I had a restaurant employee where I was having lunch two days ago ask me that very question. It was a thoughtful and sincere question that many people in our culture are asking. They can’t understand that a “loving God” would allow people to choose a different path and spend eternity separated from what we call “heaven” in the presence of God, and all that is good.
It didn’t take long until this person shared that someone had rejected him because he wasn’t a Christian. He felt like the belief that Jesus is the only way to enter a relationship with God felt like an excuse to marginalize him, judge and push him away. He asked, “Do you really believe that people who don’t believe in Jesus will be in hell?”
I responded to his question by quoting the words of Jesus himself. John 14:6 says 6 Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” It’s not my opinion that matters, it’s what Jesus says is true that will never change and I must hold on to.
Why is Jesus so exclusive? Why can’t he create a bunch of roads to himself so that more people might be able to have the life to the fullest that Jesus came to give us?
There are many answers to this question, but let me list just a few.
1. God is a jealous God and doesn’t want us to worship anyone else but Him (Exodus 20:3). He spends the entire Old Testament era trying to get his people to give up their false gods and worship only Jehovah God. In this era, we still struggle to keep Jesus in the first place of our life too.
2. Peter recognized that Jesus had a unique message found no where else when he said, 68 Simon Peter answered Him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life. 69 "We have believed and have come to know that You are the Holy One of God." (John 6:68-69). Jesus offers a life to the fullest that can be found no where else (John 10:10).
3. Salvation comes through faith in Jesus Christ alone. Ephesians 2:8-9 tells us, “8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-- 9 not by works, so that no one can boast.” All other religious systems require you to do the right things (works) to earn your way to God or appease spirits, Jesus only requires surrendering your life to him without a list of things you must do.
4. There is no biblical support for many roads leaving to God. If the Bible is your final authority, then we see that even Jews must embrace the messiah Jesus to have eternal life (Acts 10).
5. Though Jesus is the only way, he extends his offer of eternal life to anyone, anywhere, anytime. John 3:16-18 says, 16 "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. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son.
So, while there is one way to enter into relationship with God and become his son or daughter through faith in Jesus Christ (John 1:12), his arms are open to any, and all who call on His name. Romans 10:13 says, 13 for, "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved."
That’s really good news for a world that is searching for meaning, hope and a power that will change their lives.