Tuesday, July 31, 2007



Yesterday I began breaking down a long document I wrote on the subject of CHRISTIANITY ISN'T THE WAY; JESUS IS! Please understand there is no intent on my part to bash Christianity or Churches. My intent is to put both Christianity and Churches in their rightful place and that is under the pre-eminence of Jesus. As I mentioned yesterday, Jesus only mentioned the term "church" twice and that was intended as "church" with a little c. I think the problem is that we have made the "church", which literally means a gathering, city council or synagogue, into a big C Church as if it has some measure of prominence or authority. It is clear to me that Jesus trumps everything else! So, bear with me as we make our way through the teachings of Jesus and the New Testament writers.

My concern is that we must stick to the teachings and principles of Jesus without depending upon a set of beliefs or a theological system that man has built around Jesus. I know how those systems are constructed by well-meaning people, but it is simply a haughty thing to believe that you can arrive at the total truth on the Creator-God and be the only one or one of a few that is right. I believe Jesus never was a Christian and doesn't want to be.

The problem I sense with making Christianity the answer or making the ultimate goal for a person to become a Christian is the following:

We are using and promoting terms (Christian and Christianity) that are NOT even used by Jesus. Worse, we have transformed these terms into sacred goals for not only our lives, but the entire world. By doing this we set it up for people to hate Christians and Christianity, even lumping it altogether with the West. Therefore so many do not hear the Good News. So many miss the most attractive person ever-Jesus.

Many people use the term "Christianity" and mean by it a personal relationship with Jesus. However, words must be chosen well in order to communicate most clearly. So, consider these five observations:

FIRST-Making Christianity the primary way to God implies all other cultural religions are wrong and Christianity is right. It's as if Christianity or Christians own Jesus. Jesus is not exclusive, but all-inclusive.

SECOND-Making Christianity the primary way to God implies and requires that Christians must convert the world. Obviously, this requires a vast array of evangelistic campaigns, exporting Christian music and Christian doctrine, which is really a brand of Christianity from the West, with the intent of changing the audience to a more western culture. The turn-off level is great and very offensive to many who don't want to reject their culture in order to come to Jesus. The truth is that only Jesus through His Spirit is able to bring about spiritual transformation. This is not a cultural transformation, but a heart transformation.

THIRD-Making Christianity the primary way to God brings with it a narrow view of God-Jesus and the Kingdom. God and Jesus are limited as being from the West. It's a negation of God's full creation of every culture, nation and tribe and thereby diminishing the cultural richness of the Creator-God.

FOURTH-Making Christianity the primary way to God reduces Jesus and the Kingdom to a religious system, competing for the hearts and minds of men and women everywhere. Christianity is another religious system on par with the religions of the world. Jesus and the Kingdom are not!

Christianity as another religious system acting as if it is the only way to God or the right way to God stirs up negative reactions and attitudes from the non-Christian world, criticism from the media and persecution of the Christian "missionaries" and their activities around the world. This attitude and teaching that Christianity is right and all others are wrong merges quite well with the smug attitude of the West believing we are always right and better than most everyone else.

E. Stanley Jones' approach in the Indian culture was marked by his meeting with Mahatma Ghandi. Ghandi had just returned from his work in South Africa. He asked Ghandi how he might make the Good News more effective in the nation of India. Without skipping a beat, Ghandi offered two suggestions to Jones. First, "If you Christians would practice the teachings and principles of Jesus, that would go a long way in communicating your faith." Second, "If you would study our culture and religion, then you will find we aren't all that bad and reprehensible." Jones found these to be profound enough to make them the cornerstone of his approach to not only the Indian culture, but the cultures of the world. E. Stanley Jones proved to be one of the most effective communicators of Jesus and the Kingdom ever!

FIFTH-Making Christianity the primary way to God rejects the life and teachings of Jesus. Jesus is for the entire world. Jesus never urged anyone to become a Christian or to join a Synagogue or Church. His only concern seems to be the person's heart of faith and the subsequent act of whether or not the person becomes a follower of Jesus.

Tomorrow's study we will examine passage after passage where these five observations are illustrated. Let me close with a small section out of the message Paul delivered to the religious world of Athens. Remember, he stroked them for being highly religious, he didn't quote any Scripture to them, he quoted from a local poet a piece that had been written in the worship of Zeus and he didn't mention Jesus' name. The result? There were some who believed.

Check out what he said about the Creator-God's work in every culture of the world: Acts 16:26-27-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 created all nations that they might from within their culture seek God and reach out and touch him, because God is not far from any one of us. NOTE God can be reached, touched and found by people from other nations. There is no mention of a missionary in shorts and tennis shoes showing up someday. We don't have time to wait for that to happen. The Creator-God, Himself will make Himself known to those who seek Him. I don't know of any more exciting news than this ever!