Lot's of things in life are narrow. For example, it doesn't matter how often I tell myself our dryer is shrinking all my pants; the narrow truth of it is that I'm fattening up (rather nicely, I might add). It doesn't matter how much you might believe, you will never fly like superman. It doesn't matter how many movies Keanu Reeves will be in, he'll never act like any character other than, well, Keanu.
Truth is narrow. That's what makes it truth. It may sound absolute and "close-minded" but it is what it is! Think about it ... Humans need oxygen to survive. Smoking is bad for you. George W. Bush is a weinee. All narrow, all true. (Okay, maybe a little subjective on that last one.)
Lot's of folks say Jesus is the only way to life with God... especially in eternity. How narrow of them! Absolutely. But is it true? If it's true than it's okay for it to be narrow, right?
Still others say that there are many roads to God... embracing religious systems that clearly oppose one another. Sure it feels good to no longer be "narrow," but is it true? Can we add Jesus to our utility-belt of spiritual options even though he boldly proclaimed that all other gods are false and that there is no other way to God except through him?
I know that like all religions Christianity can be viewed as an ideological system that we can pick and choose from; but Jesus cannot. Jesus is a real, historical person who made crazy claims! I care very little for abstract spiritual ideologies. I care much more about the people they're based on. We have to decide what to do with those people. People like Jesus.
He said he's one of the three persons in the eternal community of God (citing Father and Holy Spirit as the other two). He said he's eternal, without beginning or end. He said he created the world and loves us even though we abandoned him. He said he's the only way to reconcile with God and enter his "kingdom." He said that people who don't receive him can't enter the "kingdom." He said he must die to complete his payment for human guilt. He said people must be "born again" into that kingdom life. (All real statements Jesus made, recorded multiple times by multiple authors in the gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, John - unheard of historical literary credibility.)
What do we do with all that? With such outrageous claims, our options are limited. As one author put it, it only makes sense to call him liar, lunatic, or Lord. We can't call him a good person or a good teacher anymore than we could call Joseph Smith or Charles Manson a good person or teacher. Their claims were simply too extreme!
I know, I know, "You shouldn't label people." But when it comes to issues of life and death and eternity, we must. And Jesus challenged us to do just that. Label him. Judge him. Decide what to do with him. He even asked people point-blank, "Who do you say that I am?"
A lot of postmoderns in the West are comfortable with picking and choosing ideas from famous religious leaders without ever calling the person into question. The result is self-made religion... and they become the people upon whom their personal system is founded. They become the real flesh and blood people who are called into question.
My reason for ranting on about this is that there are growing numbers of postmodern "missional" Christians who have decided that being soft on truth is the loving thing to do. But as Psalm 85:10 says, in God, "lovingkindness and truth have met together. Righteousness and peace have kissed each other." Truth without love isn't really truth. Love without truth isn't really love. They are interdependent, inseparable realities. It's impossible to skip one without destorying both.
I love people. Sincerely. My heart breaks for family members, friends, and neighbors who are suffering under the soul-crushing weight of abuse, guilt, despair, self-condemnation, and shame. And on top of that, they continue pursuing sinful, self-destructive paths of self-medication that only mess them up even worse. My love mandates that I bring truth into the equation at timely, sensitive, opportune moments. After all, truth is the stuff of real hope; and our world is desperate for hope!
I earnestly pray that Christians would wake up from their apathetic, judgmental, false-truth-speaking slumber and begin loving the world with real love and real truth. Likewise, I also pray that those caught in the tide of our culture's confused pluralism would discover the nature of Jesus' love-filled, life-giving truth. It's narrow. It's absolute. And that's what makes it real and dependable as the seedbed of hope and transformation.