Christianity: Exclusively Inclusive?

By: Tanwin Tanoto

"I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me" - Jesus

That statement of Jesus demands a reaction. Whether you are a believer or non-believer, you have to admit that that is a bold statement coming from anyone! Well actually, that was Jesus' answer when Thomas, one of His disciples, asked Him about the way to eternal life. Recorded in the book of John in the 14th chapter, Jesus does not only claim that He knows the way, but He claims to be the way!

This statement alone might be the reason why you're rejecting Christianity - it being so exclusive and intolerant with other religions. Before rejecting the whole belief system based on a quote, it might be a good idea to explore what that quote actually means. So please join me in this journey that shows you why that statement is actually good news for us.

In today's society, it is more accepted to be a liar, a thief, and a cheat than to be exclusive. We conveniently say that all roads lead to Rome, that all religions are the same and we all will end up in Heaven. But that's assuming that we know our own way to Heaven. Imagine that I'm asking you to join me on a holiday road trip with my family and me. The destination is a beautiful cabin that sits near a placid lake. But the problem is I don't know the way and I don't intend to carry a map! Would you come with us? Would you join us by knowing only the destination? No matter how beautiful the destination is or how fun the journey might be, knowing the way is essential to the journey itself. Imagine if I say, "don't worry, all roads lead to the lake somehow". It would take us hundreds of years going through all the turns and dead-ends before we arrive at the lake - if we are lucky.

Some people would claim they know the way to eternal life. They wrote books and gave you instructions on how to get there. But how trustworthy are they? Imagine if I say I know the way to the cabin, but I've never been there myself. I know the proximity of the cabin (more or less) and I have some sort of map - that I created myself. How trustworthy am I? Would you follow me to the cabin with that knowledge and my self-made map? I have a very high chance of getting you lost. Knowing the way does not guarantee that you will arrive at your destination (you can ask my wife). So many people claim to know the way but only one person is bold enough to say "I am the way!"

Imagine if I say to you that I don't know the way to the cabin, I don't know where the proximity of the cabin is, I don't know how long it will take us to get there, but there is only one way to get there. There are no turns, no intersections, no dead-ends, only one way that leads from my house to that cabin. Would you come with me then? I'm sure you'll feel more secure because you know that your destiny is no longer at the mercy of my knowledge (or, in this case, lack of knowledge) on the ways to the cabin, but on the single road that will take you there. Shifting your trust (or lack of trust) from my inability to navigate to that single road is called faith. You will get to the cabin, not because of my instructions or navigations, but because there is only one way to get there. We can't get lost, as long as we stay on that one road. Jesus is that one road. He not only knows the way, He is the way!

Friends, Jesus is the exclusive way to get to Heaven and it's not such a bad thing when exclusivity means a certainty. Jesus is the way and that is the truth that leads to life. Yes, Jesus made a very exclusive statement but He also made the most inclusive statement of all:

"For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life" - Jesus

Please read that statement again slowly, especially the second part. Whoever. Who is whoever? I am whoever. You are whoever. Everyone is whoever. Jesus is the most inclusive way to get to Heaven. Whoever is that man who is cheating on his wife. Whoever is that girl who hates his father. Whoever is that man who drinks his life away in a bar every day. Whoever is that father who leaves his family behind. Whoever is that person who wrecks the lives of everyone around him. Whoever is you and me.

Other religions demand you to go to someplace, do some ritual, be good, donate and do charity, shave your heads, before you have a slight chance to go to heaven (again assuming they know the way). Jesus said, "Whoever." and you can't get more inclusive than that.

Friends, I don't know about your life and what you have or haven't done in the past. But there is always hope in Jesus. He wants whoever to come to Him. Yes, that whoever includes you and the mess you've done in the past. Yes, that whoever includes you who thinks you are right with God. Either way, Jesus is for whoever.

Only Jesus has the exclusive way to Heaven, but also only in Jesus whoever can get eternal life. Jesus is exclusively inclusive.