Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Lowest Common Denominator

Nothing says fun like math. Think back for a moment to the fun world of fractions. I still try my best to avoid fractions to this day. But, when it comes to adding or subtracting fractions I remember that you had to first find the lowest common denominator before you could complete the process. This often meant reducing one or more numbers, so that everything could look the same, and be measured the same.

It seems this has become the practice in our world and not just with fractions. Everywhere I look I find standards are lowered so more people can clear the bar. In fact the standards are often lowered to the point that anyone can clear the bar. It appears as the education system is in this mode, along with sports. I have seen where they have stopped giving out trophies to the winning teams because they did not want the losing team to feel bad. While all of this is tragic, the real tragedy is when this happens in our relationship to God. It was not all that long ago listed among the essentials of the Church was the exclusivity of Christ. The essentials of the church are those things which are recognized no matter what theological cloth you happen to be cut from. The exclusivity of Christ is the understanding that Jesus Christ is the only way to God. It seems as the time has come when we no longer can have this in the area of consensus in the church. I realize this has always been in the air for some, however we have reached the point when we are engaged in the lowest common denominator practice with Jesus.

Let me be perfectly clear, this is not a mandate to disrespect other faith traditions, or the people who adhere to them. It is not a reason to go our and tell people they are destine for hell if they do not believe in Jesus. Further, I am not offering an excuse to act in hate and ignorance toward people who are different than ourselves. What I am saying is I have a deep concern that we have lowered the standard of Christ to the point where it seems anything goes as long as a person is spiritual. The greatest evidence of this, is the fact that the idea of all religions leading to the same God has found significant support in the church.

So you might ask, if a Hindu does not believe in Jesus, are they destine for hell? The simple answer, I have no idea. It is not my job to determine who gets in and who does not. I am not even sure that is the real question. What I am sure of is this. Whether, Hindu or Muslim, Buddhist or Shinto, Christian or Pagan, there will come a day when we will have to deal with Jesus. I think about Matthew 7 when Jesus talks about those coming to him claiming Lord, Lord, and Jesus says I never knew you. Religious people of all fabrics will come before God, and may recognize Jesus but having no relationship will find themselves missing the fullness of God. Outside of Jesus there is no salvation. Not simply a knowledge of who Jesus is, but a relationship with Jesus.

An important note. While there is no salvation outside of Jesus, we must remember the reach of Jesus to be beyond our comprehension and knowledge. That is to say, we are not in charge of anything in the kingdom, we are not in management. The role of a follower of Christ is obedience, faithfully following the lead of our Christ. Christ is the only way to God, yet we are not the only way to Christ, our understanding is not the only way to Christ.

We must stop lowering the bar. When we read the Gospels we find Jesus setting the standards pretty high. In fact so high I am unbelievably grateful for grace and mercy. When the rest of the religious world was lowering the standards, Jesus raised them. It seems once again we need to return to the high standard of Christ, not as a goal, rather as a way of living. It has become increasing politically incorrect to be exclusive with Jesus. Yet, Jesus has often been politically incorrect. There is much more room in the Kingdom of God than I often realize, and I am sure when the great reunion of Revelation 21 and 22 happens, I will be surprised to see some of the folks there, just as they will be surprised to see me. I do not make the determination of who reaches God, yet I know the one who does, he is the gate by which we enter, Jesus.

1 comment:

Heidi said...

very pertinent post...we have become people who must be tolerant and politically correct, no matter what, and we lose so much when we act like that means accepting garbage as truth.