Store up for yourselves treasures in Heaven
where moth and rust cannot destroy and thieves cannot break in and steal

Sunday, January 30, 2011

“Don’t Worry Be Happy”

Remember that song from a few years back? If I remember correctly the writer killed himself.

Actually that’s not the point of this post. I saw a thing today where Oprah (20 Important Questions - CNN)is telling people to be careful so they don’t worry needlessly. That’s good advice. Like the saying goes, “Worry is like a rocking chair. It gives you something to do but it doesn’t get you anywhere.” Problem is, Oprah tells people to not be worried about stuff that Jesus says they should be worried a great deal about - like hell.

Jesus spoke about hell more than anyone else in the Bible. He warned people about hell more than He encouraged them about heaven. Jesus knew that in just a few years after He was tortured to death (“If they hated Me they’ll hate you also.”), many of those who followed Jesus would be sawn in two, pulled apart by horses, crucified, burned to death, run through with swords and spears, lose their jobs, be thrown into prison and on and on. This is a pattern that continues with increasing ferocity up to the present, and then He says, “Don’t worry about this. Don’t worry about those who can kill the body. What you should worry about, is the fact that when history comes to an end, those who have refused My offer of forgiveness will be cast into hell for eternity, where the smoke of their torment will rise forever and ever. That is what you should be worried about.”

Atheists rail against talking about hell because they say it’s manipulative. Ya, manipulative like telling people to get out of a burning building, like telling people to stay off of ice on the river that’s too thin to support their weight; like telling people to jump down the escape chutes of a crashed and burning plane, like telling your child not to play in a busy street, like telling people to not have unprotected sex. Pure manipulation - Pfft!

Functional atheists like Oprah tell people, “Don’t worry about hell. Be happy!”

THAT, in my mind is the worst kind of manipulation.

According to Oprah and her millions of enlightened followers, as long as “your heart is right” (whatever that means), God will welcome you with open arms. Neither atheists nor Oprah explain just how right a person’s heart has to be, or according to whose scale of rightness we must adhere. One thing they’re sure of, it isn’t Creator God’s scale of rightness that we need to pay attention to. On the other hand, it’s probably fair to say that atheists, Oprah and every last one of her followers believe that for us to reach our spiritual goal (whatever that is) our hearts must be at least as right as their hearts. That’s why Jesus the Christ and the religion that bears His name are rejected by atheists, Oprah and her followers. After all, Jesus is the only religious leader who has or ever will proclaim with absolute clarity that none of us, not a single person on planet earth is right enough to be acceptable to God in our natural state.

I mention Oprah not because she is overtly evil. In fact Oprah’s enormous resources have allowed her to do tremendous good for many, many people. People would say and I’m sure that she would agree, “Her heart is right. Oprah means well. She tries to do the right thing.” No, the reason that I mention Oprah is that while there are relatively few professing atheists in the world (those who truly believe there is no God), there may be a billion or more what I call Functional Atheists - those who live as though God, as He is described in the Bible, does not exist. Functional atheists believe that God’s desires for us are no more relevant for our lives than those of the next door neighbour. It is my belief that Oprah has singlehandedly turned more people away from Jesus than any other spiritual leader perhaps in all of history. She has done this by assuring her followers that they are correct in what they already want to believe, i.e., Jesus is not the Way, the Truth and the Life. Millions of people trust Oprah. Virtually all American news magazines were unanimous in the opinion that Oprah’s influence elected President Obama. Because people trust Oprah, because they believe in her, so to speak, she has been able to convince people that their personal quest for “salvation” and their individual ideas about how to deal with their sin and guilt are just as valid as any other spiritual path that humans have invented. In her own words, and in direct opposition to the teaching of Jesus, “There are many paths to God.”

Now of course, for Oprah and for anyone else whose lives reflect the fact that they’ve rejected Jesus as Lord, this type of thinking is understandable. In fact it can and should be expected. Whether it’s Thomas Jefferson who needs to justify screwing his female slaves by cutting out all descriptions of miracles in the Bible or whether it’s someone else needing to justify living common-law with h/her current person of interest, denying the authority of the Bible over one’s life is a requisite first step. Convincing others to follow along in the simple-minded belief that large numbers of like-thinkers have the power to magically turn something from wrong into right is the next step.

Of course, the idea that we’re all on the same road to God or that there are many paths to God is ludicrous. Jesus said, “If you do not believe that I Am who I say I Am, you will die in your sins.” The answer to the question, “Was He right?” is not in the same category of questions like, “What is the most pleasing thing in life?” or “How would you describe the perfect holiday?” The answer to the question of Creator God’s existence is of the same order as the answer to the question, What is 2 + 2? The answer will either be right or it will be wrong. Period!

. If God has revealed Himself to us, as Jesus said that He has, and

. If God has provided a path of belief that is intended to lead us to Him, again as Jesus said that He has, and

. If our very salvation depends on us following the path that has been laid out for us by Creator God, as Jesus said that it does,

. Then other paths or alternate paths can only lead us away from Creator God, and not to Creator God.

To know what Jesus taught and to then deliberately choose to follow Buddhism or Native Religion or The Secret or anything else instead cannot and will not place you on the same path to God as Jesus directed.

There are several thousand answers to the questions, What is God like? and How can we know Him? Some of those answers will be closer to correct than others in their understanding of Creator God. However, one thing is certain, there is only one correct answer to, “Is Jesus the Way, the Truth and the Life?” and not just any old path will lead you to the correct answer.

Jesus has said that He is the only way by which salvation may be known and He is either correct or He isn’t. Jesus of Nazareth is either telling the truth or else He is a liar of grand proportion. Either He is the One through whom your sins can be forgiven or He isn’t. No other religious leader has made the type of claims that were made by Jesus and no other religious leader has provided the confirming evidence that Jesus provided so that we may fairly and logically believe His claims.

A decision must be made, and according to Jesus there are eternal consequences to how we answer His question of “Who do you say that I Am?” Jesus may be many things to many people but one thing He isn’t. Jesus is not ‘sort of important.’ If He is correct in what He taught, then what you do with Jesus is the most important decision that you will ever make.

So, are you going to believe what Jesus says about Himself and salvation, or are you going to believe what Oprah says about Jesus and salvation? Either Jesus is correct or Oprah is correct. It can’t be both.

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