Sunday, May 12, 2013

Many Paths to God

I have heard people say that there are many paths to God. Christians tend to claim that there is one path to God and His name is Jesus. I know enough about other religions to know much about their claims. It is my belief that people in general do not want to believe that there might be only one path to God. It disagrees with their perceptions of God.

The old philosophical parable about the elephant comes to mind. Three blind men are touching a different part of the elephant and because of their individual perspectives each would come to a different conclusion about what is was each was touching.

We should all be prepared to understand that each of us has limited understanding of the Nature of God. We all have a limited and incomplete view of God, who is beyond simple human comprehension. Enough said.

But does that mean there are many paths to God? Well, yes and no.

The first thing we must understand about the parable of the blind men is that they are wrong about their conclusions. What they were feeling was not a tree or a rope or a hand fan. They were all feeling parts of the same thing. And no one was correct. There was no tree, nor rope, nor anything else present. Those guesses were false descriptions of what was actually there.

But how, in the end, do we know who or what was wrong? The basic premise in the story is that we, the hearers of the story, know that there was an elephant. The premise from the beginning was that "they came to touch an elephant."

So how do we know what an elephant is?

Let's go back to the question of many paths. I propose to you an answer in the affirmative and the negative. There are many paths to God. There has to be. Every person in the world is in a different location, a unique starting place. Ultimately, we must travel different routes to the final destination of God. And God uses many different things to bring us to Him.

But like the elephant in the story, there is only one destination. There is only one God that we are all drawn to. And despite affirming that there are many roads to God, it would be equally foolish to state that all roads lead to God. In our lives, no matter where we are, we can find God. But it seems to me that we can also travel a path that leads us away from God. Which means that if we continue to cling to the belief that the elephant is a tree, there will still be some seriously bad consequences!

And now we get to Jesus. Jesus is uniquely qualified to show us God. (This might be a good blog post later.) He becomes the storyteller who begins the story with "Three men touched an elephant..." We are shown that, excuse the pun, there is an elephant in the room. We must know that there is a truth that undergirds our searching for God and the Truth. That we are not searching for just anything, but for something specific

There are many paths to God, yes. Wherever you are, God is calling you to Him. But there is one God and one final destination. And not all roads lead to Him. God will meet you where you are and find ways to bring you close. But if you want to have a chance to see the real elephant, turn to Jesus.

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything.

Colossians 1:15-18