There is one verse that is attributed to Jesus that I just cannot stand. It is so exclusionary, and everything I know about Jesus is all about welcome and love. The words are from John 14:6 “Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
Perhaps you’ve heard them spouted at you by a person who used it as their final statement in a religious discussion that became an argument. It is the Christian version of “I told you so!” and “Because!”
Those words don’t allow any wiggle room. They don’t allow any discussion. They don’t allow any love.
You have to forgive the Christians. This is what they are taught. But it sure seems that some Christians are taught the “no one may come to the Father” verse more than “thou shalt not judge” and the “love your neighbor” ones.
They are taught these lines so that they feel a sense of “I’m right.” It makes them feel like they have made the right choice. They are in the club.
The only bad thing is then they use that line as a club.
That line becomes a weapon.
It becomes a division sign rather than a plus sign.
For me, being Christian should mean that you take that club and turn it into a hammer to build a Habitat for Humanity house. Or you turn it into a shovel to dig up land to grow vegetables for Second Harvest. It means you stop being selfish and start to become self-less.
It doesn’t mean that you should beat people over the head with your religion. If you have to attack people to prove your faith is right, you are doing it wrong.
You have to forgive these Christians. This behavior is very human. People like to feel like they are on the winning team. And they hate to think of their friends as being out in the cold. So really, they are trying to get you to join their team. They think they are being helpful.
The more I think about it, the more that line doesn’t sound right. It sounds really mean. I keep hoping it has been mistranslated. The “Lord’s Prayer” retranslated from the original Aramaic is a lot more mystical and beautiful – so I’m hoping that this is the same way.
I have wrestled with that line for years. When I read it, I come to a full stop. I hit a wall that I just don’t know how to deal with. It just goes against everything else that Jesus said. When I read it, I got stuck on the word “through.” Nobody can get to God without going through Jesus? Why is he standing in the way? Is he a bodyguard?
I think I’ve come up with a solution.
It means that people need to serve God in the same way that Jesus did. It means that they need to be submissive to God. It means that they need to put their own wishes and wants second and God’s will first. It means that they need to obey God even if it means giving up their lives. It means that they recognize that everything they have in life, even life itself, is a gift from God, so if He wants it back, they have to give it up.
In Living Buddha, Living Christ” by Thich Nhat Hanh said on page 55-56
“When Jesus said,”I am the way,” He meant that to have a true relationship with God, you must practice His way. I the Acts of the Apostles, the early Christians always spoke of their faith as “the Way.” To me, “I am the way” is a better statement than “I know the way.” The way is not an asphalt road. But we must distinguish between the “I” spoken by Jesus and the “I” that people usually think of. The “I” in His statement is life itself. His life, which is the way. If you do not really look at His life, you cannot see the way. If you only satisfy yourself with praising a name, even the name of Jesus, it is not practicing the life of Jesus. We must practice living deeply, loving, and acing with charity if we wish to truly honor Jesus. The way is Jesus Himself and not just some idea of Him. A true teaching is not static. It is not mere words but the reality of life. Many who have neither the way nor the life try to impose on others what they believe to be the way. But these are only words that have no connection with real life or a real way.”
I find it interesting that a Buddhist monk has a better grasp on Jesus than many Christians.