by Max Lucado
â€œ. . . whoever believes in him shall not perish . . .â€? (John 3:16)
The phrase â€œbelieves in himâ€? doesnâ€™t digest well in our day of self-sufficient spiritual food. â€œBelieve in yourself â€? is the common menu selection of our day. Try harder. Work longer. Dig deeper. Self-reliance is our goal.
And tolerance is our virtue. â€œIn himâ€? smacks of exclusion. Donâ€™t all paths lead to heaven? Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and humanism? Salvation comes in many forms, right? Christ walks upriver on this topic. Salvation is found, not in self or in them, but in him.
Some historians clump Christ with Moses, Muhammad, Confucius, and other spiritual leaders. But Jesus refuses to share the page. He declares, â€œI am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by meâ€? (John 14:6 RSV). He could have scored more points in political correctness had he said, â€œI know the way,â€? or â€œI show the way.â€? Yet he speaks not of what he does but of who he is: I am the way.
Many recoil at such definitiveness. John 14:6 and Acts 4:12 sound primitive in this era of broadbands and broad minds. The world is shrinking, cultures are blending, borders are bending; this is the day of inclusion. All roads lead to heaven, right? But can they?
The sentence makes good talk-show fodder, but is it accurate? Can all approaches to God be correct? Every path does not lead to God.
Jesus blazed a stand-alone trail void of self-salvation. He cleared a one-of-a-kind passageway uncluttered by human effort. Christ came, not for the strong, but for the weak; not for the righteous, but for the sinner. We enter his way upon confession of our need, not completion of our deeds. He offers a unique-to-him invitation in which he works and we trust, he dies and we live, he invites and we believe.
We believe in him. â€œThe work God wants you to do is this: Believe the One he sentâ€? (John 6:29 NCV). This union is publicly dramatized in baptism, for to be baptized, as Paul wrote, is to be baptized into Christ. (Galatians 3:27)
Believe in yourself? No. Believe in him.
Believe in them? No. Believe in him.
And those who do, those who believe â€œin him shall not perish but have eternal lifeâ€? (John 3:16).
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From: 3:16, The Numbers of Hope
Copyright (W Publishing Group, 2007)
Used by permission
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