This morning a Scientologist began to explain to me the basic teachings of his religion. When I told him I believe in God and Jesus, he assured me that Scientology has no conflict with any religion people want to choose and that it in fact works together with other religions.
I don’t know much about Scientology, but I do know Christianity does not cooperate with other religions. People accuse Christianity of being exclusive, and I will openly admit the Bible rejects any way to God and eternal life except through Jesus. Christianity refuses to give ground to any religion that does not accept Jesus as the only God and Savior. Many religions include parts of truth, but without Jesus, Christianity teaches that these religions cannot give life. In the end, they lead people to death.
“Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).
I am unashamed to hold to Christ even more tightly because of his exclusivity. He is as exclusive as the captain of a ship offering rescue to someone adrift in the ocean.
The castaway clutches a floating piece of wood rather than trying to swim on his own and drowning before he can reach land. Yet the wood alone is not able to save him. It offers no protection against starvation, dehydration, freezing, or shark attacks. In the middle of the ocean, it would take a miracle for the wood to carry the man to safe land before he died. The wood only gives the man hope to survive long enough for rescue.
Then a ship comes by, and the captain finds the castaway in the water. The sailors on board wave their arms in the air and shout that his rescue is there. But the castaway refuses to listen, clutching even tighter to his wood. “He’s delirious!” the sailors cry. They wonder how long he must have been adrift to not recognize his need of rescue. They say to each other, “Perhaps dehydration and exposure to the elements have already destroyed his mind.”
Next the captain of the ship comes out on the deck and throws a lifeline to the castaway. “Grab a hold of this!” he urges. The sailors shout, “Take it! Take it!” If only the man would exchange the wood for the rope, then the captain promises to pull him to safety. “If you don’t take the line, you’ll die!”
“Don’t be so exclusive!” the man responds with a parched voice. His throat is cracked and his stomach sick from gulping sea water when waves came over his head. But he hangs onto the wood with the meager strength he can muster. Pulling his body further onto the wood, he says, “You have your way, and I have mine. Why should your truth be better than mine?”
With exasperation, the captain says back, “Because yours leads to death, while mine gives life!”
Now is that an exclusive statement? Sure it is. But it is also true. Christianity is exclusive to other attempts at rescue, like the wood. Christianity insists there is no other way to life. Yet there is good news in all this. Christ is inclusive when it comes to who he offers to rescue. He didn’t start a country club where only the privileged can apply for membership. Like the captain, he wants to save those adrift, and he reaches out to the whole world. Christ threw the lifeline so that all a castaway needs to do is grab on and not let go.
“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” (John 3:16).