This week I’ve stumbled across a couple of alarming statistics from the national landscape. Both hit me like the proverbial ton of bricks, and upon further review, I’ve decided that the two statistics might be related. I’ll let you decide.
Statistic #1: 60% of Americans who self-identify as “born again Christian” do not believe that Jesus is the only way of salvation.
Statistic #2: 25% of American teenagers are struggling with gender identity.
I’ll just let you think on that for a moment.
There is no doubt in my mind that a clear affirmation of “Jesus is the only way to God” is the most offensive claim that we can make within our present culture. So why would we ever say such a thing? Because Jesus said it! It’s that simple. And it’s not just in John 14:6 that Jesus makes that claim, but He says it in all kinds of other texts and in all kinds of other ways. It’s something that our Lord knows that we must understand if we’re going to survive in this world. It’s something that we must understand if we’re going to survive spiritually. The absolute exclusivity of Christ is foundational to the doctrine of every Christian and foundational to the doctrine of every church. Is it any wonder, then, that such a bedrock claim would fall on such hard times in our contemporary culture? Not really. You and I are living in anti-truth days.
Jesus is the only one who could ever satisfy the demands of a holy God on our behalf. But Christ’s being the only way of salvation will be hard for many of our friends to swallow. Let’s face it: at times we too find it hard to swallow. Can’t we just fit in with everybody else and crack open the possibility for other “ways” to God? It sounds so humble and polite. Problem is: it makes God a liar. If in our “progressive” thinking Mohammed and Buddha and good works are also legitimate routes to God, then – despite how much we may feel that our beliefs are enlightened or self-satisfying – the Bible would conclude that we have wandered into an embrace of the spirit of antiChrist. And I don’t have to tell you that that’s never a good place to be!
But here we are. Most people have caved on this critical truth, even in the church. So the church has grown weak and stale. Tired and feeble. Conforming instead of transforming. Many are wondering who turned out the lights. We did. And, let’s face it: doctrinal error never exists in a vacuum. Wherever we find the erosion of one key doctrine, we can rest assured that other doctrines have been assaulted too. The church is in a mess.
And that mess makes all the difference because we’ve been commissioned by Jesus as “the salt of the earth” and “the light of the world.” So the salt shaker is clogged, and the light switch is operationally hit or miss. And here’s what I’ve been thinking: the church bears the lion’s share of the responsibility for the rampant confusion in the culture. We have, unfortunately and by our neglect, paved the way for a morally confused society. Are we willing to repent?
I’m connecting the dots, friends. So perhaps it’s no surprise that one of the Bible’s first and most foundational claims (Genesis 1:27) would lie at the center of our current cultural meltdown: So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. This is no accidental point of conflict or dispute, but this is a frontal assault on the nature of humankind and the nature of our Creator.
And here’s the deal: only an awakened, revived, and steadfast church can steer us forward! The world has no answer for these present woes, nor is it willing to look in the right place for those answers. So followers of Christ can either join in on the lapse of reason, and that will be the easy way, or we can shine the way that we were designed to reflect the hope of Christ, and that will be the difficult way – but it will be the only way to life.
Your neighbors are hurting. I don’t even know your neighbors, but I know that they’re hurting. And it’s likely that they’re confused and scared. They are at least passively aware that something profound is unraveling around them, but it’s very likely that they do not understand the core of the trouble. That’s where you come in! You know the Way. You know the Truth. You know the Life.
That makes the church the perfect place for young people to question their gender identity. We can wrestle with ourselves in the church. In fact, that’s what every saved sinner does every day. So it’s all the more reason why you and I must do everything within our power to create in the church an atmosphere of open arms. Bring your questions! Bring your doubts! Bring your shame! And we will be for each other a family of faith, living under the banner of love, and spurring each other on to brighter days. And we will explore together – as long as we have breath – what it means to be “fearfully and wonderfully made.” We will delight in each other’s perfect design, and in the fact that our good God makes no mistakes. By God’s grace and for His glory, we’ll connect everybody to Jesus.
We ought to be asking the Lord to forgive our carelessness with the gospel treasure that we’ve been given. I believe that He stands ready to put us back on the right path and fast. That’s just who He is: full of grace and truth.