I’ve never considered myself to be a religious person, but I’ve always considered myself a staunch believer in Christ Jesus as God. The pomp & circumstance of church never appealed to me but I still consider myself a Christian.
As it so happens, when people know that I’m a Christian but they themselves are not believers, the conversation tends to go like this: “I believe in something, but I don’t know what. I’m not an atheist but I’m a good person.”
What is this good person stuff about? It never made any sense to me why non-believers, 100% of the time, use this as a clarifier when describing their own religious inclinations to me.
I had a conversation in which a friend said, “I don’t believe Jesus is the only way to get into Heaven because I really can’t believe that a serial killer can get into Heaven just because he believes that Jesus is God and that all the Jews are going to Hell, even the ones that do good things.”
Like I said, I consider myself to be a Christian, so the idea that being a good person has anything to do with salvation is foreign to me, but I can explain why I believe the way that I do.
Imagine you’re on the shore of Massachusetts. You look east across the expanse of the Atlantic Ocean. You want to make your way across the Atlantic Ocean to France. Lucky for you, you’ve trained as a swimmer your entire life. To up the ante, let’s just say you’re Michael Phelps and you’re wanting to swim across the Atlantic Ocean.
No matter how much you’ve trained, you’re not going to make it across the Atlantic Ocean by yourself. No matter how good of a swimmer you are, no matter how much you’ve trained or how dedicated and focused you are on accomplishing your goal, you will die in the ocean.
Unless you have a boat to save you, you will die. You will miss your mark and you will never make it to France.
You (as Michael Phelps) say, “This isn’t fair. I’m a great swimmer. I’m better than everybody else. In fact I have more gold medals in swimming so I’m the best in the world. I will make it to France because I’m a good swimmer.”
Never mind the fact that you’d die of fatigue, the elements, animal attack or hunger, and generally couldn’t accurately map a course while swimming across the ocean, you dive in and start swimming. Eventually, you succumb to one of the many obstacles and die in the ocean.
On the flip side, Benoît Lecomte jumps in and starts swimming. He has the same goal, to swim across the Atlantic. He wants to make it to the other side, but he knows that no matter how good of a swimmer he is, he can’t do it on his own. Lecomte decides that he’s bringing a boat. This boat is where he rests between swims, has food aboard and protects him from elements and animals. In 1998 Lecomte did just that – he swam across the Atlantic in 73 days and made it to the other side. He could never have accomplished his goal without the aid of a boat.
Now some may argue, “Hey, that’s not fair. Anybody could charter a boat and swim a couple hours a day until they ultimately reach the other side. Heck, they could do zero swimming and still reach the other side of the Atlantic with a boat. That’s not fair! You should have to be a good swimmer to be able to reach the other side. People who have trained all their life to swim and really care about this goal should be able to reach the other side, not just anybody who gets on a boat.”
When it comes down to it, your ability to swim or how hard and dedicated you were to swimming is not the deciding factor as to whether or not you will accomplish your goal. The only deciding factor is – Do You Have A Boat?
Just like in swimming, in life, how good you are according to your own personal, arbitrary standard is not the deciding factor as to whether or not you’re getting into Heaven. If Jesus is the only way to God, which I believe it is, He is your boat. If you want to make it to the other side, you have to get on the boat.