Sunday Reflection: Out of Sorts

Pardon the lateness of this post, but it's midterm time -- with any luck, the last midterms I'll have to take for a while.

On March 26th, we gave Mark a breather and bebopped back to John's gospel:
For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son,
so that everyone who believes in him might not perish
but might have eternal life.
For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world,
but that the world might be saved through him.
Beautiful words of inclusion and hope for the entire race of humanity. Christ came not to condemn, but to save. And to save the world -- not only the Jews, not only the Roman and Greeks, but all the world. Throughout all of time. In all places and situations.

The next words are a little less comforting:
Whoever believes in him will not be condemned,
but whoever does not believe has already been condemned,
because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.
Why uncomfortable? Because they feed into the belief system of those who believe that Jews, other non-Christians and even insufficient Christians (usually defined as groups oher than our own) are condemned. Why: because they do not express faith in the very name of Jesus.

Those who hate non-Christians (let's face it, it's about hate, not pity) see these words literally: to avoid condemnation, one must express belief in Jesus Christ, the savior acclaimed by Christians. Tough if you grew up in a non-Christian culture; tough if you grew up in the years BC; tough if you live in a place that hates religion.

But can we see Christ -- the Eternal Word of God -- as having a few more cards up his sleeve? Can Christ speak to human beings -- made in the image of the Father and imprinted with natural morality -- in ways other than by way of his followers and his Church? If we are to see Christ as more than a cosmic sorting machine -- those who know him heading to Heaven, those who don't to perdition -- we must broaden our horizons. The theologians are going to have to catch up to God on this one.
Photo from The Wool Peddlar ( depicting a woman sorting colored yarns for use in making Indian saris.