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Sometimes you read a passage of scripture and assume that you know what it is talking about.  Here is one of my favorites:

Romans 10:9
That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
    I use to think I knew what that verse meant.

    But then I found out that “Caesar is Lord” was something that people confessed in the time and around the area in which this part of the Bible was written. It turns out that hundreds of years before Jesus was even born that Caesars were given titles like Son of God, Savior of the world, King of Kings, and many other that would be familiar to anyone who has read the Christmas story. 
    That is the funny thing – I am always saying that all content happens in a context and this is a great example!  Jesus is Lord was not created in a vacuum.  It was ‘borrowed’ from an actually saying and converted (as it were) to a political statement of subversion and disobedience .  Following Jesus is political rebellion. 
    The writers of Scripture took the famous titles used for Caesar and then ascribed them to a peasant from the backwoods !  They were saying something.
    I also found out some other stuff – like believing in God raising anyone from the dead was a real issue both for the Jewish mind ( Sadducees / Pharisee spit.  see: Acts 23:8 ) and also for the Greek / Roman mind (see the Gnostic / Docetist split).  So to believe that God had raised Jesus from the dead was really to view reality and physical / meta-physical things in a definite way. 
    To believe that God raised Jesus from the dead is to say “there is more to reality that simply what I can see”. This is rooted in history (and a historical event).
    Thirdly, as I have talked about before – being saved doesn’t just mean that your soul is going to heaven after you die.  Salvation in the original exodus motif is liberation from an oppressive Empire (Egypt at that point). Later when Israel had settled from it’s wanderings, it took on a ‘chicken in every pot’ sort of ‘everyone should have enough’ societal component.  Then, in Christ salvation became a transformational understanding of covenant. It was covenantal and it included all humanity. Later through church history salvation took on a Church/State component.   Recently salvation started to change into an Enlightenment understanding where salvation was of an individual. 
    I’m not making a statement about those transformations.  I just wanted to point it out, for the purpose of our passage.  
    So what those three elements come together to mean is: the government systems of this world are not my master (Jesus is Lord) , and there is more to reality that just what you can see (Jesus was raised from the dead) – that understanding then enables you to walk the way of Jesus (to be saved). 
    That is quite bit different than “I prayed a prayer one time, and I mentally acknowledge that a long time ago God did something powerful and so now,  the part of me that is not my body will go to heaven after I die.”  
Lets get to those four verses 
Matthew 7
13  Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.
    We talked before about the danger of swapping out ‘wide gate’ for hell and ‘narrow path’ for heaven.  No – Jesus was saying that the roads of the empire (the system ) are made wide and made smooth. They are the roads of the masses. They are the road of commerce. These wide roads lead to walled cities that have wide gates because that is the way that most people live.
    They are contrast to the roads made by indigenous people. When Rome makes roads, they bring a legion of soldiers and make a road capable of hauling their carriages. They did this so that the Roman Legion could get to even the furthest region of the Empire and put down any rebellion or uprising with swift and massive violence. The saying was “Rome makes a desert and calls it peace.”  
The Roman roads were made for and by the military (this is how empire works) and then commerce was able to utilize the road to export their business to the far corners of the empire. 
    Jesus was contrasting roads made for and by the military with those made by walking. Indigenous roads were smaller – like glorified walking paths that had been improved on. They led to much smaller towns with smaller walls and thus smaller gates. 
    Jesus wasn’t saying “Many people are going to hell and that is easy to do (the wide road) but only a few are going to heaven (the narrow gate)”.   
    Jesus is saying  Many people live by the law of empire with military violence and colonial commerce. Don’t walk that obvious road – it leads to destruction. As Jews we have a path that is made by our people – it may look small and humble but it leads to life. Rome’s way is popular and most participate – God’s way is a backroad and not many choose to take it.
