I’ve seen a lot of conversions (or arguments might be a better word) about the inclusivity of Christianity. Some say that Jesus was all inclusive. Others say that it is a narrow road and that the Kingdom is actually very exclusive. I want to offers some thoughts on this.
First I think that our current culture inclusivity it a sort of virtue. It seems that many want everyone to be included in everything. There is a lot good about this idea. Far too often people have been left out, or even kept out, of opportunities and experiences that they should not have been. That’s a fair critique of parts of our society. So everyone wants everyone to be included. I think that’s a good desire.
The flip side of this is that not everyone is the same. People don’t all have the same skills, talents and even desires. And, no matter how we might try to rig society we will never have equal outcomes for all. It’s literally impossible and extremely unreasonable. And frankly a dangerous plan.
But the real question as a Christian is what does Jesus teach and what does He say about the Kingdom in this regard? Here are my thoughts.
I’ve had Romans 12:2 on my mind and heart a lot the last few weeks. In the first eleven chapters Paul is basically laying out theological truth after truth for the Roman Christians. He begins chapter with a transition of sorts. He is about to share how to live this out and what it might look like. But he starts with this in 12:1-2:
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
It’s the second part that has had my attention lately. The idea of not being conformed to this world. Not being conformed to this age. In other words not being transformed away from Jesus but towards him. Not following the fads, directions, lifestyles, or flow of the culture. Really, we shouldn’t be following anyone but Jesus. And we should be leading. We can test what is happening around us and lead with what is good. We should be leading others towards Jesus, at least whoever might follow.
I’m a big lawn guy. I love a good looking yard and I work probably too hard to have one. There are a lot of keys to a good lawn and I’ll come back to this analogy at another time. But today I want to talk about preparing the soil for seeding.
If you want to have a good lawn you have to prepare the soil. If you just throw seed on top of the bare spots nothing will happen. You can water it and everything else, but it won’t matter much. What you need to do is till up the soil. Get at least three inches deep. You need to get rid of anything else growing there as well as any sort of rocks or debris. Then you rake it smooth and if you’re really into it, which I am, then you get a roller and roll it smooth. Then and only then do you drop some seed, spread evenly of course. Then you gently rake it in to the loose top soil. Then I typically throw some straw on top of it to protect it from erosion and getting washed out. Finally you water it . . . . for a while. You have to keep it moist until it grows. This is to say nothing of the maintenance of the yard to keep out weeds and encourage deep rooting. It’s a continual process.
The same is true of our hearts when it comes to the soil we become for the word of God.
Today is the final part of a three part series on Mark 2:1-12. This is the story where some people bring a paralyzed man to Jesus and because they can’t get him to Jesus they dig a hole in the roof and lower him down. The first week we looked at what Jesus did and why He may have done it. Last week we began to see what we might be able to learn about ministry and evangelization from this story. We talked about how these friends loved their friend, worked as a team, and avoided two traps – they realized they couldn’t fix him, and they didn’t stop because there were obstacles. Today we continue this line of thought.
Their Faith Mattered
These people who brought the paralyzed man had faith in Jesus. They knew that only He could offer eternal forgiveness and that only He could heal the man. Not only that, but they had so much faith that they were really to work really hard to do it. They didn’t let obstacles get in the way. They didn’t quit because it was hard. They were sure that if they could get their friend in front of Jesus that good things would happen.
In the account it says that it is when Jesus saw their faith He said to the man, “You sins are forgiven”.
This is a really tough thought. It doesn’t say that Jesus saw the paralyzed man’s faith. He sees the faith of those who had brought him.
Last week we began to take a look at Mark 2:1-12. This is the story where Jesus is teaching at a house and some people come bringing a paralyzed man to Him. They can’t get him to Jesus because of the crowd so they go to the roof and drop the man down in front of Jesus. Jesus forgives the man of his sins and then heals him. Last time we looked at Jesus and what He was doing in this story. Today I want to look at how this might be applicable to us in evangelization.
This is the final of a five part study on the Parable of the Good Samaritan. We started out by looking at the context to the parable and noting that we are not the hero (Samaritan) of the story. We then looked at why it is that we pass by those in need. Next we looked at some of the early Church Father’s take on the parable. Last time we looked at how this parable might impact how we are to “Be Jesus” to others and what it might look like to minister to people as if we are ministering To Jesus.
As if all of that wasn’t enough to face, today I want to talk about what we in the Western Church are probably the worst at. That is letting others “Be Jesus” to us.
As you may know, Christians around the world are being persecuted at a high level right now. I saw an interesting article about what one political group in India wants to do. They want to sterilize Christians as well as Muslims. You read that right. Confess your faith, be sterilized.
According to the article:
“Deva Thakur, vice president of the radical Hindu Mahasabha Party, has called for the forced sterilization of Indian Christians and Muslims. The radical leader also called on Hindus to have more children in order to counter the rise in India’s Christian and Muslim populations.”
Needless to say, this is an inhumane and terrible idea. But it sort of raised some thoughts for me about things we’ve talked about here in regards to the church and the family of The Kingdom, vs. the church of the nuclear family idol.
The real question is this, can you breed out Christianity? It’s actually a really, really interesting question. The answer is of course no. But it’s not as simple as even I might like it to be.