Imagine this scenario: It’s the middle of the night. You’re sound asleep. Suddenly, the smoke alarm starts beeping loudly. You stumble out of bed and you can smell smoke. So, you wake up your family and race down the stairs to the first floor to get out of the house.
You see that the front door is blocked by flames. You look around and see the back door is blocked by flames, too. Then you look toward the kitchen and see that the side door is clear. A way out!
Now, at that moment, what do you do? Do you grab your family and race out the side door to safety? Or do you stand there indignantly, and say, “This is unacceptable. This is way too narrow. There is only one path to safety. That’s intolerant. I want many paths. I want to go out whichever exit I feel like going out. And I’m not going to move from this spot until I get my way. Harrumph!”
To paraphrase one of my favorite Old Testament prophets, Mick Jagger, sometimes we don’t get what we want, but we do get what we need.
The Bible is very clear: Mankind is sinful, and we are separated from God. The Bible also is very clear: nothing sinful, nothing unclean, will ever enter into Heaven. If we really got what we deserved, we’d be in big trouble.
But Jesus came to fix that. He came to provide a path to Heaven—Himself. He clearly declared in John’s gospel: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
According to Jesus, there is only one path to Heaven: through Him. Jesus’ statement strikes some people as narrow and intolerant. But this situation should not cause people to be frustrated and lash out with accusations of intolerance. This situation should cause people to be joyful. We should exclaim, “Yes! There is a way to Heaven. Thank God!” Just as only one door is needed to escape from the burning house, only one path is needed to escape Hell. And that path is Jesus.
To be perfectly frank, when Jesus made that declaration, He WAS being intolerant. And, of course, in today’s modern culture, just about the worst thing someone can be is intolerant. But is being intolerant really that awful? Do we tolerate a pharmacist who puts the wrong pills in the little bottles? Do we tolerate motorists who drive through red lights? Do we tolerate a GPS device that always directs us to the wrong address?
It doesn’t make sense to tolerate something that is wrong. Jesus’ statement in the Bible is like a GPS, it gives us the one correct route to our destination. Should we pout and whine because we demand additional correct routes? The truth is, if God were very righteous but not very loving, we would get what we deserve, zero paths to Heaven.
We may not like that there is only one path to Heaven. We may wish there were many different ways to experience joy and peace for all eternity. (Ever hear the popular saying, “All roads lead to the top of the mountain. All sincere paths lead to God”? Oh really? Where does it say that in Scripture?)
Ultimately, who has the authority to make the rules here? Is it us, the created beings? Or is it God, the Creator? It’s His universe. He has the right to make the ground rules. And the ground rules are clear: there is only one way to Heaven, and that is through Jesus. Don’t stand in a burning house and complain that it’s not fair. Race through the open path, embrace Jesus, and rejoice that there is a way to experience eternal joy.