Saturday, February 23, 2008

"I am the gate"

"I am the gate", said Jesus. "That doesn't mean he's blocking people from coming in another way", says a friend of mine as he jumps out of his chair and takes on a defensive basketball stance, moving laterally, low to the gound, arms splayed. He no longer believes Jesus is the only way to eternal life, so he wants me to picture these sincere, desperate people trying to get to God, and Jesus would be this heartless person catching them and forcing them back out into darkness- kind of like a guard on the Berlin wall making sure no one illegally escapes to freedom.

But my friend doesn't realize that he's taking the gate analogy more literally than Jesus intended. By gate Jesus meant "way"- the only way into the sheep pen, the only access to the Father. Now if we think of what is blocking us from getting to the Father we will better understand why Jesus is the only gate. What is blocking us is not a physical wall or locked door but ourselves. We cannnot enter because there is something wrong with us and Jesus is the physician with the only cure.

So what is wrong with us? Romans 5 says, "just as sin came into the world through one man(Adam), and death through sin, in this way death came to all men because all sinned". So we all now have this sinful nature that results in death and separation from God, and the only way to God is through Jesus Christ. "So through the obedience of the one man, (Jesus), the many will be made righteous". "It is by grace you have been saved through faith."

So to say that Jesus is the gate doesn't mean Jesus is cruelly blocking people who could get in another way. No, he is compassionately calling out to the sick, for he is the great Physician. Would we not also be compassionate to warn people that they are turning to the wrong place, to a false hope, where there is no cure?

Is it arrogant for those of us who know Christ to tell others they are wrong, as if our culture is somehow better? Not at all. We, who were just as sick as they, have found a cure and want others to know that God invites all to be healed. He makes no exception, includes everyone- people from every culture, language, skin color, and gender."We all have fallen short of the glory of God and are justified freely by his grace, through faith in his blood." If you dropped in on Steve Laug's church in Eastside Vancouver you would see how Christ and no other unites all cultures and peoples. You would see people from up to 50 different nations and languages worshiping the same God.

Did you wonder why Christianity ( I hesitate to use that word; I tend to agree with Donald Miller that it has way too many negative connotations and bad history) , or maybe I should say why the church that Christ instituted has no temple, no holy place like all the other great world religions have? Because God does not want to be identified with a particular place or nation. (I would guess especially not with America even though some would say God has especially blessed that place.) To be identifeid with noone in particular is to be equally available to all. We who put our faith in him are his temple, and wherever 2 or3 are gathered in his name there is his church.

So let us not hesitate to tell others of the good news with gentleness and humility that, "God so loved the world that he gave his only son that whoever believes in him will have eternal life, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he does not believe in the name of God's one and only son."

This all begs just one more question-What has happened to how we read God's word when evangelical, bible believing Christians can in all good conscience ignore its central theme which is man's fallen nature and the need for Christ's atonement? My guess is postmodernist thought is influencing the church more than we think. But I've gone on long enough. Maybe another post...

Lunar eclipse

I took these with the help of my spotting scope. The beautiful reds that you could see with the naked eye when the eclipse was full did not appear through the scope. Too bad.