“If a person is wrong about being right with God, then ultimately it really doesn’t matter what he is right about.”
About ten years ago, a friend of mine and I set out on a road trip to visit another friend who lived about three hours away. The route to get there was fairly simple; it was one highway the entire way. Neither of us owned a GPS at the time, but we didn’t need one. We had something just as good… MAPQUEST!
The directions were clear and straightforward: take Route 50 for 140 miles, then once you hit a city called Westover, MD, the destination will be on your right after ½ mile.
Simple. Straightforward. A piece of cake. What could go wrong?
Well… to make a long story short…SOMETHING WENT WRONG!
Unbeknownst to us at the time, we somehow managed to exit off of Route 50 and onto Route 301 mistakenly. Route 301 goes north and we need to be going south. So instead of being in Westover, Maryland, we found ourselves in Glasgow, Delaware!
(I say “we” but really it was HIM; my friend was the one driving, not me. I was actually asleep in the passenger seat at the time and had I been awake, surely we wouldn’t have gotten lost :) )
We drove for almost an hour on Route 301 – the whole time clueless to the fact that we were on the wrong road. But the real problem wasn’t that we were on the wrong road; the real problem was that we were on the wrong road THINKING that we were on the right road.
Let me repeat: the real problem wasn’t that we were on the wrong road; the real problem was that we were on the wrong road THINKING that we were on the right road.
Because we thought we were on the right road, we didn’t stop and ask for directions… we didn’t check a map… we weren’t worried or concerned in the least. As far as we were concerned, everything was fine. The sun was shining… the birds were singing… we were cruising with the windows down in my 1999 Mitsubishi Galant.
Everything seemed fine.
But it wasn’t. We were on the wrong road. And every minute we were on that wrong road was taking us one step further away from our destination.
One of the earliest writings in Christianity is a book called the Didache, also known as “The Lord's Teaching through the Twelve Apostles to the Nations.” It was written in the first century by the 12 guys who knew Jesus best and its purpose was to convey to the world His teachings.
Listen to what the first sentence in the book says:
“There are two ways, one of life and one of death; but a great difference between the two ways.” Didache 1:1
Simple and to the point. There are only two roads in life; if you're not on one then you're on the other. They may look similar in the beginning, but they are as different as can be. One road leads to life; the other to death.
SO MAKE SURE YOU’RE ON THE RIGHT ROAD!
“Ok, thanks for the public service announcement Fr. Anthony, but you don’t have to worry about me. I’m ok. I’m definitely on the right road. I mean, I’m a “good” person. I go to church almost every Sunday… I help old ladies across the street when I can… and I read YOUR BLOG faithfully every day! So surely I’m on the right road, aren’t I?”
Look… I’m not saying that you’re not on the right road, but I’m saying that you need to check. My friend and I spent an hour driving down the wrong road thinking that we were on the right road. And during that entire time, we didn’t have a clue we were lost. We thought everything was fine. But in reality, we were lost. We were so lost that we didn’t even know we were lost. And every passing second that went by just made us more and more lost…
…UNTIL WE REALIZED IT! Once we realized it, everything was fine. We turned around and retraced our steps and got back onto Route 50. Getting back on the right road isn’t the problem; the problem is REALIZING that I’m not currently on it.
So which road are you on? Be honest. Are you walking on the path of life? Are you deepening your relationship with God daily? Are you growing in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ? Are you becoming more like Him?
Don’t just say “I’m not doing anything bad.” That isn’t the question. The question is “are you growing closer to God and closer to His image within you?”
Please don’t think that I’m judging you or trying to scare you; I’m not. I’m just asking questions. One of the things that I learned from that road trip is that it never hurts to stop and ask for directions every now and then – especially when you’re headed to a destination that you’ve never been to before.
Why? Because you don’t want any surprises at the end of the road.
“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’” Matthew 7:21-23