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Watch 2022 online sermons » Craig Smith » Craig Smith - The Problem of God and Exclusivity

Craig Smith - The Problem of God and Exclusivity

TOPICS: The Problem of God and..., Exclusivity

Well, welcome to Mission Hills at all of our locations. So glad you’re with us. Obviously, this has been a very difficult week. If you’re joining us online, there’s a good chance that you’ve heard about it. Everybody who was at our South Denver campus is well aware that we had yet another school shooting this week. And I don’t know how many of you feel the way I do, but like my only response, I can actually see the STEM school from my office. And as I watched the lights converge around there on Tuesday, my main thought was just not again. Anybody else feel like that? Like how can this be happening again? And the reality is I think that there’s a spirit of despair. There is a spirit of hopelessness. There’s a spirit of life taking in the South Denver area. And, you know, I’m not necessarily one who immediately goes to spiritual forces to explain things, but I have had enough experience in my life to know that that’s a reality of the world that we dwell in. And I do think there’s a spiritual opposition here in the South Denver area and then the only weapon that we have against that is prayer.

And so what I’d like to do is just take a moment and invite you to pray. And I’d love for you to take this moment, not of silence, you don’t have to pray out loud, but into the silence, put your prayers to God. And pray for healing for those who’ve been physically harmed, pray for healing in spirit for those who are living in anxiety and fear right now. And I know that’s probably many of those of you who are listening even at this moment and pray for a breaking of the power of this spirit of despair and hopelessness because we have truth. We have hope. We have light. And pray that God would use us to break this darkness. And so, let’s just take a few moments of silence and then I’ll close this in a moment.

God, we come to you as your children and we are angry, and we are frustrated. We are sad and we are hurting, and we are afraid and there’s a whole, just a spectrum of emotions. But we come to you because we know that you are the only one who has hope. You’re the only one that has the words of life. Lord, would you give us words of life? Would you make us agents of life and of light and would you use us, given courage through the power of your Holy Spirit, to push back the darkness in this place? And on behalf of those who are watching from around the world, we asked that you’d give each of us the strength to be your hands and feet and to make a difference. Lord, we don’t want to be in this place again. We don’t wanna be having this conversation again. We don’t wanna be dealing with this kind of thing again. And so, though we asked that you’d move, move us and use us to make a difference. We do love those who are harmed. We ask for physical healing. For those who are harmed in spirit, Lord, we ask for a coming of your presence that would bring peace, that would bring hope. Lord, for those who don’t know you and are in this dark place without the light of Christ, we ask that you would break in and you bring them to a saving relationship with you to give them the hope that the world cannot offer. Lord, I believe that we’re facing an epidemic of hopelessness. And yet we as your people come because we know that we have hope. And so, Lord, make us agents have that hope in Jesus’ name. Amen.

On a much more positive side, of course, it is Mother’s Day. And so, I wanna say thank you to all of the mothers out there are, you know, how many of us have mothers? I love it when I get 100% participation. That’s awesome. I’ll tell you what, let’s just do this. You know, we’ve got people watching all over the world right now and we’re recording this broadcast and so maybe your mom isn’t here, but let’s give a shout out to your mom wherever she is. I’m gonna do a three, two, one and you’re just going to yell, “I love you,” and I don’t know what you call your mom. I used to call my mom Mother because she’s kind of a proper southern belle type and she’s like mother. And now I’m kind of like Mom and I don’t think she likes it, but I feel better about it now. And so, I’m gonna honor her with Mother this morning, but maybe it’s Mama for you. Maybe it’s Mamacita. I don’t know what it is. Right. Okay, we’ll do three, two, one. You just yell out whatever you call your mom. Okay. Yell it out really loud. So, three, two, one, I love you.