John 3:3
Jesus says to this religious professional “no one can see kingdom of God,unless you are born again.”  (or born from above)
    Jesus was not saying “you must have an internal individual experience so that after you die the part of you that is not your body can go to heaven”.  Jesus is telling a man who had the public position of being religious “You have start again – you have to approach it like a child – you have to be vulnerable … like a baby” 
    Jesus wasn’t being literal. You don’t actually have to be born a second time. The Bible is not meant to be read literally in places like this.  Jesus was not saying that every human being must have an experience where they realize that they are dirty sinner and repent of their sins by saying them out loud and repeating a prayer that asks Jesus into their heart. 
    Jesus is saying if you want to see what God is doing (the kingdom) then you will have to start again – don’t assume that you are already in and that you already get it. Begin again for the first time. 
John 14:6
6  Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7  If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”
    As in the John 3 passage, John 14 happens in a conversation where Jesus’ dialogue partners are having trouble understanding what he is saying.  
    Jesus is talking about how his father’s house has many rooms and how is going away to prepare a place for them.  Thomas says ‘we don’t know where you are going and thus we don’t know the way’.
    Let’s be clear on this 1) This is part of a conversation  2) this conversation happened in a context where Jesus (the master) had just washed his disciples feet in act of true humility where the status quo of leadership, titles and privilege were turned upside down 3) Jesus is not talking about why there will be no Hindus in heaven. 
    Jesus is not talking about Hindus.  That is not what he is addressing when he says that the is the way to having a relationship with the Father.  And let’s be honest – while as the Eternal Son and Second member of the Trinity in heaven he would have known about Hindus – and Muslims did not even exist yet – as the incarnate Christ he may not have even known about Hindus and certainly could not have known about Muslims.  So he is not telling us why no one is going to heaven except Christians. 
    Jesus is saying “There is lots of room for many different types of people in my Father’s house – and if you want to have a relationship with the Father like I have  (intimacy and power) then you have to walk in my way with me”. 
    The irony here is twofold: 1) many preachers have used this verse to say why Hindus are not going to heaven (as well as many others)  2) while they loudly proclaim that Jesus is the way – they do not walk in Jesus’ way of servant leadership, humility and turning over the status quo when it comes to status and power. 
    Jesus isn’t talking about heaven and hell.  Jesus is talking about the Way of Christ and how that is the way that one comes to have the kind of intimacy that he has with the Father. 
We might as just address the nature of the text as long as we are looking at the text.
2 Timothy 3
15  and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
    It probably goes without saying at this point – but this passage is not saying that the Bible is Infallible or Inerrant or any of those words that we insist on and call people heretics for not believing in the modern era. 
    It is simply saying that we believe that our Scriptures come from God – they are infused with God’s breath and life – that they are extremely useful for the work of the church and that  they are empowering and corrective – that they are authoritative for what God intended them. 
    In our scriptures, Adam was God breathed but not infallible (as Dan so eloquently pointed out).
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    So if we take the five passages of scripture from today and put them all together what we come out with is :
The government systems of this world are not our master, and there is more to reality that just what you can see – understanding that enables you to walk the way of Jesus (salvation from the way of this world).
Many people live by the law of empire with military violence and colonial commerce. Don’t walk that obvious road – it leads to destruction. People who live on the fringes and margins of Empire have a path that is made by people in a covenant with God (not ruling by violence and power but instead by love) – it may look small and humble but it leads to life. Rome’s way is popular and most participate in it – God’s way is a backroad and not many choose to take it.
If you want to see what God is doing (the kingdom) then you will have to start again – don’t assume that you are already in and that you already get it. Begin again for the first time.
There is lots of room for many different types of people in the Father’s house – and if you want to have a relationship with the Father like Jesus had with the Father (intimacy and power) then you have to walk in Jesus’ way.
We believe that our Scriptures come from God – they are infused with God’s life and animated by God’s wind – that makes them extremely useful for the work of the church and that  they are empowering and corrective – That they are authoritative for what God intended them for they are inspired by God’s very revelation. 
    I know that it is tough to read a scripture again for the first time. This reading is more Jewish, it is more organic, and it is more relational. All I ask is that you consider starting over (again) and seeing if there might be anything to it.
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