Picture a cowboy standing silhouetted against the romantic backdrop of Utah’s Monument Valley at sunset. He is rolling his own cigarette in this familiar ‘western’ vignette. Rugged, intense, self-sufficient – he is a throwback to a by-gone era when smokes were not packaged by machines and the Surgeon General did not get to comment on the wrapper. Factory machines remove customization and impose branded blends, and iconic cowboys are fiercely independent. Our cowboy wouldn’t buy a pre-packaged box of twenty smokes if he could. The rows are too orderly and the size too uniform. By rolling his own cigarette he controls each element of the flavor – paper, tobacco, length and girth.
Picture an American silhouetted against a Panera Bread at noon. He or she, if religious at all, is likely ‘rolling his or her own religion’. Urban, high-strung, corporate cloned – he or she is a product of the philosophical norms and political correctness of our time. Believing himself or herself to be independent, adventuresome and uniquely individualistic, our everyday citizen rejects the uniform sameness of the ‘machine’ of organized religion (because everybody else does). Not drawn to the sameness of denomination-delivered faith, our iconic pluralist prefers to ‘roll’ his or her own faith!
But there is a problem. The customizations that are enjoyed by smokers, gourmet cooks and other aficionados and connoisseurs do not apply to the Christian Faith.
God has just one formula which pleases Him – and which confers the power to transform any person into a daughter or son of the One True God!
That formula is faith in Jesus Christ and in His exclusive capacity to save a human soul. Please read John’s Gospel in your Bible’s New Testament for a further exploration of this amazing truth.
One can customize one’s faith with pieces and parts of world religions, along with newly created ‘faith pieces’of our own manufacture. That is the religious philosophy called pluralism and everyone ‘customizing’ his or her faith is a pluralist – no matter how independent or self empowered he/she feels. Pluralism claims that I can customize my faith, and that every sincere pathway leads to God.
That claim is patently false! Customized faith – no matter how many religious bases it covers and no matter how sincere it is – is condemned by God as inadequate. Inadequate … meaning it doesn’t cut it. God has one plan and it’s easy: Put your faith in Jesus Christ His Son, and in His perfect sacrifice on the cross for the forgiveness of the sins you can never be good enough to pay for. We don’t have to pay for our sins. Jesus did it for us, and what He expects in return is that we abandon every effort to save ourselves with our ‘designer’ faith, admit to Him that we are sinners, repent of rebellion against God’s plan, and totally trust in Him for our salvation.