Let me start this article today with a disclaimer: I am absolutely convinced of the “exclusivity of the Gospel” of the Lord Jesus Christ.
If this theological phrase is new to you, “exclusivity” means that no one can get to Heaven except through the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ! Please keep this disclaimer in mind as you read the rest of this article today.
Jesus leaves no room for discussion or debate about the exclusivity of his Gospel. In John 14:6, he shatters any religious myth that a man or woman can get to Heaven by any other means than his sacrificial death on the cross and his bodily resurrection on Easter Sunday morning.
I’m immediately describing the exclusivity of the Gospel in this article because of what I’m about to say next. I’ve personally seen some so-called Christians turn exclusivity on its head and use it as a weapon to keep men and women out of their churches.
Jesus is the gate
Jesus is the gate through which all men and women must enter God’s pasture! He is not just a gate through which people can find a relationship with God. Rather, he is the gate according to John 10:9!
Let me make this verse abundantly clear; there are not multiple gates into Heaven. There is only one way into Heaven… and Jesus exclusively is that gate!
If it sounds to you like I’m being hostile with my language… I am! That’s because it is a sin to claim that a man or woman can enter Heaven through any other means than the salvation that Jesus Christ offers. It is a false gospel that claims you can be good enough or spiritual enough to be accepted in God’s family apart from the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ!
At the same time, I’m being equally hostile against the false gospel that makes it difficult for people to come to Jesus if they don’t share your cultural heritage or your political views!
Creating Jesus in our own image
Sin causes all human beings to create God in our image, rather than the other way around. Sin causes us to envision an image of Jesus that looks like what we want him to be. Like Ricky Bobby, our fallen nature can radically distort our image of Jesus. If you’re not sure what I’m referring to, watch this 3-minute video clip (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VQmz5699DPQ) .
Sin can prompt us to make humans the reason for which everything else was created. Jesus is the image in which all men and women are created… not the other way around! John 1:3 states this fact when it reminds readers that you and I were created for Jesus and to bring him glory.
I personally remind myself of this verse by calling to mind the painting of a velvet Jesus that I saw on the side of the road in Tijuana. The artist brilliantly painted God created in man’s image in this velvet Jesus. This painting immediately comes to mind when I hear people describe Jesus’s character or personality in a way that has no resemblance to what we read in the Bible.
Essentially, the sin of defining Jesus in our own terms is idolatry. It’s the desire to be the center of our own salvation story and imagining a God that serves people, rather than the other way around.
The blasphemy of a rich, white, male, Republican Jesus
I hope my disclaimer and description of idolatry has earned the right for you to read what I’m about to say next. It is idolatry to create Jesus in your own image, and it is blasphemy to fashion a gospel that shuts the gate to others who don’t look like you or vote like you!
I have personally heard Christians say that they don’t want “those people” in their church. Although the term “those people” can have many different meanings based on the dominate culture, it is always used as an attempt to close the gate on people based on race, color, gender, or political persuasion.
It is this sin of favoritism that James 2:9 condemns when a man or woman is excluded from intimate fellowship within your church because of their politics, gender, culture, or social standing.
Sin causes us to create “gates” which exclude people from our churches for many more categories than these. I use these four characteristics because they seem to be the prominent gates for some churches in my local area. Perhaps you live in a part of the world that has different gates. No matter the list, any gate that excludes people from full and total fellowship in the family of God, other than the blood of Jesus, is a sin!
Finally, I want to caution everyone who creates gates to keep “those people” out of your fellowship. Your personal “velvet Jesus” might just backfire in your face one day. Be careful that your personal velvet Jesus doesn’t become so exclusive that even you are not acceptable one day.
Beware, or the day might come when your church’s gates become so exclusive the even you can’t be rich enough, white enough, male enough, or Republican enough to be made right with God by his blood!