A Parable of Faiths

These days, it is often said that there are many ways to God. America is an increasingly diverse society when it comes to matters of faith. However, Christians know that there is only one true way to God, but it is sometimes hard to express that in a way that is faithful to the truth, yet does not turn people off. The little story below is an attempt to describe the truth that, while there are many ways people attempt to reach God, the truth is that He came to us…

Many years ago, a ship traveling far out at sea became stranded in the open waters. It quickly became obvious that the ship was going nowhere. This happened in the days before radio and they were well away from any regular shipping lanes, so there was no hope of anyone coming to their rescue. But the passengers could just make out an island in the far distance. As time passed with no other option, the passengers realized their only hope for survival lay in reaching that island.

They set about finding a way to get there.

Some reasoned that, since the island was close enough to be visible, they should be able to swim to it. Sure, it would be hard, but swimming was the simplest thing to do.
Others argued that they should take pieces of the old boat and fashion a small raft to paddle there. Although they could take only a few at a time, and it would take longer, paddling would clearly be the safest.

A few held out that the best approach was to do as little as possible. They reasoned that if you simply floated, the currents themselves would take you to the island.

And others insisted that they were already at the island, and the others simply didn’t realize it. If only they could sink to the ocean floor, they would find it to be the island surface, and could simply walk where they wanted.

They continued arguing, debating the merits of each approach. As time went on, there were more and more ideas, and stronger and stronger opinions. Soon the people were yelling at each other about the best way to be saved:

“Swim!”  “Sink!”  “Float!”  “Paddle!”

And on and on the arguments went.

As they were arguing, a ship glided into their midst. It had come from the island, and had enough room on it for everyone. The owner of the island piloted the ship. As he pulled alongside the stranded passengers, he held out his hand to them and offered a ride back to safety.

A few took his offer, and climbed aboard. But others peered at the ship and decided they didn’t like its looks, or that they didn’t agree with the Captain’s directions. They were so sure of themselves that they refused to board the ship. Many were simply too busy arguing to even notice it at all.

The ship took on those who would board, turned, and headed steadily for shore.

There are, indeed, many ways of trying to reach God, to humanly cross the separation. But there is one Truth that God has come to us, to give us a way home. He Himself dealt with the separation between us. Each of us decides for ourselves whether to try crossing the sea on our own, or to simply take the Captain’s offer.

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