There is an exclusivity to Christianity that many do not like. We can trace it back to the original people who decided to follow Jesus. Many heard his teachings that were certainly powerful and life changing. But, a few actually applied them to their reality and that's when life became risky. The Christmas and Easter stories commonly make up what many believe about Jesus today. So, you might be wondering, how could the 'good news' about the baby born in Bethlehem or the even better news of Easter be risky? Like the Oreo cookie, the good stuff is found in between.
Jesus promised that someone greater would come after him. He said his followers would do greater things because he would return to the Father. The Holy Spirit would bring power. The Spirit would reveal God's truth about Jesus. This power threatened every alternative for understanding God. Jesus' exclusive claim to be God's son would set many on edge and eventually redirect the entire world. But, not toward peace as many would have it. Jesus redirected his followers into a battle. He encouraged them to cross every socially accepted line into a life that challenged the status quo of religious mediocrity.
Religiosity was not the answer Jesus left with his followers. Religion focused on what people did for God and not what God did for people. Religion tamed people like performers in the proverbial circus tent with trained wild animals performing very believable acts. Christianity would be very different. The lifestyle of a follower would reveal powerful evidence of a life that fully embraced the mission and purpose of Jesus. It would challenge every facet of religion, society, government and eventually the world stage. The hallmark of the Christ follower's life would be death. The Apostle Paul wrote that death would be a daily activity. I die every day! That is as certain, brothers and sisters, as my boasting of you—a boast that I make in Christ Jesus our Lord. I Corinthians 15:31 NIV.
It was a Sabbatical year in the Galilee. 5,000 men listened to the remarkable words of Jesus and 4,000 men gathered on the other side of the lake to receive his vision. Religious leaders anxiously watched and interpreted that an army was being assembled. The evidence of public miracles, exorcisms, and raising men from the dead ignited a holy conspiracy within the religious elite to rid the world of this powerful young leader. The exclusivity of Christianity had little to do with a world of peace. The exclusivity of Jesus would be confirmed by the Spirit of Truth. God's mission and vision would be realized in the lives of those who would follow Jesus Christ. Personal transformation is only one level of change. The risk is revealed when Christ followers apply the teachings to reality and change the world. I can't think of anything more exhilarating or risky. Can you?
Jesus said, 'You are the salt of the earth. But, if salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.' Matthew 5:13 NIV