JESUS: The Universality of Christ, by Hubert van Zeller

To Be In Christ

The Universality of Christ Hubert van Zeller

From To Be In Christ

Our Lord makes it clear in his last discourse to his disciples that his prayer, and therefore his work of salvation, is not for them only but for all.  He prays to the Father, that the world may believe that you sent me so shall the world know that you sent me.  If our Christianity truly reflects the mind of Christ animating our minds, it must look to the whole of mankind.  If it is to be a supernatural religion and not a sectarian movement, it must be supranational: no racial, cultural, political divisions.  Jesus prayed that his followers might be one – that all may be one, as you, Father are in me and I in you– and though his followers have never yet been so united, the ideal of unity and catholicity still holds and must always hold.  A nationalistic religion may serve a cause but does not serve God.  The more religion is identified with an ethnic body, the farther it is removed from the body of Christ.  Go ye into the whole world and preach the gospel to every creature, to all nations.  Even more absurd than the idea of a Christianity for a particular caste or color would be a Christianity for one level of society and not another, for one economic grouping and not another.

It is true that kingdom of God was first preached to “the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”  Jesus gave to those who had been the chosen people the chance, before all others, of belonging to the universal church; but the “good news” was for all mankind.  This is brought out in a number of parables, especially those of the vineyard left untended and given to others, the supper to which guests of every sort were admitted, the mustard tree, the net cast into the sea.  Nor were the miracles for the Jews alone: witness the Syrophoenician woman whose daughter was cured and the Roman centurion who begged a cure for his servant.  A further indication that the gospel message was for all mankind might be seen in our Lord’s words: If any man thirsts let him come to me and drink, and whosoever does not carry his cross and come after me cannot become my disciple.

So the Judaism of Jesus was no restriction.  There is nothing in the Sermon on the Mount which would not equally apply to a Buddhist or a Hindu; indeed much of it is paralleled in Chinese and Hindu literature.  It is true that Jewish converts did not at once take to the notion of a universal church, and even Saint Peter had to be shown in a vision that gentiles were to be encouraged to join, but Saint Paul, happy to call himself “teacher of the nation,” stressed repeatedly the doctrine of grace and salvation to all.  The opportunity is open to everybody, even if not everybody takes advantage of it.  (To the Corinthians: It was in one Spirit that all of us, whether Jew or Greek, slave or free, were baptized into one body.  To the Romans: Does God belong to the Jews alone?  Is he not also the God of the gentiles?  To the Galatians: There does not exist among you Jew or Greek, slave or freeman, male or female; all are one in Christ Jesus.)  In the City of God, everyone is a first class citizen; in the Body of Christ, each cell is uniquely loved and redeemed.  The human race is not a haphazard aggregation, each entity bent on self-determination, but in gospel terminology a “flock.”  Only wolves and hireling shepherds are unwelcome into the fold and this is because they have excluded themselves.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: