In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you … I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.~ Jesus (John 14:1-2, 6)
Blessed are the sat upon, Spat upon, Ratted on. ~ Paul Simon
After the unexpected death of Michael Jackson in the summer of 2009, the whole world tuned into the Staple Center in Los Angeles to watch his funeral. Towards the end of the service celebrities began to sing the iconic song Michael Jackson wrote entitled We Are the World.
There comes a time when we heed a certain call
When the world must come together as one
There are people dying
And it’s time to lend a hand to life
The greatest gift of all
As those words were being sung, behind the stage on a huge screen, various iconic images of the world’s religions were being flashed onto the screen. As the song progressed those images began to spin and dissolved into one image.
That is a snapshot of a lot of popular sentiment present in pop culture. But, truth be known, that is also the feelings of many who are armchair church goers. There are more than a few church folks that believe deep down inside that belief in a particular God as the only way to life after life is divisive and dangerous. There is doubt that the exclusivity of Jesus’ claims as THE way is healthy at all.
Wouldn’t it be wiser to say something like all religions are the same? Stephen Prothero is a professor in the Department of Religion at Boston University and the author of numerous books on religion in America who is not a Christian says, “that what all religions hold in common is that something is wrong with the world, but they are radically different in how they diagnose what’s wrong, and in the cure that they prescribe.”
Everyone has definite beliefs. Even if those definite beliefs are no one should have definite beliefs. That’s pretty definite. The question isn’t “Will we or will we not have exclusive beliefs about God. The question is whose exclusive beliefs about life and God will lead you into the most humility in the way that you approach yourself and the most loving and sacrificial service in the way that you approach other people?
Back in the 90’s the Christian Music group Audio Adrenaline had a song that was popular when my boys were small that said:
Come and go with me
To my Father’s house
Come and go with me
To my Father’s house
It’s a big big house
With lots and lots a room
A big big table
With lots and lots of food
A big big yard
Where we can play football
A big big house
Its my Father’s house
Jesus shows us that the Jesus Way is the most inclusive of all the exclusive approaches to God available in the world. How can Jesus make this exclusive claim, “I am THE way to God AND there’s plenty of room?”
Here’s how: The Jesus Way allows not only the strong but the weak access to God; not only the enlightened but the unenlightened.
Most people inside and outside the church believe, at the end of the day, that good people get into heaven and bad people go to hell. But what if I am not that good? Who sets the standard? What if I don’t make that cut?
The good news that our faith holds out to us is that, through Jesus, God accepts the weak, the immoral, the down and out, the losers, the incompetent, the lousy, the lame-brain, and the messes—the hot messes.
I am so bad that Jesus had to die for me to reconcile me to God and at the same time I am so loved by Jesus that He is glad to die for me so that I can be reconciled with God. That is good news that you will not find anywhere else on the earth.
This should cause us to live differently.
Wait, what? Maybe you’re thinking of Christians and the last thing you might imagine is a humble person. They often behave as the most judgmental and arrogant and narrow-minded people on the planet. I get that. But that is a perversion of our faith. It is one of the signs that the Gospel hasn’t gone down deep enough in the soul. Because the truth is that the Jesus Way says that acceptance by God does not depend on how wise, strong, or capable I am. What matters is not my record, but Jesus’ record. Being a Christian is admitting that I need help. That I need someone from outside my reality to rescue me.
Arrogant, narrow-minded, and judgmental Christians are either not true Christ-followers or they have forgotten that no one performs their way to God. True Christians always look at themselves humbly and look at others highly.
What that means for me is that when I am tempted to compare my ethics, politics, morality, and way of life with those people I disagree with or who I think are beneath me—I remember that I am the worst sinner I know. I suffer from a humility drift. It is so easy for me to forget that God has a relationship with me not because I am quite the catch for God, I have a relationship with God because Jesus took me in.
Flannery O’Connor wrote a short story entitled ‘Revelation’, which is found in her collection Everything That Rises Must Converge. Toward the end of the tale the main character, Mrs. Turpin, a religious person in the Pharisaical sense, is caught up in the whirlwind of emotion as she has a dream or vision of countless hordes of undesirables that are streaming into heaven and God’s presence. Turpin has been cut to the quick by the unsettling realization that, quite unlike herself, God cherishes the weak and foolish things of the world.
