Summary: This is part 6 in a 7-part series I did on the "I Am" statements of Jesus in John.
June 22, 2003
“The Way, the Truth, and the Life”
I’ve got some good news and some bad news this morning. Let’s start with the good news! In The Gallup Guide: Reality Check for 21st Century Churches, author D. Michael Lindsay concludes, “Surveys record an unprecedented desire for religious and spiritual growth among people of all walks of life and in every region of the nation.” I like the sound of that! After 9/11, the Barna Research Group, a Christian agency, found in their polling that 65% of today’s young people want a close relationship with God, and about half say, “I want to make a difference in the world.” Four out of five teens say that their religious beliefs are very important in their lives. The vast majority of teens believe that the universe was created by God; 84% say that God is personally involved in people’s lives! 87% of our kids believe that Jesus was a real person who came to earth, and the vast majority of them believe that Jesus was born of a virgin. The proliferation of “WWJD” bracelets and necklaces and stuff of the last few years has certainly died down some, but still, many of our young people—and not a few older ones (I noted Dick Learned wearing a WWJD bracelet!)—are more willing to be identified with Jesus. If you take this as a good thing—and I am not certain that I automatically do, frankly—the sales of contemporary Christian music are way up; Christian bookstores dot the landscape, Christian radio and TV, for better, but often for much worse, proliferate. Good news!
There’s some bad news as well, I am afraid. Though better than four out of five of our young people believe that God is personally involved in people’s lives, 63% also believe that Muslims, Buddhists, Christians, Jews, etc. all pray to the same god. Nearly half say that Jesus committed sins while on earth, and a little over half don’t believe that Jesus actually rose from the grave. 48 percent of today’s teenagers say that they believe that it makes no difference what religious faith you associate with because they all believe the same thing, and 58% believe that all faiths teach equally valid truth. When the statement was made, “you can tell if something is morally/ethically right by whether or not it works in your life”, over 70% of teens agreed. There is no absolute truth in the minds of 70% of our teens; truth is merely “what works for you”, and is to be found subjectively; objective truth isn’t acceptable to talk about anymore. Sadly, even in many churches, we perpetuate this type of approach. The Bible study leader will read a verse and then ask little Sally, “what does this verse mean to you?”, and then Sally will give her version, to be followed by Johnny’s version and Mike’s version and…you get the idea. Sorry, folks, when we approach the Bible, it doesn’t matter what you think it means; what matters is what it actually does mean! But I digress…and so we come today to another of Jesus’ “I am” statements, wherein He says, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life; no man comes to the Father but by Me!”
Stand with me, if you would, as we read together John 14:1-7.
Every now and again, I like to suggest a book for your consumption. I believe that it is one of the great tragedies of American Christianity today that we do not read any more than we do, coupled with the fact that, when we Christians often do read, we read the equivalent of spiritual cotton candy. If you think you know what I’m talking about in making that statement, well, you probably do! I’ll leave it at that. I’m right now reading a book that is one of the most insightful I have ever read, and I am learning a great deal from the reading. It is not per se a Christian book, though it is certainly sympathetic to our beliefs. The book is available in our library, or will be shortly, and it is entitled Slouching Towards Gomorrah, by Robert Bork. If you recognize that name, you’ll remember that Bork was the victim of one of the great crimes of the twentieth century, publicly lynched as he was by many members of the U.S. Senate, most of which could fill neither his moral nor intellectual shoes. Had the lies of the liars not prevailed, and had Judge Bork been confirmed to the Supreme Court, it is likely that so much of the nonsense that continues to be handed down by the Court would never see the light of day. The subtitle of Bork’s book, “Modern Liberalism and American Decline”, gives the reader a foretaste of his subject matter, and he does not disappoint. He paints a bleak picture of