Faith musings from the seat of a forklift.
It is no understatement that roads are an important part of our culture. Not only are roads used daily by motorists and truck drivers, but there are even songs dealing with roads. We have songs about the “highway to Hell”, and “highway to the danger zone”. We have songs that say “life is a highway”. We even have “country roads” taking us home. There is even the old adage “If you don’t know where you are going, any road can get you there”. Yes, roads are a pretty important part of our culture.
In the Bible, we have a few roads that are also mentioned. There is the “Road to Emmaus”. There is the “Road to Damascus”. There is even the street called “straight”, which remains to this day. Seems that roads were important during the time when the events of the Bible happened. However, how we look at some of those events can be a little askew at times. This is particularly true when it comes to the “Road to Emmaus” or the “Road to Damascus”. Unfortunately, depending upon the church, these two events are often interpreted as an example of needing to “have a personal experience” with Christ Jesus, also sometimes called a “radical conversion experience”. However, these events are never defined as be prescriptive, only descriptive. If I were to be completely honest with myself, I don’t know a single person within the church that truly has had a “personal experience” with Christ Jesus. Such a concept is thoroughly shrouded in emotionalism, that is the idea of finding God through your feelings. It doesn’t work.
There is a common thread between the Road to Emmaus and the Road to Damascus accounts. In both cases, Christ Jesus revealed himself to specific individuals for a specific purpose. In the former, it was pull them back to the fold, assuring them that he truly was who he claimed. In the latter, it was to bring in a persecutor of the church, and to send him out as an evangelist for the church. Two different events, two different purposes, both events happening on a road.
Oddly, at no point in either account is there anything said about “making a decision”. Indeed, in the Road to Damascus account, Saul isn’t given a choice, he is explicitly told to stop what he is doing, and then given instructions as to what he is going to do. However, be not deceived, this is not a radical conversion experience. Saul was not an atheist, just a very misguided Jewish believer (he believed that the messiah would come), who was redirected by Christ Jesus. Think about it. The two disciples on the Road to Emmaus were believers, but they also had to be redirected. There was nothing of a radical conversion experience.
These two post resurrection accounts of encountering Christ Jesus on the road to someplace are a part of Christian history. However, they are by no means prescriptive of how we come to believe. There is really only one road that leads to Christ Jesus, and it takes us straight to Golgatha, where he gave up his life as a ransom for our sinfulness. However, that road is not one we can physically walk, it is one that we accept by faith, and that faith is a gift from God. It is not something that we can do for ourselves.
Yes, roads are important. However, some roads are more important than others. Oddly, I tend to think that if you don’t know where you are going, there isn’t a road that will get you anywhere. However, if you are seeking to enter the Kingdom of God, that path is straight and narrow, and it is only through Christ Jesus that we can hope to enter in, and this by his own merit, not something we’ve done. Amen.