— Glenn W. Harrell
Back in the days before cell phones and satellites, I discovered that there were many ways to Aunt Mary’s house in Wichita Texas. I attribute these scenic detours to my stubborn refusal to stop and ask for directions, or even to purchase a map. I relied on instinct and feel.
In the same way, there are indeed many paths to God and many of these paths take the traveler considerable distances from the destination. Some people will travel their lifetime and yet never arrive before their eventual death and departure from this earth.
Still others are caught in the round-about straining for the right decision of turn. Me personally, I was on the paths most common to all world travelers. My paths included:
Path of the SELF-SUFFICIENT MAN
I inherited religion from my parents. This path taught me that God wanted me to be a good boy and to do more good-deeds than bad. I needed to obey all the laws as they applied. So, off to work I went. One day, this path came to a dead end. I discovered that I broke more laws than I obeyed.
I learned that a book called the bible didn’t encourage this as a viable route and that I must take a detour. Here’s what it said.
“God doesn’t accept people simply because they obey the Law. No, indeed! All the Law does is to point our sin… God treats everyone alike. He accepts people only because they have faith in Jesus Christ.” (Romans 3:20,22)
My religion path had been quite different from this. In fact, the opposite direction. What to do?
Path of the REJECTED MAN
I can remember well the desire to have a girl accept me for who I was. I didn’t know how to verbalize it, but I knew the feeling I was after. While on my path to God, I discovered that I also wanted his acceptance, and I couldn’t verbalize this one either. I am still speeding on the highway with the do-gooders. We are all quite religious, and we are resisting the path that says, “Follow Jesus this way”.
The fork in the road could not be more confusing. If I go left, I trust my own good works and adherence to the Laws of God. Surely God will appreciate all my efforts and accept me? If I go right, I trust the Jesus path. This path rejects my work in favor of His death and resurrection. God rejects my good works and attempts at pleasing Him apart from faith in His Son.
“But God treated Him (Jesus) as a sinner, so that Christ could make us acceptable to God.” (II Cor. 5:21)
Path of the STUBBORN REBELLIOUS MAN
Nothing, and I mean nothing, can make a man (or woman) more rebellious toward an authority than a restriction to perceived freedom. Of all the paths to God that show little promise, the path of stubbornness is the one most widely traveled. Sin, adopted as a pet, finds a loving owner who will go to loud extremes of protectionism.
“See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God.
But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.
We have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original conviction firmly to the very end.
As has just been said: “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion.”
Who were they who heard and rebelled? Were they not all those Moses led out of Egypt? And with whom was he angry for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies perished in the wilderness? And to whom did God swear that they would never enter his rest if not to those who disobeyed? So we see that they were not able to enter, because of their unbelief.” Hebrews 3:12-19
Path of the ATHEIST OR RELIGIOUS MAN
This path pretty much covers the options. Both have a destiny with time and death. No matter one’s religious tag, (Protestant, Catholic, Jewish or None) belief or unbelief, we all have an appointment with death. The good, bad and the indifferent will all stand before the judgment seat of God. Everyone’s path leads to God and the bible informs us as to what we might expect when we arrive. We will all meet Jesus there.
Some will eagerly await Him, and some will dread, but all will face Him. All paths will lead to this important event of reckoning. Buddha, Mohammed, Confucius, Old and New Testament figures — all of humanity will assemble at this cul-de-sac before Him who is above all others. No matter where we have come from, we all end up here. Many paths, one destination. Death will deliver us up to the one who conquered death and it’s sting.
“And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment, so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him.” Hebrews 9:27-28
It is here at the judgment that we fully understand the Trinity and the Godhead of Christ. Every Knee Will Bow to Him.
Path of TRUTH and DESTINY
“And the testimony is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life.” I John 5:11-12
At the paths’ end the separation will be clear.
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.” Matthew 25:31-33
EVERYONE, Jew, Greek, Angel, Muslim, Mormon, Buddhist, Shinto, Baptist, Catholic, Protestant, Agnostic, and Atheist alike:
No Exceptions–EVERY knee and EVERY tongue.
“Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Philippians 2:5-11
God will not ask if you and I belonged to a particular religion, denomination or sect. He will ask one question. What did you do with the gift of my Son for you?
“For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day.” –Jesus John 6:40
Path of the REDEEMED
Jesus made many incredible statements that caused Him to be ridiculed and persecuted to death. He claimed to be the exclusive door to entering Heaven. Some people have decided to trust this God-man. Some have accepted Him as Savior, Lord, and King. These souls are comforted by the words and life of Christ as to the destiny and outcome of their path.
“Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also. And you know the way where I am going.” Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, how do we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me. If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; from now on you know Him and have seen Him.” John 14:1-7