Tuesday, April 09, 2013



Now here is a revolutionary thought about the person of Jesus. Jesus is all-inclusive! Jesus made it a habit of reaching out to people from all kinds of religious and cultural backgrounds. Note just a few illustrations of how the approach of Jesus and his disciples was all-inclusive. This was really GOOD NEWS!  
The woman at the well-John 4:12: The woman at the well was a Samaritan with very different beliefs regarding the center of worship. He left her with cultural beliefs intact, 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. Jesus was not promoting a new religion; he was offering a personal relationship with God. This personal relationship would transform both her religion and the Hebrew religion. When Jesus conversed with the Samaritan woman, He didn't make certain to warn her of her false beliefs and be sure to change the mountain where she worshipped. There was no renunciation of her false doctrines.
The Syrophoenician woman-Mark 7:26: 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. The presence of Jesus will change a person from the inside out to be like Jesus. God's presence will convict their hearts in His time of what needs to be changed in their personal and cultural ways; not us!
The trip to Gennesaret-Mark 6:45-7:23: 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.
The Roman Centurion-Matthew 8:5: 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 renounce the many Roman deities or his great faith would be for naught. Further in the scene in the healing of the Roman Centurion's servant, Jesus says: "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." These are non-Jews or, in our vernacular, non-Christians.
"Other sheep"-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? Could they be those spoken of in Romans 2:14-15 and 1 John 4:7?
The first Gentile followers of Jesus-Acts 15:1-29: The first followers of Jesus were all Jews. When the first gentiles (everyone else) came to Jesus, some religious Jews insisted that all followers of Jesus must become cultural Jews. The apostles clearly decided against this. All people could be Followers of Jesus without changing their culture.
Peter's experience with the non-Jews--Acts 10: 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." Now, that's revolutionary talk and threatening to those who have life all figured out in their theological boxes. Jesus works outside our theological boxes.
Paul's message in Athens-Acts 17: "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-in such a way so that all men might seek and find God.

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" and he used their "heathen" poems to explain what God is like (Acts 17:28), yet many believed in Jesus that day. What's that all about? I don't know many with this kind of approach.
Every tribe and tongue and people and nation-Revelation 5:9: 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 all of these people groups. The word translated as "nations" is actually ethnos in the Greek. This is where we get the word "ethnic" from; in other words, there will be every cultural group with Jesus.

Jesus encountered people from other cultures and openly and freely gave them salvation. He didn't require them to become a Jew (or a Christian), because to Jesus it's all about a personal relationship with Him.

I believe and see it more clearly than ever Jesus' words, "I am the way, the truth and the life." I'm seeing how Jesus is the way for everyone, everywhere! Christianity isn't the way! The Church isn't the way! Jesus is! Jesus is not narrow and exclusive so that He can fit into anyone's box. Jesus is all-inclusive and will work with anyone! Jesus is the GOOD NEWS!