Jesus welcomes religious and non-religious people alike.
More than a Historical Figure.
Jesus Christ is much more than a historical figure; he is the living Son of God who has established the kingdom of God and invites us all to participate. He relates to us person-to-person, and desires to shape our lives according to his purposes.
Christians are followers of Jesus Christ. Sometimes we focus on the church’s doctrine or on the practices of the Christian faith to the exclusion of our focus on Christ himself. The first experience of authentic Christianity is to hear the call of Christ and to follow him. Jesus extends this call to the entire human race, to both those who are religious and nonreligious alike.
In the Gospel of John there are two stories side-by-side where Jesus spoke to two people on the opposite ends of the social spectrum: Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews, and the woman of Samaria whose life was in ruin. Jesus related to them equally and spoke to them about the spiritual kingdom of God.
Jesus and Nicodemus – John 3
Nicodemus was a member of the Sanhedrin, the highest body of government in the Jewish nation. It climbed to the pinnacle of religious achievement and was well-respected by his peers. Everyone knew his name. Yet in spite of all this, he recognized that Jesus of Nazareth had something he did not. He recognized that Jesus was a prophet who had come from God, because no one could do the miraculous signs that Jesus did unless God were with him. Nicodemus came to Jesus at night so as not to be seen by others. Jesus welcomed him inspiring of his hesitancy and fear.
Jesus began to explain to Nicodemus the spiritual nature of the kingdom of God. This was entirely new information to Nicodemus, and he was greatly confused. Jesus explained the truth in the simplest of terms without judgment or condemnation. From this point, Nicodemus became a follower of Christ.
The Woman at the Well – John 4
As Jesus was passing through Samaria, he encountered a woman at a well. The Jews had no dealings with Samaritans, and men did not speak to women publicly, yet Jesus broke through all of these boundaries in order to reach out to this woman. As it turns out, her life is a wreck. She has had five husbands, and the man that she is living with is not her husband. Jesus does not judge her, but begins to teach her about the spiritual kingdom of God.
The woman was so overcome that she ran back to her village to tell people about her encounter with Jesus. Many Samaritans from that village believed in Christ because of the woman’s testimony. Jesus stayed in the village for two days and many people were converted.
The Spiritual Kingdom
Jesus spoke to Nicodemus and to the woman at the well of the same spiritual kingdom of God. This kingdom of God that Jesus came to establish transcends all human government. It is generated by the work of the Holy Spirit who enlightens our mind to God’s truth. The Holy Spirit brings us through a time of reorientation and training called “discipleship,” and prepares us for service in the kingdom. The invitation to participate in the kingdom is extended to people of all races and nationalities. The kingdom of God is therefore a global reality that binds people together as brothers and sisters of one family of God.