Jesus and the Holy Spirit, the stumbling block
Jesus and the Holy Spirit, the stumbling block.

(Mat 7:13 NKJV) "Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it.

The issue with the Episcopal Church in USA under Most Rev. Dr. Katharine Jefferts Schori was not about their support of the basic rights of Gays, but because of the departure from the centrality of Christ in all things. The Christian Right has sidetracked the issue by using gays as a scapegoat to come against the Episcopal church because they too don't really believe in the grace of God unto salvation in Christ alone. Otherwise, they would not have used the Jewish law of good works based on a pagan religious context to come against the gay community.

The Christian Right knew that challenging the Episcopal church on the question of the pluralistic and universalist views of God would not succeed, as few would believe that Christ is indeed the only way to God. Surely, it is enough to say "people of faith" as Sojourners often proclaim and not the nature of faith!. The GLBT issue is a red herring for the Christian Right to come after the liberals, for they had to resort to a strict blibical intepretation based on the law outside the original pagan religious context, denying the message of grace for which Christ came to proclaim. The anti-gay movement now over flooding the church, floods us with the law and negates the grace of God in Christ in the workings of the Holy Spirit in the church.

All peoples have access to God whatever background they are from, even Church goers. Otherwise, they would not be able to know Jesus Christ and His saving grace. Jesus Christ died for the whole world that His gift of life may be available to all to accept or reject, yet His very own, the Jewish people reject His gift of eternal life and crucified Him. Yet, His grace abounds for the Jews to return to Him. Some Christians try to take Christ out of the bible, but He remains a stumbling block (1 Cor 1:23). If the Jews can enter the Kingdom through the works of the Law without the the grace of God in Christ, why do we need Jesus.

The power of the Cross transends time. The Old Testament Patriach, Abraham, look forward to the coming of the Messiah (Gal 3:8), and that was accounted to him as righteousness.  The priestly religious sacrifices of the Jews, even though an imagery of Christ death and resurrection, gave them atonement for the year, but not permanent reconciliation with God. Jesus is our everlasting priests (Heb 7:24). The Holy of Holies, the Ark of the Covenant, resides the mercy seat covering and concealing the judgement of the law (Ex 25:21,22). The mercy seat represents Christ who was and is to come (Heb 9:1-15).

Some Christians have confused access to God, as Salvation. When Jesus Christ came to earth, he was accessible both the devils on earth - the evil religious men, the cruel Romans Rulers, and the the rich and the poor (Mat 20:16). They all had access to Jesus, yet few enter the narrow gate to be with Jesus in heaven. They all heard about Jesus, some even believed He is a good man and a good teacher (Mat 19:16), and many wanted to follow Jesus to live a simple life. If Jesus was just a good teacher, He need not have come, for the Law for perfection was already there as Jesus pointed out to the youth (Mat 19:17-24). At the end, very few believed and stayed with Jesus until the very end, nor accepted Him as the risen Lord. It was a Gay man, John, who saw through it all, for he loved Jesus.

The amazing thing about the grace of God, is that God is approachable even though when we are still a sinner. We may be the most holiest of saints, and more holy than the Saints of old, but the wretchet sinner hanging beside Jesus may still enter heaven before us. Jesus Christ came not to condemn us, to say who is going to hell, He came that we might know God and to decide to belong to Him. There was no point in condeming because we have all gone astray before God and without applying the blood of Christ into our lives, our own righteousness before the law is not sufficient to justify us.(Mat 3:21-25).

It is not God who decides who enters heavens with a big book of life that St Peter holds, the choice belong to us just as the choice to eat the forbidden fruit belonged to Adam and Eve, so is the choice to eat the fruit of eternal life in Christ belongs to us to be justified before God (Acts 13:38, 39). No one will force us to become Christians or accept Christ. It is a freewill, not by compulsion under religious laws or by beloging to a denomination. The grace of God is freely given and freely received. The door is opened, the way is prepared, God has prepared the way through Christ. Our role is to enter in to the rest of God's grace.

There is no predestination of who will enter heaven, nor for Christians to be "good" christians to enter heaven. We may even worship in a church and believe in Jesus. But who do you say Jesus is? (Mark 8:29) the Son of Mary whom we will get access to by praying through Mary or the Pope? or the Lamb of God slained for our sin.

Jesus Christ is not an idea created by men, or a metaphor for God's love. To the law based religious zealots, His heart of grace was too much for them. For those, who longed for a game changing Messiah against the Romans, the struggle for the poor masses against the construction of the rich and the powerful, Jesus ain't no champion. Sure He fed thousands and healed the sick, but He never organised any grass root movement against injustice.

Jesus knew that His role was not to build a kingdom on earth (John 18:36), nor even a church in every corner where people can access to God. His kingdom was in the hearts of men and women, unseen yet real where Jesus is Lord and Saviour, the centrality of life itself that passes from this wretchet world to the eternal life to come. Jesus Christ hasn't really left because the Holy Spirit remains to continue to proclaim Christ the risen Lord and Saviour. If we really seek God, we will find Him. The true sheep knows the voice of God (John 10:27,28), whilst for some Christians it is an intellectual idea or a series of laws to be followed or a religious system.

Perhaps not many are really sure that Christ is the only way. If they did, they would not have worshiped the bible, their intellect, the saints, the religious sacraments, nor used the letter of the Jewish religious law against the GLBT community. The lies spinned against the GLBT community by many Christian groups perhaps proclaim so clearly to the whole world that works and self righteousness are the doorway to heaven. We often preach Grace + Law, the new wine of God's grace kept under the law until the grace of God breaks the Old wine skin (Mat 9:17) and grace is released to the GLBT community .

When we take Christ out, we are left with man made religious laws, judgement without grace nor mercy, a prosperity theology, humanistic faith beliefs, a notion of love without righteousness, a deep void and darkness without the Holy Spirit moving mightly with His presence. We left with a dead church, based on a religious structure and possibly with a billion followers but a darkness within, a wide chasm betwen men and God.

If indeed the Cross of Jesus Christ is the only way to eternal life with God in heaven, it is not something to be boast about, for the Cross is a symbol of death, an emptiness of self, a sacrifice of our lives that others may be blessed. It is a place of utter humility, totally naked before God and man (Phil 2:8). It will be a humbling experience, an opposite spirit to the religious self righteousness seen in the churches today that desire to dominate the world, or use religion as somehow a way for prosperity or political gains or to persecute the gay community. Following after Christ is not an outward path of taking up arms, nor a political action, nor a path of a Gandhi like peaceful demonstration. It is an inward reflection of ones wretched soul and total dependence of God's gift of grace and mercy in Christ Jesus.

It is hard to see God, for Jesus and the Holy Spirit whom He has left for our communion is a stumbling block to our intellect, our religous systems and laws, our self righteousness which all have become "ways" to God. Yet, the Jews can't even recognize God standing right in front of them for they were so full of themselves just like so many of us are so full of our heterosexuality and patriachal view of Christianity.   Will we follow Christ and loose ourselves in this journey that God's love, grace and mercy will be displayed through us!

 

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