In preparing today’s topic, I was constantly led to think (and write) about the exclusive nature of Christianity. Sure we are all taught that Jesus said, “Whosoever will” because it is written in the Bible (Revelation 22:17)
More and more, the words, “whosoever will” only applies to those who agree with the status quo.
I’m not referring to the standard of life that is described in the bible. Within each denomination, there are differences in doctrine, worship, and other disputable matters. As Christians are supposed to be united by our faith and the grace of God. When we become Christians, we become part of an entire body of people who are supposed to work together to achieve the good of all.
We aren’t supposed to adopt a hive-mind mentality by bullying other people into behaving and thinking the same way. Yes, we are united by our faith, but we were born individuals. Just as, it is wrong to place our individual needs above the needs of the group, we should not encourage uniformity where there’ s meant to be diversity. We all have unique experiences that form our view of the world, and to sacrifice our God-given identity in order to fit parameters that God did not give us is a trap. “If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; If one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.” (I Corinthians 12:26)
Since we are all a part of the same body, we are obligated to show the same amount of concern for each member. Self righteousness not only causes us to believe that we’ve earned God’s grace by our good behavior, it also causes us to look down on anyone who doesn’t conform to our image of what a Christian should be.
Remember, when Jesus began his ministry, his greatest opposition was not from outsiders. The people who gave Jesus the most grief about his message of unconditional love were the people within the church, who were used to following the letter of the law (with all of its restrictive rules and regulations). When Jesus spoke to outsiders about love, it upset the status quo, shook the complacent, and exposed the holier-than-thou religious leaders for the hypocrites they were.
If we, as the church, are not careful, the same thing will happen to us. It is not up to us to stand at the doors of the church, like bouncers at a nightclub, refusing people because they’re wearing the wrong clothes. Or because they’re gay. Or black. Or white. God’s grace is available to all, and because we are imperfect beings, we’re all bound to mess up every once in a while. (Or often)
It’s funny how once we’ve made it past the velvet rope, into a welcoming (
until you disagree with them) church body, we shift the rules to make it more difficult for others to get in. The truth is if we were as amazing as we claim to be, we wouldn’t need Jesus at all. We could coast successfully through life on the strength of our magnetic personalities, superior intellect, and our outstanding behaviour. Right. 🙄
In his letter to the church at Ephesus, the apostle Paul writes, “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace”. You can’t bond peacefully with someone if you think you’re better than they are. Christianity isn’t an exclusive club. There are all different types of Christians, with different familial backgrounds, different ethnicities, different social classes, and with differing political viewpoints.
It is important to keep in mind that we are not any better any or worse than one another. All of us, even the ones who smoke, curse, have had an abortion, or vote liberal are valuable to God. And because we’re valued by God, it is our duty to value one another–without conditions.
“There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus”. (Galatians 3:28)