I’m addicted to The Amazing Race in a rather pathetic sort of way. There is something special about seeing people’s ugliness come out in the world’s most beautiful places. One thing I’ve noticed is that, no matter how ugly the people act, there is always a sense of joy and satisfaction when they are eliminated. They never state that they just wasted how ever many days because they didn’t win the million dollars. Everyone of them talks about how great the experience was. That was never better illustrated than this past week, when one of the Jewish gents who was eliminated said: “It’s about the journey, not the destination.” This is a good example of a Jewish mindset that we often miss in western culture.
It’s too bad we can’t think that way more often. We get bogged down in goals and results. We get so focused on where we need to be or what we need to do, we often fail to enjoy the process of accomplishing it — or even of failing to accomplish it. When we read the Bible this way, it causes us to miss some things. We read it with our results oriented mindset and sometimes miss the point.
John 14 is a clear example of this. Through our western, results-oriented thinking, we have convinced ourselves that Jesus is only talking about getting on the road to heaven through him, but there is so much more in this. Jesus never actually mentions heaven in this passage. He mentions the “Father’s house” in verse 2. There is only one other time Jesus uses this phrase (John 2:16 — It’s in Luke 2:49 as well, but only in English, not in Greek.), and he is clearly referring to the temple. Being in an upper room when he said this, it is very reasonable to assume that they had a wonderful view of the temple which Jesus might have gestured toward even as he said this. The temple represented to them the presence of God himself. I think that his point in this passage is not that he is the way to heaven as a destination, but that through him they (and we) could experience the presence of God on the journey.
As we dig a little further in verse 2, Jesus describes the many rooms or mansions in the Father’s house. The original word for this meant “dwelling places” and is only used one other time in the New Testament. That other time happens to be a few verses down in John 14:23, where Jesus describes how the Father would come and make his dwelling place alongside us! Again, the point is not that we will go see God, but that he is with us even as we are on the journey.
Perhaps we need to think of John 14:6 in a different way. It has often been used to say that Jesus is the only way to get to heaven, but this kind of cheats the passage of its fullest meaning. It is not only that Jesus will show us the correct path to get to God, but that through Jesus, God is on this journey with us. Followers of Jesus would be better off if we quit using John 14:6 as a proof text to show why we are right, and instead, looked for God in everything we are doing along the way. It is not the destination we have that is right, it is the journey we are on.
When I’m on a road trip, I often get obsessed with pushing forward to get where we are going as soon as possible. So much so, that I often miss some of the beautiful scenery and things to do along the way. Wouldn’t it be too bad if we got to the end of this life, and God revealed to us how much we missed?