As continuation of my series on “Lenses”, I want to tell you a story.
When I was in college and dating my wife, she and I used to go to a Sunday night service at our church called “Sanctuary After Dark”. As you might guess, it was our church’s attempt to be relevant and edgy for the sake of college-age believers who were in the middle of figuring out just exactly what this whole thing was about. You know what I’m talking about, if you’ve ever gotten past the age of 17 or so... Trying to figure out life, love, faith, sin, politics, work, money, fun, nature, knowledge, experience, family, friends, sex, and… well… EVERYTHING. Nothing was off limits at this service, which is why it ended up looking a lot more like a Bible study than a “service”.
One night at this class-service-thingy we were talking about Romans 10 where in verse 9 it states that…
..if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.
Now the purpose of this particular discussion was to point out that confession is just as important as belief in the workings of spiritual mechanics. And while the discussion was quite good and very enlightening about how other things in our life remain dormant because we don’t engage the power of our tongues; right in the middle of a moment where everyone was trying to talk at the same time and the volume in the room was getting louder and louder, one of the students in the room yelled out as loud as he could...
“BUT WHAT ABOUT THE GUY ON THE ISLAND!?!?”
Everything stopped, and we were all reminded of one of the most important lenses that I still hold onto today.
Let me explain.
If you come across a perspective that is only true in certain scenarios, then it is NOT “truth”. It may be true in THOSE scenarios… But what is “true” is not always the “truth”.
Jesus never said that what is “true” will set you free. He said, “the TRUTH shall set you free.” For instance, it may be true that someone is a drug addict, but the TRUTH is that they are freed from sin and are completely empowered to overcome that addiction. Which one of these statements (both true) do you think is more likely to set someone free? What is true, or the TRUTH?
A nice little lens that I like to use is the truth test for the “Guy on the Island”. The basic premise is that if something doesn’t apply to a guy who’s stranded on a deserted island, all alone, no bible, no pastor, no concept of religion or civilization or history. Just here. Just now. Just a guy on an island. If it doesn’t apply to him, then it is not an ABSOLUTE truth.
This especially matters when it comes to how most Christians view the position of the “gospel” in the process of salvation.
Just ask your average Christian how God accounts for all of those people throughout history who have never heard the name “Jesus”. They will tell you with one breath that you MUST confess the NAME of JESUS in order to be saved, but with the next breath they will usually have no clue how to account for someone who’s never been given that opportunity.
Oh, how easy it is for us to see the world through our “non-existent” lenses where “everyone” has heard the gospel, and God gets to judge them with a nice accounting for their “yes/no” ballot that they cast for “Jesus”.
Sure… rejection of the gospel, when actually presented with it, would certainly account for a negative result in that person’s life. But that ONLY applies to MAYBE 15% of the world’s population that has EVER lived. So, this so-called “truth” is only available to 15% of the humans that have ever lived? 85% of the people who have come and gone on this planet are automatically accounted for as a “no” ballot? (If this is the “gospel” you’ve heard… it is the not-so-good news of religion as opposed to the TOO-good to be true news of the Gospel.)
If it doesn’t work for “the guy on the island”, then it is a RELATIVE truth, filtered through YOUR own LENSES. This doesn’t mean it’s not useful. This doesn’t mean it is a “lie” (Remember The Spiral of Truth.) It can still be true for YOU without being true for EVERYONE, and if it is, you should probably abide by it. Truth is ALIVE. As a matter of fact, it’s one of His names.
Truth is a person… Not a thing. (John 16:13)
Truth meets you where you are and leads you from there. He does not demand that you stumble around in the dark, hoping to be lucky enough to run into a “Christian” who can share their lens-free perspective with you. He finds you. He guides you. He matures you. Even if you are stuck on an island and never hear the name of Jesus, He will reveal himself to you. He will make Himself plain to those who seek him. When? Where? Why? How? None of these things ultimately matter.
Truth is greater than all of the ways in which we TRY to convey him.
Don’t believe me? … Ask Enoch ... No Jesus. No Moses. No Cross. No bible. Yet he found God… And so have many other “guys” on the island.
Austin is just your average Christian who wants to play his part in changing the world. He is the Executive Director of Epoch, a non-profit organization dedicated to bringing the true ‘Body of Christ’ out of the age of exclusion and into the age of inclusion. He believes that everyone on the planet has a part to play in the family of God, and his passion is to help people find out exactly what that part is in their own life. He currently resides in Traverse City, Michigan, USA with his wife Joanie and his two dogs, Hops and Barley… and yes, he likes beer.
See all previous articles by Austin Fletcher