Posts Tagged ‘John 14:6’

If you pay attention to the news and know anything about Jesus of Nazareth (who many people believe is the Son of God), then you might be familiar with what Rainn Wilson is talking about.

Furthermore, if you agree with the actor (best known for the TV sitcom The Office) then it’s a no-brainer that you’ll want nothing to do with Jesus or the people who claim to follow Him.

But I can’t stress this enough: it’s absolutely VITAL that you separate Jesus from His followers (and that includes ME) because I strongly believe how you think about Him will effect your life now and for all eternity.

When He was physically on Earth, Jesus was never (NEVER!) about gun rights, prosperity theology (think of TV preachers like Joel Osteen, Paula White and the fabulously named Creflo Dollar), anti-science, limited government (that neglects the destitute) and fierce nationalism. And today, when Jesus followers like me believe He lives in the hearts and minds of anyone who claims Him as Lord and Savior, He still isn’t.

Conversely, Jesus isn’t just about what people at the opposite end of the political spectrum claim. He wasn’t just a woman’s rights advocate or a fanatical anti-poverty crusader. Nor was He a card-carrying socialist, as some might believe. And it’s a misrepresentation to claim Jesus was primarily a humble servant of the abject poor.

So what was (and is) He about? Thousands of books have tackled that question because it’s important, especially in a violent, pandemic-ridden world staggering like a drunk leaving the bar.

While we’ll never have a definitive answer that everyone can agree on, here are a few snapshots that convinced me to follow Jesus:

  • Telling religious leaders, who brought Him an adulteress woman for judgment, that anyone who had never sinned can cast the first stone at her. They all left and Jesus forgave the woman.
  • Healing a man’s diseased hand on the very day when religious authorities forbade people from doing any kind of work.
  • Revealing to His followers that “I am the way, the truth, and the life. The only way to the Father is through me.
  • Informing people that it wasn’t good enough to tolerate their opponents. They must actually love them. (!!)
  • Announcing “I and my father are one” and allowing his followers to worship Him.
  • Letting a woman clean his feet with expensive perfume, then telling a critical follower, who thought the perfume could have been sold and the money given to poor people, that “You will always have the poor with you. But you will not always have me.”
  • Allowing religious authorities to arrest Him on trumped-up charges, then doing nothing to stop His execution because “The greatest love people can show is to die for their friends.

I’m presenting a very, very incomplete picture of Jesus (that’s why so many books have been written about His life, death and resurrection). But I hope it’s enough for you to explore further. Some will tell you it’s a waste of time, but I believe your entire future is at stake. Don’t let anyone stop you.

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When I saw this meme, helpfully posted in an atheism community, it instantly grabbed my attention because most of us, me included, don’t really know who believes in Heaven.

So I did some research. According to Wikipedia:

Buddhists seem to believe Heaven is a temporary illusionary reality (though, to be honest, it’s hard to nail down exactly what Buddhism teaches in this respect).

Hindus believe Heaven is a place of eternal, sublime beauty for liberated souls, but it’s not Hinduism’s final pursuit. Like Buddhism (from which it springs), I find it’s difficult to discern an exact Hindu concept of Heaven.

Sikhs believe “Heaven and Hell are not places for living hereafter, they are part of spiritual topography of man and do not exist otherwise.”

Jews — at least the orthodox strain — believe Heaven is part of a three-level universe; it’s above, Earth is in the middle and the underworld is the realm of the dead.

Muslims believe Heaven is an afterlife in Eden for those who do good deeds.

So, in this way, the graphic meme has a good point: others besides Christians believe they could be going to Heaven when this life ends.

So why do most people who believe Jesus of Nazareth is the Son of God claim that Heaven — the dwelling place of God, His angels, His Son and all truly committed followers of Jesus — is only open to those who follow Jesus?

The answer is simple: The Words of Jesus. He tells anyone willing to listen that “I am the way, the truth, and the life. The only way to the Father is through me”.

Is that exclusionary? In one sense, absolutely. In another sense, absolutely not. Anyone can accept God’s gift of Jesus — His miracles and teaching, His dying on a cross to make up for the wrong things we’ve done and the right things we’ve failed to do, and His resurrection from the dead.

All these things are written about in ancient biographies of Jesus and there’s plenty of evidence to back up the key elements of His life. (Visit http://www.carm.org or http://www.ReasonableFaith.org and read the evidence for yourself.)

The important thing is — and this is the best news you’re ever going to read — it doesn’t matter if you’ve ignored God and His Son up ’til now. It doesn’t matter if you’ve followed another faith or guru. It doesn’t matter if you’ve committed moral crimes for which you can’t forgive yourself. All of it becomes secondary when you believe in Jesus and dedicate your life to following Him.

If you’ve done that, then all of Heaven is yours. And that Heaven, which includes an intimate relationship with God through His Son, starts right now, in THIS life.

Interested? Yes or no, post your thoughts below and let’s have a conversation.

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10638108-abercrombie-and-fitch“Candidly, we go after the cool kids. We go after the attractive all-American kid with a great attitude and a lot of friends. A lot of people don’t belong [in our clothes], and they can’t belong. Are we exclusionary? Absolutely.”

These were the words of Mike Jeffries, the chief executive officer of trendy clothing retailer Abercrombie & Fitch, spoken in a 2013 interview with Salon, the online news and entertainment website.

That this was the policy of his company is not surprising; lots of retailers aim their products at a specific demographic (rarely mine, I can tell you) and ignore all others.

But none have been so bold – or brave – to publicly state that they don’t want overweight, older or ‘unattractive’ people anywhere near their products.

I was fascinated by the resulting controversy; many people, media outlets and websites reacted almost violently to Jefferies. Some online posters even searched out and shared the most unflattering photos of the CEO that they could find.

But isn’t it clear that Abercrombie & Fitch’s philosophy is exactly how our world works? Haven’t you seen or heard advertisements for condominiums that emphasize how exclusive they are? And aren’t certain restaurants trendy because they are exclusive? What about golf and country clubs – don’t they attract a certain kind of person who likes their exclusivity?

More important, aren’t there times in our lives when most of us – me included – have yearned for a meal in that exclusive eatery or lusted after a unit in that trendy housing project? We actually want to exclude others.

In some ways, I appreciate Mike Jeffries thrusting this unpleasant human characteristic into the spotlight. It gives me a chance to examine my own thinking patterns. It also highlights one big reason why I hold fast to my faith in Jesus of Nazareth, who many people believe is God’s Son.

You may have been told, or come to believe, that following Jesus is exclusionary – that only people in the club get to spend eternity in Heaven with God and Jesus.

Serious Jesus followers do believe that because in one of the original source documents of His life, Jesus says “I am the way, the truth, and the life. The only way to the Father is through me.”

But what the critics of Jesus don’t tell you is anyone – and I mean ANYONE – can join Jesus in Heaven. God presents His son as a GIFT to every man, woman and child on planet Earth. Gifts are made to be accepted and that’s all you and me have to do to get in on this so-called “exclusive” offer.

When you tell God you want to trust in His son (who many people believe died to make up for all the wrong things we’ve done and the right things we’ve failed to do), the slate is wiped clean. No matter how ugly your past might be.

How inclusive is this gift? It’s open to Mike Jefferies, it’s open to me, it’s open to YOU, it’s even open to the most reprehensible kind of person (read one such story here: http://wp.me/p2wzRb-6K).

So what do you think of this gift? Post your thoughts below and let’s have a conversation.

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