Do you believe there are many paths to God? That no matter what spiritual path you are on, eventually all of them lead to God? This common belief has spilled over into many established religions. Conversely, fundamentalists of all ilk believe that their path is the only path.
Ask any sincere Christian, Jew, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, etc. Each will assure you their path is the only way to reach God. Even within each of these religions, there are divisions, sects and denominations that believe theirs is the only path.
So who is right? In praying for wisdom on how to answer this question, a picture came to mind. It was a very large mountain with the word "Religion" written across it in black ink. At the top was a brilliant light, and above that in the sky written in white cloud-like letters was "God."
Upon the mountain following different paths toward the top, were different shepherds leading different flocks of sheep. These shepherds represented the founders, leaders, prophets, teachers, pastors, priests, guides, gurus, etc. of each of the myriad of religions represented. Each shepherd had their following of sheep, and each was taking a different path heading up the "Religion" mountain toward God. A few were not going upward at all, but merely leading their sheep around and around the mountain, not progressing toward God, but staying within the safe ruts of their doctrines and beliefs.
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Not all the sheep followed a shepherd. Some were making their own way straight up the mountain toward the top. But most sheep stayed within their flocks, walking at the pace and in the direction their shepherds led them. As each approached the top of the mountain, a glowing cloud parted, and there appeared a closed door that stood between the sheep and God. Upon the door written in red ink was "Jesus."
The interpretation seemed clear to me. Yes, there are many paths to God. And God promises "You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you, declares the Lord. ... " (Jer. 29:13-14).
"I love those who love Me, and those who diligently seek Me will find Me." (Prov. 8:17). So those whose hearts are sincerely and earnestly seeking God (not seeking a founder, leader, prophet, teacher, guru, etc,) will find God. And when they approach the top of the mountain, they will see that the door to God is Jesus. "So Jesus said to them again, 'Truly, truly I say to you, I am the door of the sheep." (John 10:7) "I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture." (John 10:9).
It seems that whether we approach God through one of the many religious paths, or independently, God (no matter what name we currently call Him) "will be found" by sincere seekers. To enter His Kingdom, all we need do is open the door marked "Jesus" that will be revealed to us as we "draw near to God." (As God revealed Jesus as Christ to Peter in Matthew 16:15-17).
But because God gave us free will, even at the moment we see that Christ is the door, we still have a choice to accept or reject Him. Enter through the door into God's Kingdom, or return to wandering around the mountain of "Religion" following our shepherd of choice.
Jesus said to him (to Thomas), 'I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me." (John 14:6) Was He right? Sincerely invite Jesus into your life, and you will know.
The Rev. Anne Barber, is pastor of My Father's House, 7215 U.S. Highway 301 N., Ellenton. For more information, visit www.myfathershouseinc.com/