Sunday, April 4, 2010

Choosing Hope

But as for me, I will always have hope; I will praise you more and more.

-- Psalm 71:14

We live in a world full of choices. Just go to the supermarket and you might find a dozen different brands of bottled water! Or drive to the nearest theater complex on any Friday night for a broad selection of movies...everything from cartoons for the kids to action-packed dramas for mom and dad. And speaking of driving, try counting all the new models of cars and trucks the auto industry introduces each year.

We also have no shortage of choices when it comes to religion. Like the sandwich items posted on a fast food menu board, there's something to fit everyone's taste and preference. And people like that. For many folks, which religion you choose doesn't matter--just so long as you're sincere in your beliefs and it makes you happy. They say it's all relative and that we're all worshipping the same god anyway.

But is that true? We know from the Bible that Jesus made some startling claims that contradict the popular assumptions of modern culture. He also backed them up. First, the Scriptures predicted Jesus' birth centuries before it happened. And in the Savior's brief time on earth, He cured the sick, raised the dead, forgave sins and became a living sacrifice to pay the price for all the wrongs of the world (just as God planned it long ago). His Resurrection from the grave--just as Jesus predicted it--proved His ultimate power over death. And 2,000 years later, Jesus' words continue to change lives and render hope.

Does this mean that Jesus is really the only way to God? The short answer is YES! Jesus proclaimed that no one can come to the Father (God) except through Him. And when His disciple, Philip, asked to see the Creator, Jesus reassured His followers that God was much closer than they expected. In fact, very close.

"Don't you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time?" asked Jesus. "Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, 'Show us the Father?'"

These claims, of course, make millions (maybe billions?) of people uncomfortable. They're claims of exclusivity. They're also much more than politically incorrect: modern pundits condemn them as "intolerant."

But the truth is much different. After all, Jesus' death and Resurrection make eternal life a certainty for EVERYONE who puts their faith in Him and accepts God's free gift of salvation! Christ refuses no one who asks for a new life through Him. And unlike manmade religions, the true way to God isn't about keeping certain rules, saying special prayers or eating (or not eating) particular foods. Instead, being a Christ-follower is about having a personal relationship with Jesus, accepting what He's already accomplished and letting Him live within.

Manmade religions are about "do." But Jesus is about "done."

It's what He did for us all on the cross. And in a world full of manmade ideas, faiths and religions, He's the only reason we can choose hope.

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