Jesus Finds Us
When I was struggling to find my way back into the Christian faith, one of the major obstacles in my way was what I believed to be the exclusive nature of Christianity.
I'd grown up with the very clear cut message that people who "asked Jesus into their heart" went to heaven when they died, and everyone else spent eternity doing laps in a lake of unquenchable fire.
The problem was that most of the Christians I knew then weren't all that Jesus-like. In fact, I'd met more people who weren't Christians who were more kind, gracious, generous and open-hearted than almost all of the so-called Jesus-followers I knew.
Since then, I've talked to lots of people who had the same issue, and for many of them it was too difficult to overcome, and they walked away from Christianity as a result. Or others simply found it was a bridge too far for them, and they never gave Jesus a chance.
The other day I was reading from C.S. Lewis' Mere Christianity, and discovered the following quote:
There is another thing that used to puzzle me. Is it not frightfully unfair that this new life should be confined to people who have heard of Christ and been able to believe in Him? But the truth is God has not told us what His arrangements about the other people are. We do know that no man can be saved except through Christ; we do not know that only those who know Him can be saved through Him.It's strange, but I never remembered reading that line before. And even further, when I was growing up, I never recall hearing it from any of my teachers or youth leaders who were always extolling the virtues of Lewis. I wish I had. It would have made a huge difference in my life.
You see, Lewis wasn't abandoning his belief that redemption and transformation comes to humankind through the Christ--not by a long shot. However, what he was saying was that the way Christ comes to humankind is more expansive than we know.
In other words, lots of people will recognize the eternal, universal Christ---the Christ that the Apostle Paul said "is all, and is in all." Additionally, through this eternal, universal Christ, Paul wrote that God is drawing all Creation to Godself in an incredible and mind-blowing way.
Perhaps you have struggled with Christianity's exclusive claims. Maybe there are truly good people in your life who you love very much, who are not "Christians," but who live extraordinarily humble, loving, caring, generous lives. They act more like Jesus than most of the people you sit with in church.
But because of Christians, they have turned away from Christianity. Or maybe they've never really understood the beautiful truth of what it means to be a Jesus-follower because it's been obscured by the faithlessness of institutions, and misguided individuals.
Or perhaps they believe that there is more than one way to God, and they are at peace living the best way that they know how.
The Good News is that it's not up to you to figure that out for them. The way God reaches out to people to reveal Godself is bigger and more creative than you could ever imagine. Your only task is to live your best life, be your best self and share the story of your own journey.
And to trust that God has all the rest of it under control. Because God does... have it all under control.
May this be true for you today and every day. And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.