Okay, here’s what you’re gonna do now. That’s on Facebook. So, you’re gonna go to Facebook, you’re gonna find that moment in the broadcast and you’re gonna send a link to your mom and go, “I did that for you, Mom.” And in she’ll listen, and she’ll be like, “I could totally hear you,” because that’s what moms do, right? I thought, you know, we’re in the middle of our Problem of God series and so I thought since it is Mother’s Day, we would just deal with the Problem of God and mothers today and yeah, how stupid would I have to be, right? No, we’re not gonna do that. We are gonna deal with a problem today though that it is an issue for people, and I think there’s two different ways this particular issue is problematic. For some people it’s the issue that keeps them from coming to faith. But honestly, I think for a lot of Christians this particular issue, for a lot of followers of Jesus, this issue is a problem and it’s what keeps them from sharing the love of Jesus, it’s what keeps them from sharing the truth that we have in Christ. And what I’m talking about here is the problem of God and exclusivity, the problem of God and exclusivity, and here’s what I mean by exclusivity.

Exclusivity just means excluding people from a group because they don’t share some of the characteristics of the rest of the group, some of the characteristics that the rest of the group has in common, right? And our immediate reaction in the modern world today when we go, oh, people are being excluded from a group is to go, “How terrible that is. That’s just awful. How could you possibly do that?” Well, it happens to all of us all the time. It happens to me and I’m constantly dealing with the hurt of this and trying to get over it. But I keep coming back to it. In Mission Hills, we had this amazing group. We’ve been invested in this group for a long, long time. It’s called MOPS. MOPS is Mothers of Preschoolers. And I love what MOPs is doing, but they will not let me be part of it. And I get it. I’m not a mom. I’m not a mother. Okay. So, I feel like the men’s ministry should get busy and they should launch POPs, which be Papas of Preschoolers.

But honestly, you know what, I wouldn’t get to belong to that one either because I don’t have preschoolers. So maybe at some point in the future we’ll have GAPS, like a Grandparents of Preschoolers, and I could belong. But you understand what I’m saying? Like I’m excluded from a couple of these groups because I don’t share certain key characteristics, and nobody gets too upset about that. Sometimes people are excluded from groups because they don’t share beliefs that unify the group. That’s the characteristic that brings a group together. They have a certain set of beliefs and other people don’t have those beliefs, so they don’t belong to that group. So, for instance, if you happen to believe that crazy thing, the earth is round, you know, you cannot belong to the Flat Earth Society, which is a real thing with a growing membership list. But if you don’t believe that the world is flat, you don’t get to belong to that group, you don’t share that belief and so you’re kind of excluded from that, right?

Or I mean, let’s just get really practical, nitty-gritty, deep spiritual stuff here. If you belong to the group that believes that DC’s “Justice League” is better than Marvel’s “Avengers Endgames,” you don’t belong to the group that is rational, reasonable, and sane. And so, it’s just the way that it works. Okay. But you understand what I’m saying? We exclude people from groups because they don’t share all the characters of the group and nobody gets too upset about that when we’re dealing with the kinds of things that I’ve already described. But here I think is where the real problem comes in then for a lot of people, both Christians and non-Christians, it’s this. Christians say that only those who trust in Jesus will go to heaven, right? Christians say that only those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God, that he died for our sins and rose from the dead and put their trust in him, they’re the only ones that go to heaven. And that’s where people begin to go, okay, well that’s exclusive in a way that I really, really struggle with.

Well, one of the first things I wanna do is make sure that that’s actually the truth. That’s actually a reasonable way to think about Christianity because sometimes people reject Christianity, or they reject Jesus or faith in God because of misunderstandings. So, we need to make sure that that’s actually something that Jesus taught. So why don’t you go ahead and grab your Bible and start making your way to the Gospel of John, John 14:6. I think we need to hear directly from Jesus himself. And so, here’s something that Jesus said, John 14:6, “And Jesus answered and said, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.'” Is that an exclusive claim? Kinda, right? Kind of hard to read it any other way. I mean, he says he is not a way. He is the way. He says he’s the way, the truth, and the life. He is the only way rooted in the only truth that gives rise to the only worth life that’s worth living for now and for all of eternity. He says no one, no exceptions, no one comes to the Father except, that’s exclusive language, right? Except through me. So is Jesus making exclusive claims about himself, yeah, he is. There’s really no way around that. That’s baked into Christianity because it’s part of the teaching of Jesus himself.

