Full Inclusion Requires Exclusion #UMCGC

I am convinced that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life as John 14 says. My more progressive friends hesitate around this scripture while my more conservative friends embrace this scripture. The interesting thing is that both sides hesitate/embrace for the same reason - the exclusive claims that are attached to it. Progressives are not sure if Jesus is the only way, while conservatives are convinced he is. One side is apprehensive to exclusivity while the other side has it as an article of faith.

I would like to submit that the question needs to be not if Jesus is the way, but what exactly is the way of Jesus?

In his book, A New Christianity, Brian McLaren addresses this question: 

“If you want to know what God is like,” Jesus says, “look at me, my life, my way, my deeds, my character.” And what has that character been? One of exclusion, rejection, constriction, elitism, favoritism, and condemnation? Of course not! Jesus’ way has been compassion, healing, acceptance, forgiveness, inclusion, and love from beginning to end— whether with a visiting-by-night Pharisee, a Samaritan woman, a paralyzed man, a woman caught in adultery, or a man born blind.

It seems to me the Way of Jesus is the way of radical compassion and inclusion. And this radical inclusion leads us to Christ which in turn leads us to God. It is a cycle. Here is what I mean:

But here is the paradox that is often overlooked: the way of radical inclusion is the way of exclusion. The way of radical inclusion means that we exclude from our lives our own prejudices, judgments, condemnations, egos and self righteousness.

So my friends if we think that Christianity is exclusive, you may be correct. However, it is never exclusive of others. Christianity is the way of life that works to include others in a way that requires us to exclude our egos. This in part is what is meant by the need to die to ourselves so that Christ can live in us. When we exclude our own pride and ego and allow Christ to live in us, we find that way of Christ to be the way of radical and sometimes uncomfortable inclusion of the other.

Christ died for the world. Not for some select few or for the chosen ones. Christ died for the entire world. You cannot get more radically inclusive than that.

And yet in order to die for the sake of the whole world, Jesus had to exclude from his own ministry fear, hate, judgement and pride. He says in the garden prior to his arrest, “not my will but thine.”

Jesus is the way the truth and the life. The call for us today is are we willing to embrace the way of Jesus so that we may see the truth of his life?