Jesus said to the disciples, when present with them, that He was the only way to God (John 14:6). Some interpret this to suggest God only loves and accepts into Heaven those who know Jesus. Specific knowledge of Christ or saying the right words is suspect as being necessary. It may have been the same John who penned later: “whoever loves has been born of God and knows God” (I John 4:7). Some love evil; some love good. Some are headed toward God while others away from God. The Apostle Paul speaks out against those who suggest God shows favoritism as God “accepts those from every nation who…do what is right” (Acts 10:35).
When asked how to have eternal life Jesus said simply to love God and love others as yourself (Lk.10:25-27). Jesus didn’t advise one get on their knees, say a certain prayer, confess their sins, and never sin again. Jesus implied that the hope of life forever begins in the present when one looks toward God, whatever knowledge they may have, and battle against unselfishness. Jesus’ only agenda was to convince people to listen to their heart.
Jesus didn’t reject the millions of people who died without any knowledge of Jesus or Scriptures to teach them about God. Some parents badly misrepresent Jesus, so will God only accept those who had more rational parents. Will the thief who was only sorry when hanging on a Cross with Jesus go to paradise while others, who lived conscientiously, be out of luck? God doesn’t just love those who have heard or speak God’s name.
There often is very little moral difference between those who say they are believers and those who aren’t overly God-focused. I will say that my spending time with God has helped me be a better husband, father, and friend. That was what Jesus was offering. I am not sure why some pursue God more passionately than others. Some may pursue God more when in a crisis because they don’t know where else to turn. If deep down you wish you had more of a connection with your Creator, certain beliefs about God may keep you from pursuing a deeper connection.
Some may rightly resist God because of certain characterizations of God they have heard other teach. Is God a sadistic torturer? HELL NO! Hell is not a translation but a substitution for certain Hebrew and Greek words, created over the centuries to scare people into obedience. Jesus’ focus was to simply let others know God loves us unconditionally and desires a relationship for the good of all. Loving parents always seek the admiration and respect of their children so they might consider their guidance.
There may be other beliefs that hold you back from pursing God more passionately. God doesn’t have any expectations before wanting a relationship with us. Unconditional lovers just don’t. God desperately desires to help us with struggles that exist in our world. Freedom has led to much suffering in this world but there was no other way for authentic relationships. Not even God can force true love. I am convinced God is always tugging on peoples’ hearts. Go with it and see where God takes you.
A Muslim or Christian may not think they worship the same God, but they strive to love others how they wish to be loved. God encourages all to listen to their heart about what is right and wrong for life here on earth. You didn’t even have to believe in Jesus full-hearted if you lived in His presence. The disciples weren’t convinced until Jesus came back from the dead. That might convince you as well. Some Christians don’t believe in the virgin birth. Some Muslims do. Some people speak freely of Jesus. Others don’t. Some Buddhists have more the heart of Jesus than those who call themselves Christians. The Israelites got it wrong when claiming to be the only nation or religion under God.
All religions have some truth, though true contradictions among religious must be weighed. Jesus did claim to be the Son of God and Reconciler with God. Would Jesus have been more compassionate by denying He was the Son of God? Would God have been more open-minded by saying we could worship many Gods, if God knew such gods didn’t exist? Jesus claimed to be sinless. All leaders such as Gandhi, who admits having evil desires in his autobiography, do not make such a claim. Jesus’ birth, life, death, and resurrection fulfilled Old Testament prophecies. Jesus’ miracles were against the laws of nature. There is sufficient, historical evidence that Jesus’ tomb was empty. No other religious leader claims to have resurrected.
There are a thousand ways to pursue what one knows is right in their heart. God surely accepts one according to the direction they are headed. We all have faith, believing either there is or isn’t a Creator. Since I am convinced there is a Creator, I believe we all already have a relationship with God. God loves everyone as parents love their children regardless of whether their child pays them attention or not. God’s only agenda is to convince all that God loves and desires a mutual relationship for the pleasure of both.
There can always be very real reasons that people are turned off spiritually by how God is characterized by others. I care more about getting inquirers to reconsider than offending followers. Followers may accuse my above views as a form of legalism. Legalism is a set up for discouragement and was hated by Jesus. No one can live up to even their own standards. If God simply cares only that we are headed from evil and toward good, it is human nature to worry whether one is good enough. One may wish there was a certain prayer you can say and get to Heaven, but one would still worry about measuring-up. God cares deeply that we understand that S/he loves us unconditionally. Fear or religious adherence to a set of rules doesn’t transform lives in the long-run. Gloomy uncertainty as to one’s favor doesn’t conquer our battle against self-centeredness in both human and spiritual relationships. God’s love and mercy is our necessary nourishment.