Then like a monumental statue coming to life, she bent her head slowly and gazed, as if through the very heart of mystery, down into the pig parlor at the hogs. They had settled all in one corner around the old sow who was grunting softly. A red glow suffused them. They appeared to pant with a secret life.
Until the sun slipped finally behind the tree line, Mrs. Turpin remained there with her gaze bent to them as if she were absorbing some abysmal life-giving knowledge. At last she lifted her head. There was only a purple streak in the sky, cutting through a field of crimson and leading, like an extension of the highway, into the descending dusk. She raised her hands from the side of the pen in a gesture hieratic and profound. A visionary light settled in her eyes.
She saw the streak as a vast swinging bridge extending upward from the earth through a field of living fire. Upon it a vast horde of souls were tumbling toward heaven. There were whole companies of white trash, clean for the first time in their lives…and battalions of freaks and lunatics shouting and clapping and leaping like frogs. And bringing up the end of the procession was a tribe of people whom she recognized at once as those who, like herself and Claude, had always had a little of everything and the God-given wit to use it right.
She leaned forward to observe them closer. They were marching behind the others with great dignity, accountable as they had always been for good order and common sense and respectable behavior. They, alone were on key. Yet she could see by their shocked and altered faces even their virtues were being burned away.
An arrogant Christian is a contradiction in terms.
Am I moving towards becoming a person of humility and recognizing that the person in the mirror is more of a mess than he thinks and the people I meet on the street and sit across from at the breakfast table are more loved by God than I can possibly imagine?
For me, this shows up most prominently in my need to be right all the time. I find myself inwardly sneering at people I think I am better than. Sometimes I think I deserve God’s favor, certainly more than Joel Osteen, Sara Palin, or Barak Obama. I’ve got a long way to go.
Living the Jesus Way is a journey into humility.
When a child is first born what can it do for you? Nothing. The essence of the interactions is feeding it and changing its diaper. And yet that little bundle of joy can open up a space inside of you that wasn’t there before.
That child can audition for American Idol and sound like a pig stuck under a gate, but you will think she sings like an angel. It can be an ugly child—as ugly as E.T. on meth— and yet we take thousands of pictures and inflict them on all of our Facebook friends. Why? Because she is your child or grandchild. You love a creature that can do nothing for you but make a mess.
If your employee bursts into your room at 2:30 in the morning crying because they are scared of a monster in their closet—what would you do? Call 911. But when your son or grandson comes into your room crying because they are scared, what do you do? You pull him to your chest, stroke his hair, whisper words of comfort to him and carry him back to his bed and sit with him until he falls back to sleep. Why? Because you love him.
Jesus says that if you belong to him God is not your boss—- he’s your Father. And for some that means He is the Father they never had.
Ernest Hemingway wrote a short story called The Capital of the World. Published in 1936, it is the story of a young waiter named Paco and his aspiration to be a matador.
In the story, it was clear that Paco’s relationship with his father had broken down. Paco ran away from home to pursue his dreams. In an effort to rebuild their relationship, his father searched all of Spain hoping to reconnect with his son.
After a long and unsuccessful journey to find his son, Paco’s father tried one last time. The father placed an ad in a Madrid newspaper. The ad read:
Meet me in the front of the newspaper office tomorrow at noon.
All is forgiven.
I love you
At noon the next day, hundreds of men named Paco arrived at the newspaper office, each looking to rebuild a relationship that had gone bad.
I think there is a Father-hunger and a Father-wound in many souls today. Souls are longing for a Father.
Come and go with me
It’s a big big house
With lots and lots a room
Still wish we could hang out.
I’m mobile, pleese forgive the typos. Skeet
This site, and your writings has allowed me to get to really get to know you more. I look forward to every post that you put up. Your writings remind me of Keith Greens newsletter “Last Days Ministry”. I grew a lot as a new Christian through Keith’s writings and his music.
Please keep it going it helps many of us to see our path better. I love the FirstPsalm it always encourages me too, and man do I need it😊
Always look forward to your sermons! Always I need them! God’s Blessings to you