By Alex Florez
I will always remember the way my sixth-grade social studies teacher explained the world’s religions. He used the ancient tools of chalk and chalkboard to draw a simple diagram proposing the following thesis: different paths, same “God.”
The argument he posited has thoroughly permeated our society. It’s the “whatever works for you is good with me” position that the culture at large seems to expect all enlightened, reasonable citizens to adopt. I went on to subscribe to this philosophy until my encounter with Jesus Christ.
The view my teacher proposed assumes that every faith in question is built upon the aspiration of scaling this holy mountain to God. For the most part, this framework holds up because for every religion I’ve ever encountered—regardless of its time in history or geographical location— the essential proposition is the same. If you can do the things listed in column A and not do the things listed in column B, then you will have earned the right to dwell in the presence of whatever supreme being you signed up to follow.
But what if getting to the top of the mountain isn’t the goal in the first place? No ascending the heights of religious excellence, no dispassionate deity looking down upon hapless climbers who never reach the top. There is, in fact, a singular faith system in which the God at the top of the mountain has chosen to render His people worthy of His presence by the work of His hands and the blood of His veins. Of course, I speak of Jesus.
We see what is at risk in the first three chapters of Leviticus.The graphic images throughout the reading remind me that if climbing the mountain to get to God was the true objective, I wouldn’t make it.
But Jesus has taken that responsibility off our backs. The beautiful, one-of-a-kind good news about Jesus is that He has done the reconciling for us. No more animal blood, no more climbing the mountain. Instead, we have the assurance that “You were redeemed from your empty way of life…not with perishable things like silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ” (1Peter 1:18–19). We no longer stand in the shadow of an unscalable mountain, despairing of our inability to ascend to God, for Jesus has descended to our domain to relieve us of our misapprehension that our own merit determines whether or not we dwell with Him. Jesus has paid the cost of our passage to the presence of God.