A friend of mine recently began a sentence with the phrase, “They say that…” I can’t remember what she said they said or even who she said they were, but I do remember that I didn’t agree with whatever she said they said.
Human beings all have their gurus of They, a nebulous society of thinkers and writers who aim to sway the opinion of the masses. Oprah, Dr. Phil, entertainers, political pundits. They drive their bandwagons through social media, picking up as many passengers as they can. Jumping on a bandwagon is seen as progress. Never mind that the bandwagon is built, driven, and steered by fellow human beings who base their route on their own personal truth.
They influence virtually every area of human existence. Politics, parenting, education, health, marriage, morality, religion, are all guided by competing factions of They. They cause social media to light up with posts, tweets, and endless rebuttals. And now you can perpetuate the opinion of your favorite They in real time, complete with comment boxes and flying emojis!
In Jesus’ day, They were the Pharisees, taking the law with which they were entrusted and imposing oppressive practices on their followers. In the early church They was the “circumcision group,” forcing Gentiles to follow Jewish customs in order to receive salvation (Galatians 2:11-14). Centuries later, They was the Roman Catholic Church, coercing its followers to purchase indulgences in order to receive salvation, and hunting down and burning alive Lollards and Reformers for spreading the “heresy” of the gospel.
Throughout history, human beings have looked to human beings to figure out how best to be a human being. The human race has convinced itself that it is self-authenticating, and that progress is made by perpetuating schools of human thought.
CS Lewis said, in Mere Christianity,
"We all want progress. But progress means getting nearer to the place where you want to be. And if you have taken a wrong turn, then to go forward does not get you any nearer. If you are on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; and in that case the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive man."
All of humanity is on an endless search for the right road. However, most rely on maps sketched by humans, altered and updated by more humans, and authenticated by yet even more humans. These roads often look promising, and there is no shortage of maps, but ultimately they lead to the same destination: death.
Jesus Christ, fully God, fully human, proclaimed that he is the only right road. “But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it” (Matthew 7:14). “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).
God spoke into existence all of creation. He gave his crowning piece of creation the choice to follow his road. He watched them veer from it, then entered into his creation to personally lead them back to the road. He only stayed in space and time for a little while, but it was enough to direct some to take that about-turn that would put them back on the only road that leads to life.
How does a person who wants to progress know with certainty that Jesus Christ is, indeed, the right road? They study. They read. They research and see how authentic, how undeniably true the word of God is. And they ask God to confirm the absolute truth of it.
This road, Jesus Christ, is authenticated by eye witnesses-lots of them-who wrote down their experiences. Many died for what they knew to be true. They could have lied to preserve their life, but because they had seen with their own eyes, heard with their own ears, and touched with their own hands, they knew that the only preservation of life was on this one, narrow road. Nothing could keep them from it.
It is Easter, the most important day in the life of a follower of Christ. It is the day that the ancient road was mapped and paved for those who would turn back to it. Jesus Christ forged this road himself, by defeating death and rising to life so that his creation could follow. On this Easter, consider taking the about-turn from They to Him, the authentic and only road that leads to life.