The early Church repeated it, but they didn’t invent it. They’re just repeating what Jesus says. So, for instance, in Acts 4:12, Peter is speaking, and he says this, he says, “Salvation is found in no one else for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.” That’s exclusive language. But understand the early Church isn’t inventing that, they’re just repeating what Jesus said. So, Peter says that there is no one else. Salvation is found in no one else. There’s no other name, but he’s just going back to what Jesus said. He says, “No one comes to the Father except through me.” So, is Christianity exclusive? Absolutely it is. And let’s just be very, very clear. Jesus claimed to be our exclusive source of eternal life.

Not of the sources, not the source for people in, you know, in Christian communities or who grew up in Christian nations or grew up in Christian homes, not for people who grew up in the western world. No, no. Our, meaning all of humanities. Jesus says he is all of humanity’s exclusive source for eternal life. That’s absolutely an exclusive claim. There’s no way to spin that. There’s no way to twist that. There’s no way to get out from under. That’s absolutely what Jesus claimed. And that’s precisely where a number of people will go, “Well, that’s where I have a problem,” right? And so, I think non-Christians are, they’re offended by that. And honestly, a lot of believers are embarrassed by that. Like, yeah, that, boy, that…I’m not comfortable with that. But here’s something I think we need to all understand, it’s just a fact.

Exclusivity is the inescapable conclusion of every claim to know any kind of truth. Let me say that again because it’s really important. Exclusivity, what we’re talking about here, exclusivity, it’s the inescapable, inescapable concept. There’s no other way it’s going to happen. It’s always gonna turn out this way. It’s the inescapable consequence of every claim, not some of them, every claim to know any kind of truth, not just religious truth, not just certain kinds of truth, but every kind of truth. In other words, what I’m saying is that anytime somebody claims that it’s this way, that this is the truth, that this is the way reality is, what’s happening is we’re drawing a line. And we’re saying, those of us who believe it are on this side and those who don’t are on that side. There’s an exclusion. It happens with every kind of truth. If you were to say, you know, Craig is wearing jeans right now, you’ve drawn a line and everybody who agrees that Craig is wearing jeans belongs on that side of the line with you. Everybody who thinks that he’s wearing a kimono or a kilt, like, what’s wrong with you, right? But you’re on the other side of the line, okay? It’s just the way it works. It’s not spiritual reality. It’s not philosophical. It’s just truth. Truth draws lines. Anybody who says, you know, men are inherently better drivers than women, that’s a line. I don’t know why you draw that line, but you’re drawing a line. You’re separating yourself. Everybody who’s on that side of the line is saying one thing. Everybody that’s the other side of the line, they’re gonna live long and prosper unlike the rest of you on that other side of the line, right? But every time we draw a line is because we’re drawing a claim to truth. It’s just the way that it works, okay?

And so, I think it’s important that we understand that when we realize this fact, well, what happens is we begin to understand that Christianity is no more or any less exclusive than any other religion because every religion makes claims. Every religion says this is the truth. This is what is true. This is what’s real. And so, every religion is constantly drawing lines. It’s no more or less true of Christianity. It’s true of all religions and all claims to truth. And so, Genesis 1, right, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” They didn’t just happen. It wasn’t random chance. That’s not the claim of Christianity. Christianity says God did it. It draws a line. Buddhism says, no, no, no. That’s not the way. They draw a different line, but they draw a line, nonetheless. Buddhism says the universe has always existed and no God was required for its creation. It’s just always been around. Well, that’s a different line, but it’s clearly a line, right? And so, we all draw these lines.

