One way Jesus !
It is said that for Christians, it is but natural that we claim Jesus is the only way. Likewise for people of other faiths concerning their own prophets. This seemingly logical deduction is inconsistent to the bible, and the beliefs of the early Christians, but more importanly fail to account for the cruelty of religion against gays.
We start off in the first century of the Roman Empire where Christianity arose. The supremacy of the Roman empire meant that the Roman gods were supreme and to be worshiped throughout the empire. Caeser, the Roman emperor was worshipped as God and given the title Pontifex Maximus - the great bridge-builder to God. It was the refusal of the church to succumb to the Roman Religion that Caeser persecuted them from Nero (65-68 AD.) to Diocletian (303 AD.). Clearly for the early Christians, Jesus was the only way to salvation and acceptance by God. They could have so easily switched allegiances to the Roman Gods to avoid persecution and justify their actions intellectually that other religions are also legitimate channels to God. But they did not and many died keeping their faith in Jesus. When Emperor Constantine converted to Christianity in AD 313, naturally the supremacy of Rome meant that Christianity became the religion of the empire and the only way to God. But the Romans quickly reverted back to their pagan religions and the way to God was synonymous to membership of the Church.
Other mortal gods and new doctrines were added including the veneration and worship of the Pope, Mary, and the Saints. The Pope became the new Caeser of old taking on the same Roman god title "Pontifex Maximus". Essentially, by force, Rome was not able to conquer the faith of the believers in Christ Jesus. But by incorporating Christianity as the state religion, they were able to change and pervert Christianity from a Christ centered to a Church centered religion. Instead of Jesus, the Catholic church became supreme. Therefore, the Christian faith based on Jesus Christ as its core was compromised in AD 313 when the church started to dissolve the concept of Jesus being the only way and our salvation based solely on faith in Christ' resurrection. In summary, to claim that the concept of "One way Jesus" arose out of the supremacy of church is not meaningful for this concept was not the result of Rome but a biblical belief held so dear to the point of death by the early Christians. On the contrary, the Roman empire perverted it.
At the dawn of 0 AD, the Jews were searching for the way back to God. The temple worship was revived by Ezra 400 years earlier after the Jews returned from exile in Babylon in BC 458. They were exiled to Babylon when they sought after other religions and gods. However, for the last 400 years, God has not spoken through the prophets in their midst (the last prophet being Malachi in 435 BC). There was total silence as if God had deserted them for their sin. During this period, the center of power has shifted from the East to the West, to Rome. But Palestine was still a puppet state. Now in the midst of being occupied and ruled by a foreign power, the Romans, with their gods and religion, the Jews were again looking for their Messiah promised by God though the Prophet Isaiah in 53 who will save them. The Jews were trying their best to keep their faith to God in the midst of a multi religious environment where other cultures have their gods made of stone, and gold each with a character so different from the God they knew. Any attempts to stray to other gods had been severely dealt with previously although after much deliberation and mercy. God had been not happy with Israel for their constant one night stands with the other gods like a prostitute and had lifted his hand of protection as a result when the Assyrians came against Israel and Judah. The Jews were yearning for God to come back after their final indiscretion and return from exile. To even suggest that other gods and religion can be ways to God is far too simplistic and does not reconcile the contradicting attributes and character of the Jewish God and the other religions, and the explicit wrath of God against the other gods when the Jews dared to venture off to worship other gods. To suggest that other religions can be channels to God denies revelation, history, experience, and reasoning. We are denying God and making our salvation and hope in Christ without meaning by taking this extreme and open position. It shuts the gates of heaven for God's move. Have we not learnt that there was no voice from heaven, no touch from God for 400 years? How long do we want to wait and be subject to dryness without the dew from heaven? We are no different than gays who frequent the saunas weekly for different sex partners and perhaps worst because we claimed to be moral by our inclusivity .
It was highly unusual for any religious leader to claim to be God and to be the exact incarnation of God. So unnatural was this claim, that the desciples keep asking Jesus to show them the Father God despite all the miracles that Jesus had performed. They thought that Jesus was only a channel much alike the prophets of other religions. When Jesus hinted in John 14:3 that He would one day go back to the Father, they also wanted to follow and to know the way as if Jesus was the channel and would give them the laws, rules and instructions to follow just like in other religions to reach God and find favour in His eyes. But Jesus did not give them a thesis on love or good works, but told them to look to Him, to look at God. He is God and therefore able to proclaim in John 14:6 that He is the way, the truth and the life. No one can come to God except through Him. But Phillip still did not understand and repeated the desires of the rest for the way to God in John 14:8. Jesus chides them and so against us who believes likewise. The disciples could not comprehend why Jesus was the way, the truth, for He had not died for them. Jesus became the way when He died at the cross of Calvary , and we are saved in Christ Jesus.
In our arguments on the universal work of God as equally valid in our religions, we often cite great men and women of God and books written by authors of accepted credentials and bible college academics as guide to truths as if our reference to it make it correct. We have forgotten that we are fallen humanity and we are prone to indulge in our carnality and tendency to be religious. Such arguments questioning the centrality of Jesus, to a different gospel quickly surfaced after Jesus' death in the Church of Galatia (Gal 1:6,7). Paul warns us that -
We are opening ourselves to curses when we preached a gospel that devoid of Christ being the centrality. It is not that God will punish us, but His hand of protection and presence will be seemingly absent. There will be no tangible life and work of God through the Holy Spirit. Pray as we might both in words and tongues, seek as we may for the tangible presence of God, by His grace, God will have mercy on us. But pray that we need not wait for 400 years as the Jews did and forfeit our inheritance and calling for lives and ministry. David before the cross cried out to God not to take the presence of the Holy Spirit away yet we take it so casually the presence of God.
