Jesus gave clear direction on how to have eternal life in John 14:6 when He said, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me."
You may think this idea seems narrow-minded or radical because we live in a pluralistic society. That means, generally, as a culture, we value all faiths equally and in doing so, reject any claims to knowing the absolute truth and assign arrogance to Jesus and anyone who agrees with this claim.
However, the hope of eternal life rests in the promise of one easy step—a relationship with Jesus.
Jesus' command in Matthew 5:43-44 is not only daunting but hard: “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…"
Think of a time, though, that someone hurt you—it could have been a friend or family member, a spouse or parent, or a co-worker or neighbor. How did you respond? Generally, as humans, our instinct is to inflict hurt back. I'm sure you've heard the saying "hurt people hurt people." That is, when you yourself are hurt, you tend to hurt others.
Jesus' call to love our enemies not only helps others around us to not get our second-hand hurt but also frees our minds and souls.
In Matthew 6:24, Jesus says, "No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money."
It's clear that wherever we spend most of our money, that's where our interests, thoughts, and hearts are. Jesus' shocking statement illustrates the brokenness of the human soul and helps us understand that to love God truly, we must lead with generosity of our time, skills, and money.
One of the most shocking of all Jesus' statements is found in Matthew 5:29-30 where He says, "If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell."
A mountain climber turned motivational speaker named Aaron Ralston was climbing in eastern Utah when he was trapped by a thousand-pound boulder that crushed his hand. After several days, he put a makeshift tourniquet on his arm before manually breaking it and cutting through the skin and muscle until it was fully amputated. He then rappelled to the bottom of the canyon and hiked to safety. Wow! Could you cut off your own arm?
The bottom line is that Jesus' call to gouge our eye or cut off our arm is about not only letting go of what's holding us back but taking drastic measures to ensure that we never stumble again. Maybe it's an addiction, greed, or pride. Cut it off at the source.
In Luke 14:26 Jesus says, "If anyone comes to Me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be My disciple."
The bottom line of this statement is that following Jesus has a high cost. It may cost friends and family, old activities and hobbies, even money. However, not following Jesus has an even higher cost—your soul. The reason it's hard to process this cost-benefit analysis is that you can't tangibly see the reward or loss until it's too late. Luckily, if you are still alive and willing, an extraordinary life in Jesus is available to everyone if you are only willing to take one step toward Him.
No one is too far away from God.