The Great All-Inclusive Christ’

By Neil Earle

Sir Philip Gibbs was an English journalist who found himself jailed for reporting the truth about the high British casualties in World War One (1914-1918).

Later he wrote on “The Soul of England” and made a great statement on the concern he felt for the bitterness and hostility among the survivors of World War One. It is a motto many times quoted at meetings on healing and reconciliation.

“It is time to shake the world anew with the message of the great all-inclusive Christ, in which there is nether bond nor free, Jew nor Greek, Scythian or barbarian, but all are one in Christ” (Colossians 3:11).

That was true after WW1 and it is true today. In the wake of the George Zimmerman trial in Florida it is obvious that – to be very modest about it – a lot of people in this country just do not like each other. As one of Martin Luther King's close friends said, We find ourselves fighting a civil war almost every several years.

The Soul-Winning, Attractive Jesus

In God’s great plan the Church was to be the continuation of Christ’s body on earth – Jesus, the great all-inclusive Christ. The Church too has had its problems with inclusiveness over the centuries but it carries on anyway, swimming upstream against its own self, knowing that there are always brave people out there in every generation living the life and bringing the healing ministry of Jesus to their apartments, buildings, city blocks, neighborhoods and towns.

In offering these spiritual cups of cold water they take their cue form the Attractive Christ, the All-Inclusive One.

The other day I was reading a sermon outline by a minister and preacher named Stephen Olford on exactly how warm and accepting Jesus Christ really was. He made three sharp points to which I attached a few texts.

  1. Jesus Attracts People Wherever They Are. The first disciples were spreading their nets or fixing their nets by the busy Sea of Galilee seashore when Jesus made his invitation. Matthew 4:18-22 is that great passage where he said, Come and follow me and I will make you fishers of men.

  2. Jesus Attracts People Whoever They Are. The woman at the well had had five husbands and was then living in a common-law relationship but…Jesus talked to her, a lot (John 4:16-18). She eventually became the unlikely evangelist to the town of Samaria (John 4:28-29). She had her problems but Jesus found he could converse with her and the results were spectacular (4:39).

  3. He Attracts People Whatever They Are. The thief on the cross knew his sins and his problems but he also knew Jesus Christ after observing him close-up in the most excruciating place imaginable – dying on a hilltop nailed to a cross. He was not rebuffed when he asked Jesus to make a place for him. “Today you will be with me in paradise,” Jesus promised.

Man on a Mission

So there we have it – just a few verbal snapshots of the Great All-Inclusive Christ Gibbs was talking about. The Book of John is great on this theme.

We see Jesus in action early in John 1 when he attracts the attention of two of John the Baptizers disciples and they ask him, Master, where are you staying? Come and see, Jesus replied (John 1:38-39).

In John 4 we meet Jesus talking to high-ranking leaders in the nation (Nicodemus). Then there is the Samaritan woman (John 4) a Roman official (John 4:40), and a man lame for 38 years (John 5). That is a wide spectrum of people and Jesus met and interacted with them all.

Why? Because he was a man on a mission. He had been sent to give people some idea of what the Father in heaven was like (John 5:19-20). The great phrase for this connectedness is John 1:18 in the King James Version – the only begotten son who is in the bosom of the Father. Jesus and the Father we could say are “bosom buddies” before time began. Jesus was not created – not a creature – but eternally generated by the Father before time itself began. This ,means there is no question of if inferiority or subordination between Jesus and his Father. In him dwelt the fullness of Deity (Colossians 1:19). Except of course during his earthly sojourn he humbled himself to take on human flesh and forego some of the glory he had had in heaven (John 17:5).

One in Christ

This is the heart of the Trinity doctrine but the Trinity defines a Godhead in loving and fruitful relationship with itself (John 11:40-44). That is the relationship that Jesus made possible for all people by his atoning and reconciling work on the cross. There he purged all sin and made access to the father possible for all (Hebrews 1:1-3; Ephesians 2:16-18). It doesn’t get more inclusive than that.

“The glory that you have given me I have given to them that they may be one even as we are one. I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one so that the world may know that you sent me and loved me” (John 17:22-23, ESV). That is a quote from Jesus’ great High Priestly prayer in John 17 and it is a thrill to read this with the connection between us and the Godhead in mind.

We have been sent into the world to continue on with Jesus’ healing mission, as St. Francis clarified so wonderfully in the 1100s:

Make me a channel of your peace,
Where there is hatred let me bring your love,
Where there is injury your pardon Lord,
And where there’s doubt true faith in you.
O Master grant that I may never seek
So much to be consoled as to console,
To be understood as to understand,
To be loved as to love with all my soul.
Make me a channel of your peace,
Where there’s despair in life let me bring hope,
Where there is darkness only light,
And where there’s sadness ever joy.
For it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
And in dying that we’re born to eternal life.”

So there we have it. What an impossible agenda without the power and presence of God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. Every once in a while God sends us saints like Francis to repave the road of salvation. We are challenged to be as inclusive as Jesus was, to spread his attitude by possessing it ourselves, to always bring the good news and to be willing to talk to anybody. That way the work Jesus started will continue and fewer people in our country may be as hateful to others as they appear to be.