I hadn’t seen my old friend Terry in five or six years, but we had a good talk yesterday over lunch and afterward. Sure enough, the conversation came around to comparative religions (not my doing). He said he figured the Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, etc., had just as good a shot as the Christians in getting their place in the sun (or wherever) after they died.
I asked why he believed that. For an articulate guy, he was a little slow answering so I suggested he was motivated by issues of “fairness.” Yeah, maybe so. He said it’s illogical—and a bit proud—for Christians to insist that their way is the only way. I allowed that he was right (about the pride bit), but when I asked him for evidence—even anecdotal—for the belief that one religion is as good as another, he wavered.
To give him something to chew on, I related a few examples of my experience with Christ Jesus. One concerned a dear friend, JoAnne, suffering from lupus. God spared her life within minutes of the doctors telling us that she had less than an hour to live. How do I know it was God? Her family and friends (myself included) prayed for God’s intervention that very hour.
It happened. Members of the medical team were dumbfounded by the immediate reversal of her condition. They said there was no explanation for JoAnne’s survival. Terry knows me well enough to tell if I’m making something up. I offered other examples of God’s intervention and shared my personal transformation (which is, thankfully, still in process).
Segue to yesterday evening … I called a Christian brother, Mike. He’d had a challenging day. His younger daughter’s boyfriend, Levi, was driving the previous day with his dad over in Central Oregon near Crane Prairie. Great fishing, hiking, camping, over there. As dusk approached, a deer bolted in front of their rig. Levi jerked the wheel—missed the deer—but a wheel skidded into a pothole, and he lost control. Their vehicle plunged over a cliff. Levi suffered a broken neck and his dad, a broken back + broken ribs, limbs, etc.
Mike had few additional details. Someone found the two injured men at the bottom of the cliff; got EMTs there who transported the two men to the Bend hospital. Saved their lives, for sure, even though Levi will be in traction for twelve weeks. His dad got a ticket for not having his seat belt on(!).
Back when I was a kid, a broken neck or a broken back meant sure death. Not so today. Lots of prayers went up for those two guys. To Buddha? Nope. Krishna? Uh, uh. To the God of Heaven. The Christian God, if you will. Why? Well, I’d expect it’s because he’s the only one people really think to call on when it’s Fort Desperation. Also, because he’s the only one who answers prayers. As far as I know, those other religions don’t have a place for intercessory prayer.
It’s certainly not cool or loving for Christian folks to label believers of other religions as stupid or misguided. If praying to God the Father in the name of Jesus for rescue, recovery, or renewal is what works, use it! That’s a good reason to claim Jesus is the only way.
But be humble and thankful, not judgmental. Think of your condition before God got hold of your life. Where were you? I remember how overwhelmed I was, walking around full of my own suppositions and plans when life came crashing in on my house of self-sufficiency and self-made rules. Out of the chaos and self-condemnation of my disasters, I had no choice but to thank the Lord for rescuing me from myself.
Our politically correct society takes a dim view of anyone claiming to have found truth. That’s classified as narrow-minded and possibly bigoted. But if that’s the only way that works, why play games?
If you would, take a minute to pray for Levi and his dad. For healing of the body and spirit. We have this promise: Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations … Ephesians 3:20-21