There’s a generally held belief, in our culture, that Christianity is some exclusive club. That there are those that are “in” and those that are not. Along with that belief is one that suggests that some Christians think they’re better than other people. The truth is, we are exclusive. As for the people who think they’re better than non-Christians, they’re either wrong or immature and I’ll address that in a minute. As far as our exclusivity, that’s a hard one to deny and I couldn’t even if I wanted to. We are what we are and we’re exclusive.
But, we’re only exclusive to a specific point. If you’re using the word to describe who we let in, we’re not exclusive. Anyone is welcome, everyone is welcome. We are, however, exclusive because of our beliefs. Like it or not, we reject certain beliefs in favor of those set before us in the Bible. Every belief system, not just religious ones, does this. Here’s a list a of a couple of sites that identify our doctrinal beliefs:
Although Christianity is exclusive in what we believe, what actually separates us from everything else is bigger than simply adhering to a belief system. Jesus sets us apart. Jesus, and what we believe about Him, is the defining factor that makes us exclusive. Other religions acknowledge Jesus, either as a teacher or prophet, but it’s only in Christianity that we see Him as God. Even though the thing that sets us apart is our acceptance of who Jesus is, Christianity isn’t just about beliefs, it’s about relationships; with Jesus and with other believers. It’s in those relationships that you see our exclusivity played out. Jesus said, “…all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” He also said, “Love God and love your neighbor as yourself.” Love is the thing that reveals our exclusivity and extends our inclusiveness. Jesus intended our love for God, love for our neighbor and love for each other to be the thing that brought and held us together. I know that other people love, but it’s things like love never giving up, the rest of 1 Corinthians 13 and love your enemy and praying for those that persecute you that make this a different kind of love. That love, it’s unheard of anywhere else and makes us different.
I think one of the best things about Christianity is, if lived out correctly, everyone, both inside and outside of the Christian community, benefits from Jesus’ commands and decree to love. If Christians take the command to love seriously, than love flows out into the communities they’re apart of and everyone benefits. Our exclusivity isn’t meant to keep others out or scare them away. It’s how God has chosen to set us apart, for the purpose of transforming us into vehicles of His love. Our exclusivity is meant to draw others nearer to God.
From the inside of Christianity there may seem like huge divides between the multitude of denominations and groups, in some cases there are. Sadly, sometimes I think the gap is too wide and there are those inside of Christianity that would assume keep it that way. There was an article on ChristianMag.com recently that spoke to that issue. Here’s the LINK to my response to it. But as wide as the gap is, to those outside of Christianity, we’re all part of the same club. We all share the same belief, no matter how conservative or liberal. In the ChristianityToday.com article, The Wrong Kind of Christian, writer/pastor Tish Harrison Warren addresses this point in context to the university they were attending, but I think it applies to many outside of Christianity. She said, “…in the eyes of the university (and much of the press), subscribers to broad Christian orthodoxy occupy the same square foot of cultural space.” That truth should unite us and draw us to celebrate our unity in Christ.
It’s probably important to mention that not all Christians or Christian communities always do this well, I don’t, and unfortunately it sometimes comes out and sometimes it hurts others. After all, we’re still human. But if that community is seeking to follow after Jesus, then at the least they’re trying to love others and each other well. It’s hard in this culture, but they’re trying. The same goes for those that think they’re better. If they’re an immature Christian, my hope is that a mature Christian is leading and mentoring them away from that. If that’s just what they believe, that remains between them and God. I know that Christian lingo and culture can be off-putting at times, but I’m convinced it isn’t meant to be. I think as more Christians begin to invite non-Christians into their homes and to their tables, this love will become more evident. I fully believe, though some will resist it, the genuine love of Christ is the most attractive thing that ever has or will exist.
What is it about Christianity that you think seems exclusive?
If you enjoyed this post, do me a favor and click one of those share buttons. Thanks.