Instead of being thanked, one of them points in almost the opposite direction, and says she is sure that it is along there, and walks off, followed by her friend.
Now, I admit I have no sense of direction - I have been known to get lost even when I have downloaded a detailed Google map - one where I have a printout which lists every turning to take, every path, every road name.
The best thing about having no sense of direction is that you come across loads of interesting places by accident. The worst thing is that you can never find them again.
When I was on Hawai'i for the transit of Venus last June and at the Onizuka Center for International Astronomy Visitor Information Station I bought maps of the Moon and Mars. As I put it, I never know how lost I will end up when going for a walk in Southampton, so it's best to be that prepared.
Ever been a passenger in a car where the driver ignores the map because they know a better way to a place they have never been to - a shortcut which sends you in the middle of nowhere and they sensibly avoid talking about how the car's engine work, just in case they mention the throttle and the passengers collectively think "don't tempt us"?
Just believing you know a better way is not enough for the chosen route to be one that gets you there. And if you are a driver taking passengers to the wrong location, other people are affected.
Getting the right route is so important. And surely it should also be important on how to get to Heaven.
For example, yesterday I was looking for a specific pub-restaurant that served proper food, and I had quickly looked at a map, and thought I had remembered the way. But got lost and asked for directions. And was sent on a wild goose chase.
The first person I asked had me being sent up in the direction of North Baddesley from Lordshill. "Less than a mile. You can't miss it". Half an hour later I had the sneaking suspicion that I had been sent the wrong way.
There are various reasons:
- Someone might genuinely not know the way, but will hazard a guess. They might not know how to get to Heaven, but are sure that there's a way somewhere over there. Go to church, live a good life, and you'll end up over in that direction.
- Or they might be mischevious. They know that there is one way to Heaven, but want to see you sent down the wrong paths, wasting time in your life that you could have been spending constructively.
Going back to near where I has asked for directions, I found someone and asked him for directions. He did tell me, but added that it was too far and suggested somewhere nearer. And this can happen - Heaven is too far, isn't it? Why not make it easier on yourself, find something nearer, which you might enjoy? You will find that sort of person around.
Then there'll be those for whom it's "Nah, never heard of it". Either because they haven't been told, or because they don't want to remember it.
But what did Jesus think? We have His viewpoint in John 14:1-6:
Now, I am sure some will respond that everyone makes their own way, that there are a variety of routes, that different religions and philosophies are just different paths leading to where we meet God.
“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in Me. In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to Myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going.” Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me."
Now, that would sound quite arrogant - someone claiming that they are the only way to God. But Jesus is God the Son so knows what He's talking about. The context is the promise of Him preparing a place for us in Heaven, in eternity.
There is no place in Jesus-focussed Christianity (and can there be any other? Remove Christ from Chriatianity and you're left with Ianity. And Ian can't save you) for any idea that Jesus is just one of many options. After all, why was the early Church persecuted if the Gospel is simply be-nice-to-people-and-find-a-place-for-Jesus-somewhere-in-your-belief-system-but-hey-even-if-you-don't-you'll-go-to-Heaven-whatever-you-believe?