Is the Church Failing Young People? Pt VI

It’s Not a Club.

members only

Happy Monday, everyone! While that may be an oxymoron for you working stiffs, it’s not for me. Since I’ve retired, every day is like the weekend, which shows just how great a gig retirement truly is. And, on that cheerful note, I’ll dive right into today’s topic: young people wrestle with the exclusive nature of Christianity. To say that we live in a different world than the one our parents and grandparents grew up in is an understatement; the same can be said of their world, too. World War II pulled America out of the isolation it had dwelt in so blissfully for years and the global communications explosion has shattered that isolation beyond any hope of repair. Compound that with the lessons of tolerance and acceptance that we teach our  children from infancy and you can see why young adults struggle with the exclusivity that for years has characterized the Christian faith. They look at this difference and say things like “churches are afraid of the beliefs of other faiths” and that they “forced to choose between my faith and my friends.” They don’t like that.

 I’d say John 14:6 is the most responsible for the exclusivity of Christians, as it has Jesus saying

““I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

This little quoted-out-of-context ditty has caused Christians to go so far as to condemn someone like Mahatma Gandhi to the pits of Hell, all because he wasn’t a Christian. Never mind that Gandhi was a better Christians than most Christians, he never said the Sinner’s Prayer, was never baptized, never went to church, etc, which means he was dirty sinner and got exactly what he deserved. Well, isn’t that special?

The thing is, I’m pretty sure John 14:6 was never meant to justify the exclusion of anyone. Sure, read and interpreted literally, it seems to say that Christianity is the only way to God but maybe it really means something else. Look, I don’t want to get into a long exegetical argument here, but what if this passage isn’t about exclusion, but inclusion.? What if it really means is that, because of His sacrifice on the cross, we no longer need an intermediary (i.e. high priest) between us and God and everybody gets in? I don’t know about anyone else, but that sounds more likely to me.

 Perhaps my favorite comment from this part of the study is “church is like a country club, only for insiders” because it sums up so many attitudes in one short sentence. Too many people seem to think Christianity is an exclusive club that requires you to look down your nose at all those rank outsiders and that salvation is the entry fee. They also seem to think that by saying the right prayer and believing the right things makes following Jesus some sort of magical “Get out of jail free” card. I’m pretty sure that’s not the way it works. Evidently, young folks think so too. Which gives me hope for the future.