Deuteronomy 6:4, “Hear O Israel, the Lord our God the Lord is one. There is one God. There are no other Gods.” Every other claim to something being a God is either wrong or it’s a counterfeit. It’s an imitation. It’s a lie. It’s a pretender, but there’s only one God. Hinduism says, no, no, no, that’s the wrong place to draw the line. There’s millions of gods, but you understand that they’re drawing a line too. Christianity says one God. Hinduism says, no, millions of God. We’re putting ourselves on opposite sides of lines all the time. It’s no more or less true of Christianity. Jesus himself drew lines constantly.

John, Chapter 11, “I and the Father,” he said, “I and the Father are one. And again, his Jewish opponents picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus said to them, ‘I have shown you many good works, many miracles from the Father. For which one of these are you stoning me?’ ‘We’re not stoning you for any good work,’ they replied, ‘but for blasphemy because you, a mere man, claim to be God.” See, they understood when he said I am the Father are one. He wasn’t saying God and are simpatico, right? He’s not saying God and I are on the same wavelength. We’re thinking kind of in the same… No, no, no. He’s saying that I and the Father, we’re equal in some essential sense. And his opponents, when you’re claiming to be God, that’s a problem. You understand Jesus drew a line, right? Yes. It’s an exclusive line, but every other religious claim is an exclusive line as well. Islam says, no, no, no, no Jesus is just a man. That’s where our line is. He’s not God. He’s not the Son of God. He’s just a man. He’s a prophet, but he’s just a human being. But that’s a line just as strong, just as exclusive.

Every religion makes claims to truth. And for that reason, every religion draws exclusive lines. Christianity’s no more or no less exclusive than any other religion. However, and this is an interesting thing, in the modern world, there has been a movement towards treating religious claims in a different way than we treat every other kind of claim. We’re saying that, you know, religion draws exclusive lines, but every claim to truth draws exclusive lines, right? Every kind. And yet somehow there’s been this temptation in the modern world, this sort of, this trend in the modern world to go, yeah, but religious claims are different. And so, there’s an increasing temptation for people to say, well, religious claims, all religious claims, all religions, all their claims through…they’re all equally valid. And to say they’re equally valid means they’re all equally true even though they’re contradictory, even though they make radically different and mutually exclusive statements. The modern world will say yeah, but all religious claims are equally valid.

Can you imagine if we did that in any other area of life? I mean, imagine, imagine you had been feeling bad for a while and so you go to the hospital and they do a battery of tests and you go into the room with the doctors afterwards to interpret the tests, and there’s a number of people there. And one of the guys says, “Okay, well I’ve looked at everything and you know what? You’re fine. You just need to drink more water. That’s all you really need. Just a little dehydrated.” All right. I like, that. Sounds really good. The other guy goes, “No, no, no. You’ve got a really bad infection in your right arm and we need to amputate.” Whoa. The other guy goes, “No, no, no, no, you got pancreatic cancer and we need to operate, and you need to start chemotherapy immediately, or you’re gonna die.” Okay. And then there’s a fourth guy, he’s the hospital administrator. He speaks up and he says, “I can tell you’re really disturbed by this. I can tell all these different claims coming at you, they’ve really got you kinda, you’re worried, you’re upset, you’re confused. Don’t worry about it. All these diagnoses are equally valid.”

Now, I don’t know how you’re gonna respond. I’ll tell you what I’m gonna do. I’m gonna be like, how about you leave because you’re kind of stupid. I don’t think you understand how ideas work. I don’t think you understand what truth is. How about you leave and I wanna talk to these doctors and what I want from the doctors is tell me why you believe what you believe. Tell me what the evidence has convinced me that you’re right beause I need to know the truth on this. This matter, right? We would never accept this idea that all ideas are equally valid in any other area of life and yet we have a temptation to want to do it in the one area of life that has the longest-term consequences. If what the Muslims are saying is right and Christianity is wrong, I need to know that because it’s not gonna impact me for 20, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80, 100 years. It’s gonna impact me for eternity.

