Your boss invites you and your wife up to his cabin for the weekend to go fishing. As you start packing your suitcase, your kids come to your room and ask if it is O.K. for them to have a party while you are gone?
You want your kids to like you, so being the cool, understanding parents that you are, you reply, "Sure kids, have a great time. Just don't do anything I wouldn't do (wink, wink, nod, nod)." I mean, who doesn't want to be their children's best friends?
As you head out the drive, your teenage son and daughter have already posted on Facebook: "Party, Music, Open Pool, Allllnight, Allll welcome!" It goes viral. Before your kids know it, 500 of their best friends show up an hour later to party! Kegs are rolled in. Drugs are passed. Dancing begins on the dining room table. Dishes are smashed...
"Hey, hey, hey, stop breaking my parent's things. That China cost them a fortune!" Some ugly dude looks at your daughter and says, "Who are you, and why don't you chill out?" She replies, "Because this is my house!" He looks at her, laughs, and keeps smashing plates.
You come home two days later and your house is completely trashed, strange kids are sleeping in your bed, and your kids are not at home. So much for being a cool parent. In your desire to be inclusive, and kind, and tolerant; respect for you and your personal property has been thrown out the window...literally!
Your desire for inclusivity has caused you to be the one who is excluded.
This is exactly what happens to the gospel when we don't have the courage to proclaim it's clear exclusivity. For instance, this week in the book of John 14:6 we are going to discuss one of the most well known passages to Christians. And I believe it is because of how exclusive it is:
Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."
From a plain reading, it sure sounds like Jesus is saying that access to God is only through him. So logically, doesn't that means all other avenues are excluded? In turn, we could surmise from this that a Hindu living in India who has never heard of Jesus has no way of really coming to the Father. If Jesus is the only way, and no one comes to God except through him, than we can and must assume Krishna and Vishnu and Shiva CANNOT and WILL NOT bring you to the Father. (And that is not even discussing the absurdity of having over 330 million gods to choose from).
Well, nice people, especially nice Christian people don't like this kind of talk. They want to be kind and tolerant to other faiths, (Cool Parent Paradox), so they offer up a new and improved interpretation for John 14:6. Listen to Brian Mclaren's take on John 14:6, "What of 'No one comes to the Father except through me?' Clearly, taken in context, these words are not intended as an insult to followers of Mohammed, the Buddha, Lao Tsu, Enlightenment rationalism, or anybody or anything else. Rather, the 'no one' here refers to Jesus’ own disciples, who seem to want to trust some information – a plan, a diagram, a map, instructions, technique - so they can get to God or the kingdom of God without or apart from Jesus, since he has just told them he is leaving them for a while at least."
Without getting into his extremely sketchy understanding of the context of John 14, I want you to notice that his objective is singular in focus: He does not want to offend followers of Mohammed, the Buddha, and Lao Tsu. So in order to keep them from getting upset, he would rather do major violence to Jesus' clear statement.
In other words, in order to be liked as a Christian, in order to welcome all in without hurting anyone's feelings, he must kick Jesus out! I say this because the whole point of the book of John is to present Jesus as the one and only true God. All through John he makes statements about the peril that all of mankind is in if they do not believe. The most damning is John 3:18-19, "Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil."
Does that includes followers of Mohammed, the Buddha, and Lso Tsu. You bet your bottom dollar it does! So out of love for the Muslim, Buddhist and Confusionist, Jesus came to earth to die in order to rescue them too! That is why they need to hear about him and believe in him.
Sadly, more and more Christians have ignored the Non-Christian's peril simply because of their desire to be nice and cool. One specific case happened a few years ago in California where the Rev. Karen McQueen of St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Pomona said that in "both Hinduism and Christianity 'devotees believe that the Divine Presence illuminates the whole world'...and both faiths revere great figures who embody divine light." So as a result the people of her church and the Hindus who participated in a combined ceremony, agreed to "renounce all proselytizing" of either faith. In other words, "we will not try to get you to believe in Jesus because you are probably doing just fine....and, of course, I don't want to upset you."
Isn't Christianity supposed to be a religion of conversion in the first place? Isn't the goal to try to persuade "all people to be reconciled to God through Christ? (2 Corinthians 5:20)" Don't you see, by desiring to be kind we have destroyed the purpose for which Christ came. In our inclusivity (wanting to say all have access to God in their own way) we have allowed the world to exclude Christ (the one who says he is the only access)!
Last week, a funny thing happened in Northern California. The 9th U. S. Circuit Court made a unanimous February ruling upholding the actions of a principal in a Northern California high school who ordered students wearing American flag shirts inside out during a 2010 Cinco de Mayo celebration. In other words, Americans who let Mexican immigrants into the country could not have their kids wear shirts that showed they were Americans because it was the Mexican holiday of Cinco de Mayo. Out of a desire to be inclusive, let all immigrants show their national loyalty on their holiday celebrations, Americans were excluded for declaring their national loyalty...even though it was in an American high school.
I hate to say it, but this world is in competition: Evil is trying to snuff out the good, every single day (2 Corinthians 4:4). And to act as if we are not in war, or we need not be worried about any adversaries is naive and foolish. It is like saying ISIS terrorists are really not that bad of guys behind the masks.
Jesus came to earth to win the world to himself; the cross wasn't just something he wanted to do on his free time. He painfully died for the sins of mankind!
Please don't sell him out simply because you want to be liked!