I am home for Christmas! and I have a story to tell.
Usually when I travel, I have a strong expectancy that God has set up divine appointments on the road, at the airport, and on the plane. Sure enough, on my plane ride home, I sat next to a woman who is working to build bridges between Christians, Muslims, and Jews in the Middle East. She leads gatherings of hundreds of people from different religious groups for the purpose of coming together to pray and to reconcile their division. I listened as she told me how she believes that all of these religions ultimately worship the same deity and that the chief goal of each religion is to be the best Muslim, Jew, or Christian one can be.
That’s not what I believe, I thought to myself. Jesus Christ is the only way to the Father. I asked Holy Spirit what I should say in defense of my faith, and I heard him whisper, “Just listen.”
So, I continued to listen as she candidly shared her concerns about religious division in the world. Who will bridge the gap? Who will be peacemakers? Will we ever be able to see beyond religion? Wow, I thought. This woman’s intentions are amazing, but is it truly possible to find lasting peace when the core of these faiths are so oppositional?
All the while, the words of Jesus played in my mind like movie screen,
“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come tto set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” Matthew 10
With words such as these, can religions with opposing viewpoints truly ever find peace? If good works are enough to suffice us to get inherit salvation, how good does one have to be? Can one ever be truly assured that they are good enough and who is the judge to make the final decision?
“So what do you do?” she asked me.
“I’m a student,” I responded, knowing what was coming next.
“What do you study?” She had asked the golden question. Never knowing what kind of response my answer will get from strangers, I replied,
“I go to Bible college.”
“Oh. What made you decide to do that?”
Before I answered, I heard that gentle whispering voice again, “Testimony.”
“I go to a school that believes God is present today and is still a God of miracles, and that’s been my experience.” And I shared a testimony about how I saw a tumor the size of half a soccer ball completely shrink and disappear in a matter of minutes as we prayed in the name of Jesus.
As I was sharing, I knew I had a moment of choice to be brave. So I went for it…
“When I experienced the love of God and His grace, I was completely changed. I believe that being “good” enough will never be sufficient to earn my way into heaven. Even on my best and purest day, I am lacking and falling short. That’s why I need Jesus, the perfect sacrifice, who was without sin and died for our sins, that we may become right with God. His righteousness is a gift and impossible to earn. Because God loved me this way, it makes me free to love others. I am thankful that I can’t earn my way! I am thankful that He paid the price so that I may live.”
As I was sharing, it was as though I was reminding myself the truth and the foundation of what I believe. And I was filled with so much joy that I started laughing, as I was reminding myself and declaring to this stranger the Truth of the Gospel. No other religion offers what Christ did for us on the Cross. Jesus Christ is the one true God and Savior of the world.
We continued our conversation, and my respect and honor grew for this amazing woman. She shared her concerns for our nation in that we seem so far off from being united over the issue of race. I shared my opinion that I am a part of a new generation that aims to see people for who they are based on their character, and not on their outward appearance. She shared her hopelessness for the world in that we are so far off from where we should be, and I shared my hope that a generation of people is arising that will come together in unity like never before. In my heart, I know this is what revival will look like. As opposed to riots in the streets, it will looks like dancing in the streets. Who will bridge the gap? Who will be the peacemaker to see this movement ignited? The answer is Jesus, the ultimate bridge, the greatest peacemaker, who reconciled us back to the Father, and us, His Children, who carry His glory.
Instead of getting so upset that we were led to argue about our theological differences, I was filled with great assurance that God set up this meeting. Where we see problems and differences, God sees an opportunity.
I asked if it would be alright that I pray for her, and she said yes. So I prayed that God would invade her meetings and they’d encounter Jesus like they’ve never experienced before. Who knows whether this woman is going to eventually lead hundreds to Christ through these meetings? I believe it is very possible, for appointments of these kind are never coincidental.