If Jesus is right, I need to know that because it’s gonna impact me for eternity. We wouldn’t accept this idea that all ideas are equally valid anywhere else in life, and yet the modern world says, but when it comes to religion, that’s how we need to approach it. And I get it. Let’s be realistic. And I think especially as followers of Jesus, we need to understand why that happens, why there’s that push towards that. And there’s a couple reasons for it, I think. The first one is just this, religious claims are hard to verify. It’s hard to know who’s right. It takes a lot of work to sift through the evidence and come to a rational, reasonable conclusion about which religious claim is right. Religion is hard to verify. We can’t put God under a microscope. We can’t tune heaven in with a telescope, right? And so, you know, how do we subject the claims of the religions to tests so that we can actually determine what one is true and what one’s valid and what one is right. That’s a hard thing to do but understand this. Just because the claim is hard to verify doesn’t mean that we stop trying. Just because a claim is hard to verify doesn’t mean that we can stop trying to figure out which one is right.

I mean, let’s just do a quick little experiment, shall we? I’m gonna hold this and I’m gonna let it go. What do you think’s going to happen? Make a quick scientific prediction. Okay. You can never test anything just one time. Let’s try it again. Two out of three. Okay. It falls every time because we have a little thing called gravity. Who knows how gravity works? Good job. No one, I hope nobody online is putting their hands up because we have no idea how gravity… We know that it works. We know what it does, but we have no idea why. In fact, I kid you not, there are more than 50, 5-0, distinct theories to explain why gravity works, 50. And do you think in the physics community they’re going, “Well, you know every idea is equally valid. Isn’t it great that we have this diversity?” No. They’re working hard at it. It’s hard.

The reason there’s 50-plus theories is because it’s really difficult to decide which one’s right. It’s really hard to verify. It takes a lot of hard work and a lot of thought. It’s difficult and yet they’re still doing it. They’re still trying to verify which one is right. And here’s the interesting thing to me, and you know, I just, I apologize in advance to all physicists out there. I’m not sure it matters. If it turns out that the bi-scalar-tensor-vector theory of gravity… Got it right. It took me a while to memorize the bi-scalar-vector-tensor…now I got it backwards. I can’t even pronounce the theory properly. If it turns out that one’s right versus the quantum loop theory, you know what’s gonna happen? Stuff’s still going to keep falling, and yet they’re still working hard to come to the conclusion about which one’s right. They’re still working hard to verify it. And when we’re talking about religious claims, we’re talking about eternally significant things where your eternity is gonna look very different if you’re on the right side of the right line or not.

Yeah, it’s hard to verify religious claims. It’s not impossible, but it’s hard work. But just because it’s hard work doesn’t mean that we stop trying. And so, if you’ve given up, if you’ve gone, you know, I just don’t know what I think and there’s all these religions, just listen, it’s too important. It’s too important for you to go, “I just don’t know.” You can’t give up on this one. But that’s one of the reasons I think that we are tempted to say that all religious claims are equally valid. I think the second reason is this, it’s that the world has gotten smaller and we wanna be kind. The world’s gotten smaller and we wanna be kind. Here’s what I mean. Fifty years ago, a hundred years ago, very few people in the United States of America, which is not an entirely Christian nation even 50 years ago, but it still shares a very largely Christian worldview. It’s very much shaped by Christian worldview. And so, we didn’t necessarily have a lot of interaction with people who didn’t have a Christian worldview. I mean, we knew that over in the Middle East, you know, over in different parts of the world, there were people who had different beliefs, but they were kind of abstract people and their beliefs sort of we kind of dealt with on a purely philosophical level. There wasn’t a lot of like heart stuff involved in it, but that’s not true anymore.

See, now, because of travel and because of the internet and even increasing diversity in our own communities, we know people who believe these things. These things that used to just be foreign ideas, now it’s not just like I know there are people who believe in Islam, but now it’s my neighbor Feran. It’s Omar that I work with. These are people that I actually know, they have faces, they have names, I know their kids, I know their life, I know their story, and we want to be kind. And our perception is what could be less kind, what could be more unkind than questioning somebody’s sincerely held religious beliefs, suggesting to somebody that I actually like and I know that their beliefs about eternity, their beliefs about God are wrong. What could be more unkind than questioning somebody sincerely held religious beliefs? And so, we want to be kind and so we’re very reluctant to do that and I get that. But I also wanna say that depends on a very narrow and honestly, I would say insufficient definition of kindness.

