One point of contention among people is how most religions claim they are exclusively correct. Of course there are many people out there who disagree and hold that there are numerous paths and that all religions are basically the same. And I agree with this—in part. I believe there are many paths to spirituality. (Many people seem to think religion is just about spirituality.)
I think of religion as a set of dogmas to defend and actions to perform or abstain from. But I think the new order Jesus established is specifically un-religious. The Jews had an elaborate religious system. Jesus doesn’t break it—he supersedes it. For Jesus, it’s not about dogmas or rules, it’s about attitudes and character.
I don’t believe Jesus is exclusive because he is narcissistic and wants people to acknowledge him. I believe that there is one certain reality, and Jesus is it. If Jesus and the Bible are true, I think what they are getting at is describing reality the way it is, even though it’s different than we’ve understood it. In other words, Jesus isn’t exclusive because of being egotistical, he exclusive because he is the reality. I believe this is what all the talk of “the kingdom” is about. “The kingdom”—God’s county—is a more substantial reality than the world we tend to see around us. God’s kingdom is the one which will last and is what we think of as “heaven”.
Along these lines, God doesn’t send people to “heaven” or “hell” based on some arbitrary rules he made up. “Heaven” and “hell” are realities, and a certain type of person ends up in “heaven” and another in “hell”. Viewed this way, the Father isn’t an angry God who is eager to damn anyone who pisses him off. Instead, he’s bent over backwards and done everything he can possibly do to lead us onto and along the path which leads to life (and “heaven”).
I can’t guarantee I’m correct on all this or in every detail. But it makes a lot of sense to me that if the Bible is true at all (and I have faith that it is), it’s getting at something along these lines. This is what makes Christianity compelling to me. It’s not just rules and “we’re right and you’re wrong”. It’s about a beautiful reality to which we have been blind. Remember what happened when Jesus (the king) came to earth: the sick were healed, people were fed, those in bondage were set free, the dead were raised. These weren’t merely signs of Jesus’ power; they were signs of life—a demonstration of the nature of goodness of his kingdom.