October 24, 2009

Ringing Loud and Clear

A few years back, my wife and I traveled to Alaska for a wedding, and to this day, I am still perplexed by what happened that day. It continues to amaze me. The ceremony itself caused me to be challenged. Let me explain.

As it is with many weddings these days, this was a very non-traditional one. The bride and groom wrote their own vows. They were sweet and tender, and even a little humorous if you knew them. But in what was a new experience for me, the Maid of Honor spoke up and said something prior to the rings being shared.

In what may be seen as very indicative of the spiritual climate of the day, she began her comments with something about “the god above and the goddess below", then she wished them (and I cannot give you an exact quote here)- the peace of Buddha, the _?_ of Krishna, the passion of Pele (Hawaiian goddess of fire) in their love life, and the _?_ of Thor (Norwegian god of thunder and war). Everybody but Jesus and the Cat in the Hat seemed to be included. Now, that is not to be disrespectful with my words. I choose them just to give you a full picture of her words and their shock value to my ears.

Again, that was the maid of honor speaking. I know a little something about the bride and groom, and I have no idea what they thought about this "prayer of blessing" or anyone else’s thoughts at the wedding, for that matter.

This entire experience challenges me in my prayer life. How can I reconcile her words with those of Jesus? "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." (John 14:6)

Yet, here is a very nice, well-meaning woman truly believing in any and all gods of the earth- aside from the One True God who created it all. I thought who else at this ceremony is fully embracing this concept of many gods and goddesses? Or even just the idea of “earth and nature worship”- which is so common these days among people who are really just looking for God?

All people are searching for meaning and order to their world. And Jesus loves all of them and died for all of them. But let’s be clear- no one will enter into heaven at their death by believing in and worshiping everyone and anyone but Him. Jesus said it himself. Either He is telling the truth about who He is and why he came to earth in human form or He isn’t. Pretty simple. And pretty unpopular and very politically incorrect in his day and in ours. But they are His words, not mine.

The Bible is pretty clear on these matters of multiple gods and earth worship. The apostle Paul writes:

“They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.” (II Timothy 4:4) and this one:

"We know that an idol is nothing at all in the world and that there is no God but one. For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as indeed there are many "gods" and many "lords"), yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live." (I Corinthians 8:4-6)

And these verses from the book of Romans talk about the worship of the creation and of animals, certainly not a new thing:

"For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles. " (Romans 1:21-23)

The "No one"s ring really loud and clear.

So what are we to do? Love well, live kindly and respectfully, and speak wisely.

Most people know of Jesus- head knowledge, school book, even church trained stuff. But how many really know and are intimate with Him in the way the Bible speaks of having a life-giving relationship with him? Heart knowledge? Knowledge of their sinfulness and of their need for Him? Many of us have family members and dear friends who do not know Jesus at the level He challenges us to. At the very depth of relationship that will one day lead us to eternal life with Him with or without Him.

We can all do our part, however, by loving well, living kindly, and speaking well. This is the best way to share the heart, the love, and the message of Jesus.

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