This idea that we’re being kind as long as we don’t question people’s beliefs and challenge them, that’s not real kind. I mean imagine somebody came to you and they said, “Hey, it’s been a rough day because I’ve just been diagnosed with a pretty significant illness. It’s called scurvy.” Remember scurvy? Scurvy, it’s a vitamin C deficiency. People used to get it when they were on the boats crossing the Atlantic for long, long periods of time. It’s pretty bad. I mean, your skin cracks and bleeds. You get a high fever, your joints swell, and they ache, your teeth fall out of the sockets, your hair falls out. It’s pretty nasty. So, your friend comes and says, “Yeah, I just been diagnosed with scurvy, but it’s okay. All I need to do with smell an orange once a day.” And you were like, “That’s all you…” “Yeah, I’ve got to smell an orange, just smell orange once a day and I’ll be cured.” “You believe that?” “I do, sincerely and deeply.” Okay.

A few months later they’re in the hospital. I mean, they’re in a life-threatening place and you go to visit him, you, “How you are doing?” They’re like, “Much better. Turns out, I need to eat an orange a day, not smell it. I need to eat it. So really easy solutions, so from now on, I need to eat an orange, like who knew, right? Like, did you know?” And you’re like, “Oh, huh.” Like, “Oh whoa, whoa, you knew, you knew that smelling an orange wasn’t gonna… You knew that I needed to eat an orange. That’s all? You knew?” “Well, yeah, kind of.” “Well, why didn’t you say anything?” “Well, I wanted to be kind.” And he looks around the hospital and he goes, “This is your idea of kindness? You could’ve saved me all this. You really think you’re being kind?” Here’s the thing. The world has gotten smaller and we have this temptation to want to be kind. But listen, when being kind means withholding truth, we’ve stopped actually being kind. You hear me, Church? I understand the impulse to be kind and there’s no reason why we shouldn’t be kind. But kindness also means actually caring about long-term consequences of what people believe.

Listen to the words of Jesus. John 8:32, “And then you will know the truth. You will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” See, truth sets people free. And it’s interesting to me. That quote has been picked up and repeated millions of times over the last few centuries, millions of times by people from every walk of life, millions of times by people from every religious background. There’s something in what Jesus says here that just resonates deep in the soul of every human being who’s ever lived. Yes, the truth will set you free. We just know instinctively that’s right. Truth makes a difference. And it doesn’t matter if it’s easy truth or hard truth. In fact, I would argue that the harder the truths, the more powerful they are to set us loose from the chains that bind us. Some of the most powerful things that have been done in my life had been done because somebody had the courage to say a hard truth into my life, but hard truths have the ability to break chains.

Do you understand what that means? It means that failing to offer truth is failing to offer freedom, it is to leave people bound, it is leave people enslaved, is to leave people chained to the past, to their sins, to their brokenness, to their shame. And all of those things that we’re all aware of and that we’re all intimately thinking through. To fail, to offer truth is to fail to offer freedom. Jesus says this, John 6:37, “All those the Father gives me will come to me. And whoever comes to me, I will never drive away.” It’s so interesting to me. You know, we have this idea sometimes well Christianity is so exclusive, but we’ve already seen it’s no more exclusive than any other religion. Yes, Jesus says he’s the only way and that’s exclusive. It is. But notice here he says all those, everyone, everyone who the Father gives me comes to me and whoever comes to me, whoever. Not the people that grew up in Christian homes, not the people that grew up in Christian nations, not the people that grew up in the western world, not the people who you grew up in certain socioeconomic settings, he says whoever. I don’t care where you come from, I don’t care what your background is. I don’t care what you’ve done or haven’t done or any of it. Whoever, whatever, whatever, whatever, whoever comes I will never, never drive away.

