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Monks Amuck

"I am the way, the truth, and the life...." (John 14:6)

Roads. They are pathways to somewhere, or maybe in the case of unfinished roads, nowhere. We love to walk paths in the forest and drive on open roads. They are a pathway to somewhere we either need to or would love to go. We enjoy to travel through wide open spaces that lead to special places. Think of the path depicted in the old winter musical rhyme , "Over the river and through the woods to grandmother's house we go..." The vivid picture of a sleigh filled with loving, joyously songful family driving through the woodsy path to grandma's house fills our minds with images of better days. Of making a journey and getting to a wonderful place, a place of joy and bliss.

In the ancient Far and Near East, men and women seeking God looked to withdraw from the landscape and blend into a natural, secluded setting where they could be alone to pursue God. It was thought that the journey to God was a very narrow spiritual path, a rocky road that acended to the Almighty through the monastic disciplines of hours of scheduled prayers, solitude alone with God, and long, deep times of meditation on portions of Scripture. The rest of the time was filled with necessary chores of life to maintain one's sustenance. This was the life of the devoted monk in the monastery. What was universally forgone were the pleasures of this world. To reach out and grab hold of the other world, one of bliss and union with God, it was believed that one had to let go of this one. Such was believed to be the path of the righteous. Today, many people do a similar thing, getting alone and secluded, but now to "commune with nature and all living things." Variations on a theme as all are seeking God in their own power and in their preferred path. But the theme is the same: we are seeking to choose our own road to the divine.

Yet, is this the biblical road? Are these ways the way that God tells us to seek Him in the Bible? Surely, Jesus told us Himself that the road to heaven was a, "narrow... road that leads to life, and only a few find it." (Matthew 7:14). Only a few find it? How does that play for you and I today? Can that be right? The narrow road that Jesus refers to is seeking Him with all your heart. "You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart" (Jeremiah 29:13). Seek who? Jesus! That is the narrow path, the only road to salvation from this world and our evil thoughts, attitudes, and behaviors, what the Bible calls sin. We seek to be free from our own evil and the evil that is around us. We seek peace with God and our fellow man. Seeking Him can be done anywhere, not just in seclusion like a monk. Seeking God can be done anywhere, at anytime, but not anyway. Jesus categorically, exclusively claims to be the one and only way to eternal life. Jesus tells us how to seek Him. "Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you" (Matthew 6:33). Now we have the real road to God: not some monastery, not some life of abandoning this world and its pleasures (asceticism), or in the endless repetition of prayers or Scriptures. Not communing with nature. Now we know the way to God because God has shown and told us the way: seeking Jesus and His Kingdom.

It is the only way to God. Not through Buddha, not through Muhammed, not through the "the force" in all living things, not through a myriad of forms of spirituality. No, we cannot choose any road to heaven and eternal life. Only one road gets us to grandma's house deep in the woods, and only one way is the right way. All others get us lost in the forest and we never find our way out. Jesus is the only way to eternal life. In fact, Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, the life, and no one comes to the Father except through me." He also promised, "I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture" (John 10:9). See, if we seek Him with all our heart and come humbly to God through Jesus, we will enter into green pastures, the good life, like to grandma's house, we will enter into heaven. That is all we need, seeking Jesus genuinely. No monks running amuck, no monastery, no seclusion, no crazy religion. Just Jesus! He alone is the road to eternal life. Now that is a road I can take to a good place. Jesus will leave you with no regrets and a fulfilled life both now and in the life to come.

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