Remember the story of Jonah? God told him to go preach in Nineveh. Jonah refused and ran in the other direction. He got thrown out of a boat and swallowed by a big fish who later spit him out on the beach. What did God say next? "That's it for you, Jonah. You can just stay on the beach and feel guilty from now on." Not even close. Instead, the Bible says... Then the word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time (Jonah 3:1).
God didn't take Jonah out of service. He sent him back to Nineveh, saying, in effect, "Now go back to doing what I called you to do." If you've lost some major battles in life, you may be tempted to think that God is finished with you. It's not true. The problem is not that God gives up on his people. The problem is that his people give up on themselves.
Many believers, after getting knocked down by sin, decide to never get up. "What's the use? Why bother? I'll just stay down here from now on." You won't be let off quite that easy. God calls you to repentance. He calls you to confront your sin and deal with it His way. And after you have gotten back on your feet, God reminds you His Word remains the same. Trust God and obey Him even when you can’t trace His steps, you can always trust His heart.
He brushed his teeth regularly. He went to the doctor for annual checkups. He ate his vegetables. He exercised and got plenty of sleep. He didn’t drink alcohol and generally took good care of himself. He was on track to live to be a hundred, but then what? He died. The man is survived by two dieticians, four health institutions and a dozen medical specialists.
The man made one mistake: He forgot God! He lived as if this world were all there is. He is now with those who say, The harvest has passed, the summer is ended, and we are not saved (Jeremiah 8:20). One of the greatest problems we face in life is failing to choose right priorities. The majority have given their time and energy to things that are temporary and have neglected their souls. Jesus called attention to this problem. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? (Mark 8:36-37).
Think about it, just one mistake—Forgetting God. It is the one mistake a person will regret forever. What is first in your life? Jesus said, Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness (Matthew 6:33). The way to life begins by becoming a penitent believer, confessing your faith in Jesus as God’s Son, and by being baptized into Christ.
How do we negate the idea that "there are many paths to God and spiritual enlightenment?" How do we treat our friends who are convinced everything is okay when we know perfectly well everything is not okay? The Word of God is the only source of enlightenment. The rub comes when our reluctant neighbors don't want help or will admit there is a source for Biblical truth.
What do you do when people accuse you of religious intolerance and gospel arrogance? I suggest you consider these approaches to sowing the seed (Luke 8:11). 1. Live righteously. Overwhelm your neighbors and friends with honesty and integrity. Try letting them see a sermon instead of hearing one. Let justice and mercy roll down! 2. Love your neighbors. Love is the most powerful social force on the planet. Unleash it on your friends. Love them when they are unworthy and don't deserve it. See them as Jesus does and plant God’s seed in them. 3. Provide hope. In a very uncertain world and an unstable culture, live like you believe God's promises are true—they are true! Let them know that even though you don't know what tomorrow holds, you know Who holds tomorrow! 4. Think evangelistically. Helping others come to see God’s redemptive story flows from an attitude of gratitude. Devote proper time and resources to reaching out to the lost. Be a true friend; for really, nothing else matters.