Matthew 11:28, he says, “Come to me. Just come. Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.” All, all of you. Just come here. Here’s what I love. Yes, Christianity is exclusive. Jesus’ claim is exclusive but, do not miss this, his invitation is inclusive. Jesus’ claim is exclusive, but his invitation is all-inclusive. Everyone who comes, everyone who comes will be set free because God so loved the…what’s the word? It’s the world. For God so loved the world that he sent his one and only Son, and whoever believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. Yeah. Jesus’ claim is exclusive. He is the only way to salvation, he says. But his invitation is inclusive. And so if you’re a follower of Jesus, let me ask you a question. Here’s a question I’d love for you to wrestle with. Am I so worried about being seen as kind that I’ve actually stopped caring about truth, because it’s happened in the Christian world. We have truth, we have light, we have the ability to drive back darkness. We have the ability to change things, to extend the influence of God in a way that transforms the world. But more importantly, it transforms the lives of people in our influence for all of eternity. And we have often failed to share that truth because we’re so worried about being kind that we’ve stopped caring about truth. And as we’ve already seen, what that really means is we’ve actually stopped being kind.

So wrestle with this. Am I so worried about being seen as kind that I’ve stopped caring about the truth? Or maybe, let’s be perfectly fair, sometimes people fall on the other side of the spectrum. So here’s a question for you. If you’re a follower of Jesus, I also want you to ask this question. Am I so concerned about the truth that I’m not being kind? Because the reality is that sometimes people reject the claims of Jesus because they don’t like us. Sometimes they reject Jesus because they don’t like his followers because we’re not always kind and loving in the way that God calls us to be. You know, we say in this series over and over again, we’ve said it, right? The answers that we’re giving here are intended to be not weapons, but what? But medicine. We have truth, we’re going through answers here so that we can make a difference in people’s lives, so we can remove obstacles, so we can help them take steps further in their relationship with Jesus because we believe that that is the truth and it will change them for all of eternity.

But sometimes people take these kinds of things and they use them as weapons. You know, in my office I have a library and part of my library is devoted to apologetics books. And apologetics books, if you’re not familiar that term, basically, they’re books that are arguing from historical, scientific, philosophical evidence for the truth of the Christian faith that it is the most rational religion. It’s the one that lines up with reality over and over and over again. So I have books that are filled with those evidences. But it’s an interesting thing to me that when I look at those books, some of my books that are there are really old. I love old books and so I have old apologetics books and I have new apologetics books. And what’s interesting to me is the old apologetics books, when you compare them to the newer ones, you know what’s true about the newer ones? They’re kinder, they’re just nicer. Whereas some of the old ones, they come across kind of harsh and honestly, I don’t see a lot of love in them. And I think the big difference is the world’s gotten smaller and more and more people are going, “Hey, these are real people we’re dealing with. They’re not abstract ideas.” They’re still speaking the truth, but they’re doing it in a more kind way. They’re doing it in a compassionate way. They they’re doing in a way that honestly to me seems to be driven by love for those people.

And sometimes we haven’t picked up on that. And so am I so concerned about the truth that I’m not being kind? In other words, do the people who don’t agree with me know how much I love them? So maybe you find that the Holy Spirit needs to do something in your work there, but for everyone, for every follower of Jesus, here’s maybe the key question. Who do I know that needs to know what I know? I’ve asked this before, but I’m not going to stop asking. It’s so important. We’re all called to be on mission with Jesus. And part of that means asking this question right here. Who do I know that needs to know what I know? Who needs to know the truth about Jesus? And maybe your answer is I don’t know anybody who needs to know what I know. Okay, then you need to know more people.

You need to extend your…because to be on mission with Jesus means to be extending the influence of God. That’s what it means to be a mission, extending God’s influence. And if you don’t know anybody who needs to know what you know, then you need to know some more people who need to know what you know. Go be on mission with Jesus. Go be kind with truth. But maybe you’re not a follower of Jesus. And I know on all of our campuses and for a lot of you watching online, you’re not necessarily followers of Jesus. So let me ask you this question. Where else in life do we refuse to accept a claim to truth, do except to claim something to something we actually believe to be true? Where else in life do we refuse to accept something we believe to be true just because it means that the alternate claims are false?

