In a recent exchange with my friend Wain Myers author of soon to be released “From Baptist Preacher to Mormon Teacher”, I was reminded of a comment made to Oprah Winfrey a few years ago by Joel Osteen – (Pastor of Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas). During their conversation not only did Pastor Osteen say that Peter, James, and John were outdated, he also said they were wrong and needed to be rebuked. For all you evangelicals clutching your pearls, hold up cause there is more. When Oprah asked if people who are openly practicing homosexuals are accepted into the Kingdom, Joel Osteen’s response was “Absolutely, anybody is.” If you missed it on Oprah, hopefully you you caught it when he repeated it on Piers Morgan, or one of the other media outlets that interviewed him. Pastor Osteen went on to quote John 7:16-18, which by the way, was an O.G. move. Had Joel Osteen been from “The streets to preach” program like a few pastors I know, he would have just dropped the mic, or since it was a televised interview he might’ve just rolled his eyes, thew up his hands, and hit Mr. Morgan wit a “com’on somebody!” Joel Osteen is respected because he preaches from a podium of inclusiveness.
Jesus taught that the gospel much like to atonement is for everyone. When the societal message to the woman with the issue of blood was, stay away, hide, you are unclean and we don’t want to see you and we certainly don’t want you near our Jesus. Jesus actions toward her testified that He wasn’t bout that life. Instead of shunning and shaming her, Jesus said “Daughter, be of good comfort: thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace.” Jesus responded in a similar way to the Canaanite woman who cried after him to heal her daughter who was possessed with a devil. I don’t know how long this sista was following Jesus around, hollering and crying. However long it was, it was it was to long for the disciples. She must’ve been getting on their nerves ‘cause they wanted Jesus to send her away! Isn’t it interesting that with all the begging and crying she was doing, Jesus response came only after the disciples pushed him to get rid of her? Jesus told her that he wasn’t sent to her, he was sent to the “lost sheep of Israel“.
For those struggling to understand the significance of the message being sent here, that’s like Jesus being a white dude with big blue eyes and long blonde hair, telling all the brown people that he ain’t checking for them, he is only checking for his people, white people. Folks would be HOT!!! However, that comment didn’t even phase this sista, she begin to worship him pleading with him to help her. When Jesus told her, “It is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it to dogs.” For the majority of us, the story would have ended right there! You ain’t got to admit it, but you know I ain’t lying, right? Some of us would still be all caught up in our feelings and mad at white Jesus. Let’s not even pretend like the majority of us (yep, I’m talking about myself too) wouldn’t have flipped the script on Jesus. We would have been so mad, we would have bounced and snatched his bucket of fish, then pushed Peter, James, and John on our way back to Canaan. Let’s be real, only a few of us would have been humble enough, focused enough to leave with the blessing that we went seeking. Yet, instead, of arguing (like some of
y’all us would have been) she agreed with Jesus saying “#Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.” It was then that Jesus said “O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour.”
I know that some of y’all are saying “What does the woman with an issue of blood, the crying Canaanite, and ol’ smiling Joel have to do with whether or not Mormons are Christian?” My response is: absolutely nothing, and everything! World renowned Pastor T.D. Jakes (founder of The Potters House ) commented “Christians will never agree on every theological issue any more than the colors of our skin will all suddenly match. Finite minds cannot wrap around an infinite God, or the limitless revelation of his wisdom and beauty. But we can all agree on whom we worship: He is the Great I AM.” Amen, Bishop T.D. Jakes, Amen! The name of our congregations, other books we call scriptures, and the amount of people willing to validate our walk with Christ, none of that matters. The core of Christianity shouldn’t be how we worship, but who we worship. Our end goal should always be eternal life with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Jesus was constantly reminding the disciples to stay in their lane! When the disciples told him to send the woman with the issue of blood away, Jesus blessed her! When they told him to send the 5000 away because there wasn’t enough food for them, Jesus fed them. The disciples broke bread with Jesus, they thought they knew him, yet he had to continually correct them and their way of thinking, what would his message be to those willing to abandon me because I don’t praise in a manner that makes them feel comfortable?
While I don’t look to Joel Osteen, or T.D. Jakes, n’em to validate my walk with the Savior, I will admit, it does feel good to know that there are at least two fellow Christians willing to work along side me to help build up the kingdom without getting caught up in the integrity of my personal convictions. When Jesus began to feed the multitude of people, he didn’t just feed those who got there on time, even those who show’d up after the food was blessed got to eat until their bellies were full. My parents and my upbringing in the Pentecostal and Mormon church have propelled my belief in a God who provides more then enough! He also sees my humble offerings as enough. My upbringing in worship was so diverse that there isn’t a man or woman who stands in front of or behind a pulpit that can tell me that I am not His! I’m sure that some “Christians” will likely read this and want to quarrel with me about why I can’t be a Christian, I’m not interested in that conversation. Their thinking is already to shallow for me because they don’t understand the grace God pours out on all his children. Besides, the great I AM, has already claimed me, and “I am” His! And, it’s because I’m His, that I will always set the record straight.
The scriptures say “by their fruit they shall be known. I’m not only here to let folks know that I’m a Christian, I’m also here to remind my “Christian” brothas and sistas that when they place boundaries on God, Jesus, the Holy Ghost, even the Kingdom, it only confines them. Why are some Christians so threatened by those of us who believe that the Book of Mormon is yet another testament of Jesus Christ? Is their knowledge of discipleship so limited to the infinite power of the atonement and Christ ability to save all that they can only consider themselves a Christian, if I am not? The self-made boarders placed on what it means to be a Christian, only imprisons those who profess to be the gate keepers. Which reveals a lack of faith on their part, as believers we claim to believe in a living God, correct? Yet, by taking on the responsibility to be the gate keeper of Christianity we miss opportunities to see God’s love fully shine in our lives.
In the story of the prodigal son, you have two brothers, the older brother that stayed home, and the younger brother, who asked his father for his bounty and bounced! After wondering the world and losing everything the prodigal son returned home. His father was so happy to see him that he threw a grand celebration in honor of his returned son. The older brother could not wrap his mind around the boundless love his father had for his wayward brother. He was so caught up thinking about what he thought his brother returned to pursue (more inheritance). That he missed out on the grand celebration. He willingly forfeited something that was wayyy more precious then gold and silver, joyfully being in the presence of his father.
Like every Christian, I too desire to joyfully be in the presence of my Father! In my mind’s eye, there will be Christians from every denomination and multiple congregations at our Fathers grand celebration. I thoroughly enjoy visiting my brothers and sisters of other Christian denominations. I enjoy sharing my light with them and partaking of theirs. As a Christian, I feel it’s important to search for commonalities I can bear witness too, not look for evidence that makes my worship right and theirs wrong. I hope this article brings peace to the minds of those content enough in their own faith that they can support me in mine. Cause I’m not interested in wasting my time in the presence of bitter brothers and sisters who are not for me! To those who sincerely question “are Mormons Christians too?” Yes, we are!
Blessed & Favored!