Hindu, or Sikh in my family recite the precise words of The Jesus Prayer in any of it’s forms.
What if you follow Jesus in behavior but never say the words? What if you say the words but live a selfish life? What if you lead a “good life” while clueless about the injustices that the people Jesus died for deal with every day?
I went to a funeral recently during which the preacher reminded us that not one of us is good – including the person in the casket whom I knew as a profoundly loving and kind human being. Okay – yes. We all fall short of God’s glory. And also God moves us to live lives of love to all people including those who are hard to love, including the least of these, including people who were born in parts of the world that worship God in other ways.
Some of us are clearly going “one way” in the way we live that we believe to be the correct way while it might in fact be the wrong way in the eyes of God. I’m grateful that I don’t have to be the one to judge who’s in and who’s out. Again, I’m trusting that – like always – God will surprise us.
Have a wonderful week.