Wednesday, August 01, 2007



TODAY we are making our way through the 3rd segment of Christianity Isn't the Way; Jesus Is.

Jesus made it a habit of reaching out to people from all kinds of religious and cultural backgrounds. NOTE the following illustrations of how the approach of Jesus and his disciples was all-inclusive: John 4:12-Woman at the well was a Samaritan with very different beliefs regarding the center of worship. He left her with cultural beliefs in tact, except that He trumped the center of worship by saying that someday the center of worship will not be in a given location, but in your heart.

Acts 10:28-Peter's experience with the non-Jews. After Peter was supernaturally led to the house of Cornelius by a radical vision from God, he told them: "I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right."

Mark 7:26-The Syrophoenician woman. She was a gentile from a godless culture. Her faith was evident in her persistent conversation with Jesus about her daughter. Jesus honored her faith, however He didn't pull her into a new religious system or study class, nor did He have her renounce her cultural upbringing. Again, there was no renunciation of her false doctrines. Why not?

Luke 9:54-Rebuke of James & John. They suggested that Jesus call down fire from heaven to destroy the Samaritans who were not of the Jewish faith. Jesus rebuked them soundly.

Mark 6:45-7:23-Trip to Gennesaret. Do you notice how many times the Gospel writers refer to going to the other side of the Sea of Galilee? Whenever they were on the Jewish side, they crossed over to the other side. Why? Jesus performed the same works among the gentile world. He never urged them to change their religious culture, but let them remain right where they grew up. However, they were drawn to Him.

Matthew 15:30; Mark 7:24-8:9-Trips to Tyre, Sidon and Decapolis. All of these were non-Jewish areas where Jesus ministered.

Mark 7:31-38; Matthew 15:29-38-Feeding of the 4000. It's almost as if Jesus made a point doing the same miracles among the gentiles as He did with the Jews. This was a feeding within the world of the gentiles.

Matthew 8:5-The Roman Centurion. No doubt the Roman Centurion grew up with the Roman gods, yet Jesus does not speak to this at all. His concern was his faith. When Jesus declared the Roman official's faith as outstanding, even greater than He had seen among the house of Israel, Jesus didn't tell this man to make sure to repent and go renounce the many Roman deities or his faith would be for naught. Why not?

Matthew 8:10-11-Continuation of the Centurion story. Further in the scene in the healing of the Roman Centurion's servant, Jesus says: "I tell you the truth, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith. I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven."

Matthew 24:14-Jesus' message regarding the nations of the world. Here Jesus says: "And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come."

Matthew 28:18-20-The great commission of Jesus. Jesus repeatedly gives the same command to His disciples before His departure: MAKE DISCIPLES OF ALL NATIONS.

John 10:16-Jesus mentions "other sheep" that are His. Who are these other sheep? Could it be that they are from the various cultures of the world?

Acts 17:26-27-Message of Paul in Athens. "From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us." God made the nations-all nations-were made by God in such a way so that all men might seek and find God.

Acts 17-When Paul spoke before the gentile audience in Athens, he didn't quote Scripture, didn't use Jesus' name at first, stroked them for their many idols of worship and proceeded to explain to them who this UNKNOWN GOD is that they commemorated. He didn't call for the renunciation of these "gods", yet many believed in Jesus that day. What's that all about? I don't know many with this kind of approach.

Acts 8:26-40-When the Ethiopian eunuch was approached by Philip, sent by God to do so for this Divine appointment, why doesn't Philip bring up the renunciation of his Ethiopian culture? They had already built many temples to some gods back then, so why not a call for renunciation of these gods and especially before baptizing this eunuch, which must have served to make him feel he was now OK with God and a follower of Jesus?

I Corinthians. 9:19-22-Cultural identification. "Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God's law but am under Christ's law), so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some." NOTE the strategy here was not to export a given culture to another, but to identify with the culture in such a way to introduce Jesus to that culture.

Revelation 5:9-Every tribe and tongue and people and nation. Jesus came to reach all of these, not by exporting any given tribe, tongue, people or nation, but from within each of these faith in Jesus naturally emerges. Since the Creator-God is the source of all people, He has already marked and prepared all of these people groups to respond to Jesus.

You see, Jesus didn't come to destroy any culture or religious system, but to fulfill them. Jesus gives the fullest meaning to every culture. He relates to all who have ears to hear and eyes to see and receives them into His Kingdom. Jesus is above all cultures and religious backgrounds. Jesus trumps everything.