I love living on the Olympic Peninsula! One of the challenges of living here is that there are only a few alternative routes to and from the Tacoma/ Seattle area. Your options are to use the Washington State Ferry System, the Narrows Bridge or driving around through Olympia. I wish there were more routes but the geography limits the number of alternatives. When it comes to spiritual matters I have heard it said, “All roads lead to heaven.” The thinking is that all religions are the same and they all lead to the same place. This is a naive way of thinking because each major religion is unique.
To the Atheist, who only believes in the existing universe, there is no such thing as heaven. The Pantheist is a person that believes that the universe and God are the same. It would include those who are Hindu, Buddhist and New Age. Heaven or more correctly Nirvana for them is when you become one with the creation. The road to heaven is driven by karma. Hopefully you will create enough good karma so that you can advance to the next level in the reincarnation cycle. Heaven or Paradise is obtained by the Muslim by faithfully performing the five Pillars of Truth. This includes reciting “There is no god but Allah, and Mohammed is his prophet,” praying five times a day facing Mecca, giving alms to the poor, fasting during the month of Raman and a pilgrimage to Mecca. Paradise is a place of celebration and happiness and according to the Koran offers a place of eating, drinking and an abundance of beautiful virgins. What is interesting about these religions and others is the focus on what man must do.
Christianity like Judaism and Islam believes in one God (monotheism). Monotheism is unique in that it teaches that an uncreated (eternal) God created the universe and also works in the universe through miracles. The emphasis in Christianity is that of God reaching down to man. God does this through the sacrificial death of His Son, Jesus Christ, so that the sin barrier between God and mankind would be removed. The resulting forgiveness and restoration, known as salvation, is appropriated in any person’s life by accepting what Jesus has done for them in His death, burial and resurrection. The driving force in Christianity is not human works but receiving God’s grace. The result is a person experiences “eternal life” which emphasizes both the quantity of one’s relationship with God (forever) and the quality of life that comes through the changes produced by one’s relationship with God. Christianity teaches that a person only lives one life and must choose Jesus during their lifetime or face, after death, a judgement by God.
If you take the time to study what the founders of other religions taught you will be surprised. Every major religion claims to point to the truth. Buddhism says truth is found through an eight fold path and if you strive all your life, you may eventually discover the truth. But Buddha at the end of his life in a famous statement said, “I’m still searching for the truth.” The Hindu scripture says truth is very illusive and you’ll probably never find it. It’s like a butterfly and just about the time you grab it, it’ll fly off. Others say truth must be searched for by purifying yourself by chanting and maybe you just might get to the truth. Mohammed said I’m a prophet and I point toward the truth. But Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)
I wish that there were many roads to heaven, but like living on the Olympic Peninsula the options are even more limited. Only one way can lead you to heaven. Choose wisely!
-Pastor Joe Parkinson