Lent 2 – John 14
“We believe in inclusive church – a church which celebrates and affirms every person and does not discriminate.
We will continue to challenge the church where it continues to discriminate against people …
We believe in a Church which welcomes and serves all people in the name of Jesus Christ; which is scripturally faithful; which seeks to proclaim the Gospel afresh for each generation; and which, in the power of the Holy Spirit, allows all people to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Jesus Christ.”
This is the statement of Inclusive Church.
Inclusion is a deceptive word that we think we know what it means but in fact it may mean something else. They key is about who is doing the including or excluding.
The kingdom of God is inclusive but it is not universal.
The first bit, inclusive, is God’s bit. The second bit, not universal, is down to us.
Let me explain using Jesus’ words to the disciples in the upper room in John 14.
Peter, having been told that he will deny Jesus, is told “Do not let your hearts be troubled”. Jesus goes on to explain that he will be going away and that he will prepare a place for them. He is talking of his death, resurrection and ascension. Thomas doesn’t understand. Jesus tells him “I am the way, the truth and the life”
OK – “we follow you” they might have thought. But Jesus wants them to have no doubts.
“No one comes to the Father except through me.”
The Gospel is exclusive – there is only one way – but it is inclusively offered to all (“whoever believes in him” 3:16).
Jesus – one way. One truth. One life.
OK….so to be included, I need to believe in Jesus? Well, yes and no.
“21 ‘Not everyone who says to me, “Lord, Lord,” will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven” (Matt 7:21)
Doing the will of the Father is also a requirement.
Rule 1: by Jesus
Rule 2: doing the will of the Father – the offer is open to all. Jesus will never drive anyone away who comes to him (John 6:37). But we can disqualify ourselves. Exclude ourselves. Further, “Anyone who sees me has seen the Father”; Jesus and the Father are one. Jesus explains this further, “If anyone loves me he will obey my teaching ( or in another place “what I command” v15) He who does not love me will not obey my teaching.” (14:23-24)
Rule 3: in the power of the Spirit – “the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you” (14:26)
So, should church discriminate?
No, the offer of life is made to all.
Can we affirm all people?
Yes and no.
Yes, all are made in the image of God and are loved and valued by God.
No, “all fall short of the glory of God” and fail at some time to follow the commands of God, obey Jesus’ teachings or follow the promptings of the Spirit. When it comes to living out the life of a Christian, there are “thoughts, words and deeds” that can be affirmed and others that can’t.
How can we tell?
By being scripturally faithful, interpreted together, by the counsel of the Holy Spirit, tradition and reason.
The path to life is inclusively exclusive.
Lent preparation lesson 2: Obedience centered on Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit
LENT EDITION: JOHN 13-21 Week 1: BOTH/AND….HOLD THEM IN TENSION..