I'm Abe Wolfgang, an Electrical Engineer, writer, Father, husband, and full-time lover of story. I blog about those stories, how they impact us as humans, and why they are important. Occasionally I write my own as well.

The Heart of the Problem

The Heart of the Problem

Do you think people doubt today, not because of a problem they have in the mind, but because of the implications belief would have on their body? Our problem is not that there is only one way to God. The heart of the problem is not in the limitation of ways, but in the limitation of our autonomy. We want the freedom to either add or subtract from any given offering. [1]

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and nthe life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you had known me, you would have known my Father also.4 From now on you do know him and have seen him.”
— John 14:6-7 (ESV)

But we have a problem with that verse. The man himself said it, and we take issue with it.

"Well, that's just too exclusive," we say. "I refuse to believe the good people from other religions don't get to go to heaven."

That's a valid argument, except that it's not God's problem, it's our problem. We fail to see that the statement is really an INCLUSIVE one. The problem probably comes from the phrasing, since it is a negative (no one comes to the father, etc.). Let's flip this around. Sure, none come to the father except through Christ. We get that, it's exclusive, but we miss that this invitation was given to EVERYONE. No matter your age, occupation, background, no matter what you've done, who you've hurt, no one is so far from God that they cannot be reconciled. He is not an exclusive God, he is inviting everyone. It's our problem that we look at his invitation and say that it's too restrictive or doesn't work right for us.

16 “But to what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to their playmates,
17 “ ‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance;
we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.’
18 For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’ 19 The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is justified by her deeds.”
— Matthew 11:16-19 (ESV)

You were given the seriousness of the word of God, but you denounced that as being not gracious enough. You were brought the free grace of God, but you said that was not serious enough for you. [2] No matter which way God presented himself to you, you wanted something else. I am convinced that even if God came to the world in a way that completely lined up with everything that they ever wanted, the world would still reject him. "You didn't give me enough proof" but God gave them all the proof they would ever need.

We're looking at this issue from the wrong direction. You can look at Christ and exclusivity all day long and just get more and more frustrated, but instead let's look at the great invitation that Christ has given us on the cross. So many religions and faith systems, in fact I would go as far to say all of them, have some form of payment involved in the afterlife. There are things you have to do to go to heaven, sometimes you don't even know if you are going. Sometimes there is no heaven and you just keep living on and on here, paying for past deeds in future lives.

Christianity is unique. Christ came so that we ALL would have eternal life if we would simply follow him. There is nothing you have to do, nothing you have to pay, nothing you have to give in order to gain the amazingly incredible gift that Christ has given us: forgiveness.

But there is one thing that we have to give up. It is the one thing that we, as humans, do not want to give up, and that is our autonomy. Let's go all the way back to the beginning of time: Adam and Eve. They tested their autonomy, they sinned by taking their lives and futures into their own hands, and if you think about it, every single sin we commit is the sin of autonomy. It may take many forms, but at its heart, it is exactly the same thing that Adam and Eve committed.

4 But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. 5 For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
— Genesis 2:4-5 (ESV)

We all want to be able to call the shots. We all want to be like God in that we choose what is good and what is evil. We've been struggling with it ever since, and Christ came so that we could shrug that off. We could get back to submission to our creator. This was his ultimate act of love for us, and he did it all for his own glory.

Why does God remind us over and over that he makes much of us in a way that is designed ultimately to make much of him?

The answer is this: Loving us this way is a greater love. God’s love for us, that makes much of us for his glory, is a greater love than if he ended by making us our greatest treasure, rather than himself. Making himself our end is a greater love than making us his end. The reason this is greater love is that self, no matter how glorified by God (Romans 8:30), will never satisfy a heart that is made for God.
— John Piper [3]

What is more loving: a God that lifts us up, or a God that, at great cost to himself, positions us to lift him up? We're too self-centric. Everything is about US. That's just how our culture has grown, that's how human nature has grown. What has God done for ME lately?

How has that worked out for you? What fruit have you been getting from looking out for yourself? Has that made you happy or righteous?

20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. 21 But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. 22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
— Romans 6:20-23 (ESV)

You can be a slave to yourself, or a slave to righteousness. There's no middle ground, and perhaps that's where we get this idea of exclusivity. The world hates black and white, and fail to see that this is a black and white issue. There are no shades of gray here. You are a slave to sin, which is death in the end, or you are a slave to righteousness, which will lead to eternal life. Yes, slavery to yourself might feel good in the here and now, I don't deny that, but do you want to live for the now or for eternity?

I know my answer.

A Small Thought - On Saying No

A Small Thought - On Saying No

Making Changes