This post is written from a personal Christian Biblical point of view.
For most religious people the way to God is men’s religious and good work. For the Muslims the way is proclaiming their faith in Muhammed and Allah, praying five times daily, giving charity, fasting in the Ramadan, and go on a pilgrimage to Mekka. Their religious leader is the imam, and probably, he has the same authority in Islam as the rabbis and priests have in Judaism, and the pope and the priests have in Catholicism and the pastors had in old times (and in some other Christian congregations).
From the Old Testament we learn that the Jews had to obey the ten commandments and the law of Moses. Most jews couldn’t speak to God directly. Only the prophets and the high priests could come close to God. Only the high priests could come to the holies of holies in the temple and come close to God, and the high priests needed to give many animals to sacrifice to God for his own sins and his people’s sins, which we can read about in the Pentateuch and the letter to the Hebrews.
I only know a little about modern Catholics, but I know they pray Hail Mary’s, have many rituals, and they consider it very important to attend church. They believe the pope to be Christ’s vicar on Earth, and they think highly about their priests.
The way to God in different religions seems hard and complicated. They say, there is a lot of stuff man must do to find his way to God.
For the evangelical Lutheran Christians
For many evangelical Lutheran Christians, the way to God is Jesus. Most Christians know this verse:
Jesus said: I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14,6)
We need to be aware that man is not the way to God. We need to be aware that man’s actions are not the way to God. We need to know that we can’t build a way to God. The way to God is already there, and its name is Jesus.
The author of the letter to the Hebrews made clear that Jesus, by his blood, is the way to God. He is the direct way to God. He is our perfect, eternal high priest:
Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. (Heb 10,19-22)
The fellowship with other brothers and sisters in Christ and the prayer for each other are important. Sometimes a brother gives an important word to another brother. In the end, Jesus is the high priest, and he is the one who has the authority. When we believe him, we have the Holy spirit and together with the knowledge of the Bible, which is important, we can through Jesus communicate directly with God.
The prophet Jeremiah predicted the new covenant of Jesus’ blood that gave the forgiveness of the sins, and he predicted that the believers in Christ would get the Holy Spirit and get a personal relationship with God:
“The days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and with the people of Judah. 32 It will not be like the covenant I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they broke my covenant, though I was a husband to[d] them,[e]” declares the Lord.33 “This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time,” declares the Lord. “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. 34 No longer will they teach their neighbor, or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord, ’because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest,” declares the Lord. “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” (Jer 31,31-34)
While we need to know the Bible, the most important commandment is:
‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ (Matt 22,37-39)
If we know Jesus, we must love his children:
A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13,34-35)
We can’t ignore the commandment of love.
The Jews found it very important to be a good person and they wished to do God’s works, so they asked Jesus:
Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?” 29 Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.” (John 6,28-29)
It’s very important to believe in Jesus. That is a work of God.
Abraham was not a perfect man. He did a lot of questionable things. But God promised him that would bless him and make him into a great nation. Abraham was very old and had no children, but he believed God, and God credited it to him as righteousness:
“After this, the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision: “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward.” 2 But Abram said, “Sovereign Lord, what can you give me since I remain childless and the one who will inherit my estate is Eliezer of Damascus?” 3 And Abram said, “You have given me no children; so a servant in my household will be my heir. 4 Then the word of the Lord came to him: “This man will not be your heir, but a son who is your own flesh and blood will be your heir.” 5 He took him outside and said, “Look up at the sky and count the stars—if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring[d] be.”6 Abram believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness.” (Gen 15,1-6)
The most important thing you can do, is to believe that Jesus is the son of God. Before Jesus told the disciples that he was the way, he said:
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me.”
The first Christians didn’t call themselves Christians, but followers of the way, i.e., the way to God. The way to God is simple, narrow, challenging – and hard. We’re told that we should be like God:
“Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children 2 and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” (Eph 5,1-2)
We wish to walk in the way of love, but this is not natural for our sinful nature. It’s impossible to walk in this way without the Holy Spirit.
To follow Jesus is to believe in him and to get to know him. It is to learn from him and do as him.
Jesus “made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!” (Phil 2,7-8)
We’re told to be humble in the same way as Jesus and deny ourselves:
“Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” (Matt 16,24)
The way is simple, and hard and narrow:
“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” (Matt 7,13-14)
Religious people tend to be religious. They often have a lot of rituals, many rules and do a lot of religious things. They tend to listen much to their leaders, read a lot in their Bibles, attend church, fast and pray a lot. Whatever we do, it will never be enough. It will never be good enough.
It will never be easy to be a Christian. It will never be easy to follow Jesus. It will never be easy to choose to walk in the way of love. It will never be easy to admit that we’re sinners and need to repent. It will never become easy to see our own flaws and weaknesses. It will never be easy to realize that we can’t make ourselves holy and justify ourselves. We need God’s grace!
Let’s pray with Paul’s words in his letter to the Ephesians:
“I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit[f] of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. 18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, 19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength 20 he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, 21 far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.” (Eph 1,17-21)