FOR AUDIO VERSION CLICK HERE.Whenever I share the message of Jesus plus nothing, most frequently I get an initial response-a quote from the mouth of Jesus: "I am the way, the truth and the life." This usually comes from a person who is friendly to me and is appealing to me from what is considered to be a foundational statement from Jesus, Himself. And by the way, I couldn't agree more.
The damage that comes from seeing Jesus as narrow and exclusive fuels the sense of "we are the only ones who are right and going to heaven" and the rest of the world is wrong and going to hell. In addition to this, viewing Jesus as narrow and exclusive in this prideful way and believing that our way of thinking and believing is the only way, truth and life as well, does something that Jesus abhors. Embracing this myth shuts the door of the Kingdom on everyone else who is not one of us and we have become the judge on the matter.
Granted this statement of Jesus seems to be quite narrow and exclusive, but it's only narrow and exclusive if Jesus lives within the limitations of a Christian box. Since I separate Jesus from Christianity, deny that Jesus is the founder of the Christian Church and reject the mission of Jesus as being to convert the world to Christianity, people believe I must be removing Jesus from being the way, the truth and the life.
This couldn't be further from the truth! It's not that Jesus is so narrow and exclusive; Jesus is more preeminent than we have ever dreamed and He is all-inclusive. He'll work with anyone!
In Jesus' first seminar in Matthew 5-7 He made a radical statement with respect His relationship with the Jewish Law and traditions. He said, "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them."
Literally, Jesus didn't come to abolish the Laws and traditions of the Jewish culture; He came to fill it full-to bring fullness to it. It's like the Jewish culture with its Law and traditions was like a glass-a form with some sort of structure to it. Then, Jesus came to fill up that form or glass to its fullest-to fill it full. Jesus came to bring ultimate meaning and fullness to the Jewish religious system. In other words, Jesus is the way, the truth and the life for the Jewish dreams and yearnings.
In the same way, I am coming to believe that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life for all cultural and religious systems and traditions. Jesus is the meaning and fullness everyone is looking for. Jesus fills up the various forms or glasses of every culture.
This may seem a little far-fetched for you to embrace at first, but give it some thought. We are finding the footprints of Jesus in every culture. Many years ago Don Richardson wrote a groundbreaking book Eternity In Their Hearts. His research demonstrated that the fingerprints of the Creator-God was found to be in many cultures. God is already there, because God placed "eternity in their hearts".
In the movie, "Fingerprints of God in Japan", the Creator-God of the Japanese people is clearly revealed. In the past the Japanese people were told that they had to reject their Japanese roots and culture in order to be converted to Western Christianity. However, it is now clear that the Creator-God of the Japanese people was known to be in the form of a tri-unity or Godhead. Their Creator-God had a Japanese name, not the Jewish name of Jehovah. When the Japanese watch this film, they weep with great joy. They don't have to reject their culture; God created them and is already present there.
This same understanding has happened among the Hawaiians, Polynesians, Buddhists, Hindus and Chinese. What's interesting is that in many of these cultures there are similar stories in their history-the flood, sacrifices for sins and many have a garden scene. In several of these cultures their ancient scriptures speak of a sacrifice for their sins that must be made by God, Himself. Where did these come from? These are the fingerprints of God in the many cultures of the world.
Jesus is the ultimate fullness of the many cultures of the world. Hey, that's not narrow and exclusive; that's universal and all-inclusive. Jesus is the way, the truth and the life for anyone who has ears to hear and eyes to see. Our mission is not to plant mission stations in these cultures and teach them our favorite Western Christian hymns. Our tendency has been to introduce Jesus to a culture, stay there among them and orchestrate our Western Christian way of doing things. This methodology serves to bring the Jesus movement to a screeching halt in that culture.
Instead, our mission is to introduce Jesus to the cultures of the world and encourage them to respond with their unique, cultural customs. Most recently this was done in Hawaii and the church of Jesus is really growing there. Wherever this is done, the Jesus movement flourishes. Jesus is all-inclusive and wants to work with everyone.