Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Road to Heaven

Many Roads Lead to Heaven

I have heard that phrase more times than I can remember. About 3 of those times were actually from real people who truly believed that to be the case. The rest of the time, the facetious claim that many roads lead to heaven was made by preachers who tried to illustrate how ridiculous it was to believe in such a thing. We are all saved in the same way they would proclaim, Jesus said he was the way they would quote, and We must all kneel at the foot of the cross they would declare. The Christian experience seemed very cut and dry. The Christian experience was not ubiquitous.

But the more I consider it, the more convinced I am that there may be many roads to heaven. The Christian experience is not ubiquitous--what I experience in a conservative Miami, Fl. assembly is not the same as an Anglican in England or a Baptist in Honduras. I know people who are converted drug lords. I know people whose families have been Christians for multiple generations. Their paths to Christ were all different!

Have I Sunk Into Relativism?

Far be it from me! I am only speaking the common sense which we all know but never want to admit. We tend to get comfortable in our own Christian Traditions & loose sight that there are other Christian Traditions which are equally as valid as our own. Christ can be translated into many languages.

Therefore, while there are many roads to heaven, there are a few landmarks that we must cross. Think of this like a map, where you can choose the interstate, turnpike, US road or backstreets to get where you are going. There are certain towns that you must get past before reaching your destination. (By the way, note that this is a metaphor for the spiritual journey. As a metaphor, it is not absolutely perfect & must break down at one point or another.)

Here Are the Landmarks

1. Realize you are broken (sin)

This is the first step to restoration--admitting there is a problem. How do you come to this realization? Maybe you went to prison & realized it there, maybe you got a spanking at the age of 4 & realized it then, maybe you saw someone torture a kid through high school & you just knew it was not right. The mechanism is not important, the revelation is. You are a broken person. There's something desperately wrong with your life as it now stands.

2. Realize you are the problem (it's not someone else' fault)

Now that you realize you are broken, it's time to find out who broke you. A lot of people stop their journey before getting to this landmark. We all know people who play the victim all the time: It's her fault that I am like this / If my parents were more loving / Blame (insert family member, pet, global warming). The time has come to admit that I am broken because of my own selfishness. I do bad things because I think they are going to make me happier or better or sexier. I do them because I want to. It's my fault.

3. Realize you are headed for disaster (death)

I'm not OK, you're not OK, but that's OK! Right? Not exactly. This is where Christianity begins to exert a distinction from other religions. There are plenty of religions that acknowledge evil in the world. There are plenty of religions that cross the first two landmarks. Some of them bypass the third--judgement. Christianity posits that if a soul sins, they cannot be in the life-giving presence of a holy God. Therefore, there is absolutely no alternative than death. If you have already come to the first two conclusions, the third is a corollary which cannot be avoided. You either accept it or deny it. Sin is a cancer in your body, and just like cancer it does not care whether or not you realize it's there: it's killing you.

4. Realize you can't go alone (you need help)

If your problem is that your are broken as a person & you were the one who got yourself into the problem in the first place, how could you possibly think that you can save yourself? The fourth landmark states that you need someone stronger than you to pull you out of your hole. Does this seem unfair to you? It does to many people. However, when you consider other examples of one person saving another, you will realize that this is commonplace. Consider the drowning woman, she needs someone who is either a) on dry ground b) on the dry deck of a boat or c) a much stronger swimmer than she is to save her. She cannot save herself. Consider also the man in cardiac arrest. He is completely unable to regulate his own heart. He needs the medical professional to work towards stabilizing his condition. That's a close approximation to our sin condition, except the sin condition is a bit more hopeless.

To be continued...

Christopher M. Jimenez. Powered by Blogger.

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