Christianity’s Responsibility Toward the Good News
Jesus, as the originator of the Good News, commanded that his disciples spread his teachings to the entire world. He said:
“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
– Matthew 28:19-20
His disciples obeyed this command to make disciples, immediately going forth throughout the known world converting many peoples and tribes and nations and tongues to the new religion of Christianity. They made disciples, true. But in many ways they failed to teach ‘the things Jesus commanded.’ As a result, Christianity became tainted with all manner of error.
Rather than being the religion of Jesus, Christianity became a religion about Jesus – a religion that faintly resembled the religion Jesus himself practiced.
We know that Christianity as a whole is not the religion Jesus practiced because of what we see in Christianity today and throughout the centuries. The amount of bloodshed, violence, intolerance, injustice, pomp and arrogance, and immorality that exists in Christianity is not a reflection of what Jesus believed, what Jesus taught, or what Jesus practiced. Yet in among the religions of Christianity were, and are, those individuals who did try to imitate Jesus and serve God as he did to the best of their ability. Unfortunately, these spiritual and faithful ones are the very ones who were persecuted the most by the religion that carries Jesus’ name.
Today, Christianity has made many strides in purifying itself of such behavior. The dark ages, the Inquisition, the witch hunts, and things like these, are things of the past. Christianity owes much of this refining to the civil governments that passed laws preventing such disrespect for human life. In the United States, one of the foremost reasons our government was formed was to protect the freedom of religion, including the freedom from oppressive religion. In these instances, the civil authorities are fulfilling their role as ‘ministers of God for our good.’ (Romans 13:1-4)
Also today, Christianity is slowly disengaging itself from superstitious and mystical ideas about life, and origins, and destinies thanks to advanced science. It is likewise refining its advice and counsel about temporal matters of life thanks to enlightened psychology and philosophy. Today, as never before in human history, Christianity has a real chance to carry out its intended purpose of lifting the minds and hearts of man to matters of the spirit and the divine; to let man know that their earthly, animal existence is only the beginning of life, and that if they would only look up and reach up, they have an eternal destiny ‘prepared for them from the founding of the world.’ (Ephesians 1:3-6)
Christianity thus refined serves as a congregation of ambassadors for the heavenly kingdom. (2 Corinthians 5:18-20) Similar to secular ambassadors, the ambassadors for Christ reside in a foreign nation – the earth – for the purpose of introducing and familiarizing their fellow humans with their new nation of future residence – the heavenly kingdom. Like secular ambassadors, ambassadors for Christ are charged with protecting and promoting the interests of the heavenly kingdom, welcoming those who seek to become citizens of the heavenly kingdom, and accurately portraying the mission of the heavenly kingdom when called upon by secular authorities.
In their diplomatic duties, they fraternize with all kinds of people, as did Jesus, for the purpose of fostering new fellowships, and educating the populace on what heavenly citizenship entails. They do not have to convert everyone to Christianity; but they are to teach everyone to be ‘Christ-like’ in their dealings with one another. Doctrines do not matter as much as does faith and love and a genuine desire to be Christ-like. As Jesus often said:
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
– John 3:16
“For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.”
– John 6:40
“Very truly I tell you, the one who believes has eternal life.”
– John 6:47
“Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life.”
– John 5:24
Yes, what is important is that one has the ability to exercise faith. If so, all other things will come in time. We can illustrate this point by looking at a sports franchise. A general manager who seeks good players is looking for those with knowledge of the game, the ability to play the game, the ability to play well with others, the ability to take direction, and the willingness to travel. It does not matter that a player has learned the strategies and game plans of other teams. If he has the abilities just mentioned, the general manager knows he can work with such a player and teach him the new rules when he joins the team.
Likewise, the Father is looking for those who have the ability to exercise faith in the promises of Jesus Christ, the ability to get along with others, the ability to learn and take direction from the spirit of truth, and the willingness to travel to the heavens! It does not matter much what beliefs and ideologies one has acquired in their association with various religious groups. All these matters will be worked out in the heavens where Christ will ‘perfect our faith.’ (Hebrews 12:2) If one has the abilities just mentioned, the Father can work with them.
We note that each national and racial group has its own values and customs. This beautiful diversity is not offensive to the Father. There is no need to change people so that they all look, act and think alike. Instead, the Father seeks unity of faith.
Jesus did not lay down multiple rules of conduct. He simply imposed two commandments:
“One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: ‘Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?’ Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
– Matthew 22:35-40
And he proffered the supreme law of fairness:
“So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.”
– Matthew 7:12
Jesus knew that people who are whole-souled to God will behave in a way that honors that relationship, without the need for ‘spiritual police.’ As John wrote:
“As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit—just as it has taught you, remain in him.”
– 1 John 2:27
Jesus did not focus on doctrines; he focused on spiritual things – the fruits of the spirit, “love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faith, mildness, self-control. Against such things there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22-23) Ambassadors substituting for Christ focus on these weightier matters as well. (Matthew 23:23)
They are also respectful of the “foreign nations,” in the same manner as would Jesus Christ, the one whom they represent. Ambassadors for the heavenly kingdom are not speaking of their own initiative. They are substituting for Christ and are therefore obliged to deal with others as Christ dealt with people during his earthly sojourn.
This is the mission of Christianity. Christianity is not the Kingdom of God; but it is its ambassador. Nor does the Kingdom belong to Christianity such that they can manipulate it and dictate who can be a citizen. The Kingdom of the Heavens belongs to the Father and his Christ and only they can decide who may and who may not enter. Those who take up the mantle of ambassadorship can only guide and encourage all to seek heavenly citizenship, but they cannot turn anyone away. And know that anyone who seeks to keep people from entering the Kingdom of the Heavens will be fired!
“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to. Look, your house is left to you desolate.”
– Matthew 23:13, 38
Thus, the Good News does indeed impose responsibilities on Christianity. They are to engage in a worldwide preaching and teaching work. Not to convert, but to educate all mankind about the Kingdom of the Heavens. And when the world is filled with this Good News, the end to the confusion, suffering, sorrow, and dysfunction will come.
If others choose to join us in this ministry and take up the mantle of ambassadorship, we welcome them. But not all will choose to join us. They may choose to teach the Good News to their own people in their own religions, without having to be converted to our particular religious association. However, they are still potential citizens of the Kingdom of the Heavens. Remember, Jesus is not just a leader of one religion or religious branch. He is the Creator of all mankind and everything in our universe.
“The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him.”
– Colossians 1:15-16
Jesus has a personal relationship with all mankind. The Good News of the kingdom transcends racial, national, and religious boundaries. The circumstances of one’s birth do not prevent anyone from access to the Father of All, the Christ, or the heavenly kingdom. It is Christianity’s role to inform and educate others so that they, too, may honor our Great Lord and Older Brother Jesus Christ, even as we honor the Grand Father of All.