There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to people by which we must be saved. Acts 4:12 HCSB
He bowed his grey head, his wise face serene. The African rainforest loomed behind him, strung with vines and bursting with green. A monkey shrieked in the distance.
“May our ancestors forgive us and give us blessings,” he said in his tribal language, touching his forehead.
“Amina!” the crowd chorused around him. It means “amen.”
“May they give us good crops and much rain.”
“Please accept our sacrifice, ancestors.”
Then, he tipped the gourd he was holding, spilling a bit of the palm wine out onto the fertile earth. He touched the wet spot and then his forehead again. The other elders, all clad in robes of homespun navy and white, crouched down around the puddle to do the same. Now, they could drink from the gourd. The sacrifice had appeased their dead relatives, whose spirits would more likely help them now.
These precious people in West Africa trust in the good will of the spirits. If they have it, their children will live and go to school, their rice harvest will be plenty, their village will prosper. If they make the spirits angry, though, their babies will die, drought will choke the rice and the village will wither. Who will save them if the ancestors don’t?
Animism is a religion of fear.
Across the planet, Asian families burn incense to Buddha in gilded temples. On the same continent, Indians strive to please a pantheon of gods. In the Middle East, Muslims try very, very hard to be good and keep all of Allah’s rules. Right here in the United States, millions of people think that if they just live uprightly, God will let them into heaven – even if they’ve never really known His son.
We all have one thing in common. We all believe in God. True atheists are rather rare, and I never met one in Africa. But so many of us from some many different cultures try to reach God through doors he’s said will not open. He’s made an exclusive path. It’s not politically correct to say it, but it’s the truth: Salvation is found in no one else but Jesus Christ.
Salvation from what? From fear. From rules so numerous we can never keep them. From working so hard to please a god whose favor is not sure at all.
Salvation from wrath. We deserve a fiery punishment for all we’ve done wrong, and Jesus provided the way out of that – the only way.
Salvation from meaninglessness. Salvation from myself.
I’m saved – by the only savior there is. Precious Jesus.