Over the course of the last couple of weeks, the western Gulf of Mexico has experienced two hurricanes, Gustav, which struck Louisiana, and Ike that hit the northern Texas coast this weekend.
State and federal officials communicated with some certainty, that both storms would be tremendous events, with significant threats to human life and property. Mandatory evacuation orders were issued and many residents left their homes. In the case of Hurricane Ike, residents of Galveston were told that unless they left the island, they faced “certain death.” Fortunately, that was not the case, and neither Gustav nor Ike proved to be as intense as originally expected.
As I reflect on the predictions of Hurricane Ike, the statement “certain death” is the one that keeps surfacing, particularly the way in which it was expressed with such certainty. In retrospect, there was no absolute certainty, to their certainty, as the casualties from the storm are not reflective of that prediction. So, has certainty become relative? Is it possible that we can only be “relatively” and not “absolutely” certain about future events?
I recall learning as a kid from my Dad that the only two things in life that are certain, are death and taxes. Experience would suggest that it is hard to argue with that. But faith suggests to me that there is at least one other thing that is absolutely certain. And that is, the course to eternal life runs through Jesus Christ, and ONLY through Jesus Christ.
John 14: 6 says:
“I [Jesus] am the way, and the truth and the life. NO ONE (emphasis mine) comes to the father except through me [Jesus].”
Dogmatic? Yeah. Exclusive? You bet. Ambiguous?. Hard to see how!
Before he was disgraced by his moral failure a couple of years ago, I watched Ted Haggard, former president of the National Association of Evangelicals, being interviewed on one of the major television networks. Sadly, when he was asked if he thought Jesus Christ was the only way to God, he expressed sort of an equivocated certainty. His answer was something to the effect of “maybe there are other ways to get to God, but he was at least confident in this one,” (that being through Jesus Christ, and he quoted John 14: 6). But his “certainty” was relative, otherwise, why offer up the possibility of there being other ways? He was revealing a certain lack of faith by being only relatively certain of Jesus’ own claim that NO ONE comes to the father except through Him.
In the fullness of faith, I want my witness to be the certainty of Christ’s claim of exclusivity. And about that, I am absolutely certain.