Can we ignore and reject people who belong to other faiths? We accept people of other faiths in love and giving them space to worship their god despite not reciprocated in countries where their faith predominates, for we are to demonstrate the love of Christ. We as people of faith should be open to dialog and to learnt from each other. However, we are not God to reject or accept people and determine the validity of the faith. Each must knock at the door which is Christ and be rejected themselves at judgment seat by this account. We should not equate racial and gender issues on the same plane as religion. Race and sexual orientation is not a matter of choice. We are born of a different races. We are born male or female, straight or gay. However, we are not born of a religious faith. A choice must be made. The real choices are not concerning gender but is a choice of faith. Ex-Gay organization such as Choices is itself a perversion and distraction for the church to preach the gospel. We can claim to be inclusive on what is intrinsic such as race, and gender but we are not God to claim inclusivity of other faiths. We are reminded of how Jesus dealt with the Samaritan Women. Jesus was inclusive of gender and race. But on the true path, Jesus did not confirm their religion, but directed her to Himself the living water. "True" worshipers (John 4:23), will worship God in Sprit and truth. In John 4:25,26, the basis and foundation of their worship will be that Jesus is their messiah, their Saviour. Therefore no longer one need to bring the sin sacrifice to either mountain for the laws that we break, for Jesus is our sin sacrifice, the fulfillment of the requirements of the law, the giver of eternal life.
The question of dialog, cooperation and engagement between different faiths need to be addressed and is not an option for a community life. We have much to learn from other faiths. It is not so much doctrine of Christ and we must detach ourselves from the need to insist that we must accept the validity of other faiths as being ways to God before we are open to dialog. Able to agree to disagree is the first step to dialog and to give each other space for beliefs and not to impose on each our ways. True Christian faith never imposes but loves the stranger in both words and deeds.
In Acts 10:46,47, the church became inclusive of race. Prior, to this incident, naturally for the Jewish Christians the way to God and salvation was not only Christ but also being a Jew. Therefore, gentiles who naturally had no say in being born as such could never become a Christian despite believing in Jesus Christ and worshiping God.
The work of the Holy Spirit in the lives of the centurion confimed God's acceptance of their faith in Christ Jesus. It is manifested in the speaking of tongues which is despised by many conservatives and liberals who calls for sensitivity not realising that this is the norm for Christian community life. We are no more exclusive than the Jews. We exclude those who speak in tongues. We would have on this account rejected the centurion hence God's ministry to the gentiles.
God corrected the beliefs of Peter not to include race as a criteria and to re-emphasis that the way to God is through Jesus Christ alone. We are not to add additional requirements. Neither are we to take away the stipulated requirement and the centrality of Jesus Christ. God shows no partiality to what we have no control over - our race, culture, gender, and sexual orientation. He made it simple and asked us to make only one choice - to believe in His son Jesus that He came and died for the forgiveness of our sins. There is only one straight path and the christian faith has been perverted by those who steer to the extreme left who has taken out the absoluteness of Christ and by those on the extreme right who has like the jews added the requirements of law.
Some areas of modern christianity has been derived from Philosophy which the early church have had to deal with. Ancient Athens gained fame as the home of philosophers and sculptors, and for its early experiments in democracy . In Acts 17:16, Paul walked around the city and saw so many sculptured idols and was disturbed by it. The Athenians made sculptures of their gods. There were gods for virtually everything, and these gods resembled characters of real humans with special powers. The Greek mythology was like a large drama series with the intrigue of power, greed, jealousy , adultery, infidelity, and goodness. Of primary importance were the Olympians - group of 12 gods who are related in some way. They are named after their dwelling place, Mount Olympus. In the eye of the beholder, these may be beautiful and channels to the one true god. But these are gods that have been created by our hands and we live in delusion if we believe they lead to Jesus. In Acts 17:24, 25 Paul declares that the true God who created heavens and earth does not reside in the altar created by them, nor can we worship God through man made items, for God is far above these being the creator himself of all this things. How could one worship the creator by what he created ? as though he is below his creation.
In Acts 17:29, these former times when we grope like a blind man not knowing the true God, and search for him in the wrong places, God will forgive because we are ignorant. But now (Acts 17:30,31), God has called everyone to turn away from these false gods of our own creation, to change their views and turn to Jesus. because one day, there will be a judgment by God of whom you believed. The judgment whether one is righteous before God will be based upon whether you believed and accept the person ordained by God to be our Savior, Jesus Christ. Paul proclaimed that Jesus physical resurrection from the dead is the undisputed assurance that Jesus righteousness has been accepted by God, and though Jesus so to would you be accepted before God at the judgment seat. In Acts 17:32, when the Athenians heard this, they were shocked. But, some were willing to consider this new teaching. The Athenians worship their intellect, their god is their intellect. Yet, their intellect could never reach God. Because ultimately it is faith in the Jesus death and resurrection which could not be intellectually understood.
We minister to the Gay Community the love of God as manifested in the good news because people need the lord. As Gays, we need Jesus no less than any other people but perhaps much more. For generally, great is our suffering, persecution, oppression and pain. We need Jesus to minister to us and our community. We could not be afford being sidetracked to a false gospel and reach a dead end where our people will die in the desert searching for the living waters but mislead by the mirage of the hot desert day. We have no other choice but to believe that Jesus is the only way for we need the true God of the heavens and earth and not the gods created in our minds. As a Gay Christian, we need Jesus and His precious blood every hour to lead an overcoming life filled with the power and strenght of God.