And a lot of times I found that people are like, I’m struggling to say yes to Jesus because I kind of believe it. I do believe that it’s the best explanation for the empty grave. I do believe that Christianity explains the rise of the Church. I do believe that Jesus, being the Son of God, it explains the facts of history and of science. I actually do, but I can’t say yes to Jesus because if Jesus is the way and the truth and the life, that means all the other religious claims are wrong. Yeah. Like everywhere else in life. And what I’m asking you to consider is the possibility that that obstacle is a silly obstacle. Where else in life do we refuse to trust a claim that we believe is true just because it means the ultimate claims are false? Look, we all have questions and we need to answer those questions. Yeah, that’s what this series is about. But we have other alternative ways to help you get answers, to help you move forward in faith. And so one of the things that we’ve set up, if you haven’t used it yet, really encourage you to do it, you can text the word questions to 888111 and you’ll get back a link and you can ask an anonymous question. We’re gonna get answers to those. So if you have a question that’s keeping you from moving forward, let’s get the question answered. Maybe you attend our Discovering God series. Find out more about that It’s a multi-week conversation with people who have questions. We want to get you answers to your questions, okay?

But if you’re here, if you’re listening to this and you’re going, well, the big problem I have is just that if Jesus is the way and the truth and the life, that means that he’s the only way and yeah. What’s keeping you from moving forward? Listen, if you’re not a follower of Jesus, this is what you need to understand. The question isn’t whether or not Christianity is exclusive. It is, just like every other religion. The question isn’t whether or not Christianity is exclusive. The question is whether or not it’s right. And my guess is some of you are listening to this and there’s something in your heart that says, “I know that it is.” Okay. Then it’s time to trust. It’s time to trust. Would y’all pray with me?

On behalf of the followers of Jesus, let’s just say this, our good, good Father, thank you for loving us so much that in spite of our sin, you sent your own Son to die for us and we just acknowledge that we are sinners, that we have committed wrong. We’ve walked away from you. And we deserve death, we earned it. The wages of sin is death and yet you pursued us. You came after us. You’ve woken our hearts to your love and we said yes, and we have experienced forgiveness. We have experienced new life. We’ve experienced a relationship with you that begins now and because we’ve experienced it all, Lord, we have tasted freedom. And so we say thank you. Thank you for setting us free with the truth.

If you’re a follower of Jesus, would you do something? Would you begin praying for the people sitting around you and all of our campuses in South Denver, those of you watching online? I wanna speak to you. If you’re not a follower of Jesus, maybe you’re here today and something clicked. Maybe there’s something in you that, if you’re honest, you go, I actually do believe Jesus rose from the dead. I believe the grave is empty. I believe that that’s the best explanation for Christianity. And if he can rise from the dead, then he is who he says he is. He is the Son of God. And if he is who he says he is, then yeah, I think he can do what he says he can do. He can forgive me. He can set me free from my guilt and my shame. He can offer me a new life. If you’re honest with yourself and you believe that, then today is the day that it’s time to trust. And if you’d like to put your faith in Jesus to receive that forgiveness and that new life and all those things that are true and they’re just waiting for you to receive them, if you’d like to do that, here’s how you do it. Just in your own hearts, you have this conversation with God. I’ll give you the words, but you say them to your Creator. Say:

God, thank you for loving me. I’ve done wrong. I’ve sinned and I’m sorry. I know I can’t fix it. But Jesus, I believe that you came to fix it for me. Jesus, I believe that you died on the cross for my sins. I believe you rose from the dead. I believe you’re offering me forgiveness, freedom, and a relationship with God and I’m ready to say yes. Jesus, I’m ready to trust what you did for me. So right here, right now I’m saying yes to you, Jesus. I’m putting my faith in you. Come into my life. Take your place because I’m yours for now and forever. Amen.

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