Jesus, the bible, and a woman named “Hisako”
Remember that bible verse where Jesus says I am the way, the truth, and the light, and no one comes to the Father except through me? I have wrestled with that verse over the past fifteen or so years.
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6, NIV
There was a time when I was nearly a fundamentalist. I believed in the rules of the bible. Right was right, and wrong was wrong. No one was going to be saved unless it was by Jesus.
Well, God has a funny way of teaching me. As soon as I think I have it all figured out, he pulls the rug out from under me, and I falter and often fall. God does this in a loving way, however. I can picture him chuckling and shaking his head, saying, Child, you have so much to learn.
It all started with a movie, “Shall We Dance?” Not the Jennifer Lopez version from 2004, but the original Japanese one, from 1996. This movie is about a businessman who starts taking ballroom dancing lessons, in secret, at a studio owned by a woman named “Hisako.” (I actually don’t know her name, and IMDB was no help, so let’s just all agree to call her Hisako.) The businessman is attracted to a young dance teacher (played by Jennifer Lopez in the 2004 version) so Hisako is mainly in the background. But Hisako is a sweet, loving woman.
One day, not long after we watched the movie, Stuart and I were having a discussion. I was saying, with absolute certainty, that no one could be saved except through Jesus. Stuart wasn’t convinced. What about people in other countries? Well, then it’s our mission to teach them about Jesus, I responded. I was so sure of myself. It’s all there in the bible, right?
This discussion continued, it came close to an argument. “What about that woman in the movie, Hisako?” Stuart demanded. “She’s a gentle, loving person. You’re telling me that if she dies, she’ll go to hell, because she never knew Jesus?”
Well, yeah, that’s what the bible says. But suddenly I wasn’t comfortable with that answer anymore. Even though we were arguing over a fictional character, we had both agreed that Hisako was a sweetheart who never harmed anyone. Did I really want to believe in a God who would toss her aside, just because she never had an opportunity to learn about Jesus?
I couldn’t answer Stuart after that. And I learned my first big lesson when talking about faith and God. Which is, the more you think you know, the more you realize you don’t know. In other words, God is bigger than our brainpower. We can never figure it out. As soon as we think we know, as soon as we’re so certain that we’re ready to stand on the rooftops and shout it out, God reveals a tiny bit more, shifting the ground under our feet. It’s just enough to show us that our certain, easy answers don’t fit anymore.
Maybe there’s more to the story. God sees the whole world, the whole universe–all of creation. Jesus is just one man. And yes, Jesus came to save the world, but… now I had doubts.
I still don’t have it all figured out. I’d love to start a dialogue about it, though, with others who are figuring it out. People who believe in God and Jesus, but wonder if maybe the message is broader than what the bible says. What about you? Are you interested in joining the discussion? Leave me a note in the comments section. I’d love to hear from you.