IN: Incarnation & Inclusion, Abba & Lamb.
In Brad Jersak’s new book, we find out that the God revealed by Jesus is “all in” on all of us being “all in” with Him.
As Jersak’s wife, Eden, notes in her eloquent introduction, their marriage has been one of ever expanding awareness that God’s visionary will-to-include is far broader than is our humanly myopic will-to-exclude. Living off the errant Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil puts functional “blinders” over our eyes which constrict and collapse our panoramic understanding of God’s inclusive ways.
The author’s premise is that what has been generally accepted as two antagonistic and inimical principles are, in truth, complementary concepts meant to be daring dance partners rather than battling boxers.
Here are the two concepts.
1. Christ’s one-of-a-kind revelation
2. Abba’s all-inclusive love
Jersak believes that “Scripture and Christ himself affirm both these doctrines in a mind-blowing fullness.”
IN’s prevailing point is that the revelation of Jesus Christ presents a unique and unmatched clarity ABOUT God’s kingdom of love and light, while simultaneously painting a portrait of a divine Abba who leaves no lamb lost and excluded.
Jesus, then, is the personified cure for all OUR ignorance regarding God’s personality. The Acts 17 incident where Paul uses the Athenians’ Temple to the Unknown God serves as an example of a people who were ignorant OF God’s nature and virtue, but not ignorant of God’s existence and canvassing presence. Paul’s evangelism here was merely filling in the gaps of their admitted ignorance of God’s nature. It was as if they could see the outline of God’s image covered by a sheet, but needed help from Paul in pulling the sheet off and unveiling the messianic masterpiece of who was underneath.
Jersak takes us in a journey of divine compassion through Scripture, an imagined dialogue with John Wesley, some brushes with the church fathers, the delight of our divinization, a guided tour of the New Jerusalem, a quick rafting trip though the River of Life, and a festive encounter during the Year of Jubilee.
IN reveals that the Old Covenant’s behavior-based acceptance will always result in zealous exclusion, while the New Covenant’s love-based acceptance will always result in radical inclusion. Jesus is the great unveiling of what William Law termed “God’s eternal and unchangeable will-to-all-goodness.”
The author does a deft job of recounting passage after passage of God jolting the sensibilities of zealous exclusionists by overturning their “members only” tables and welcoming those who had been previously rejected. A subversive stream runs throughout the subtext of Scripture which reveals the rescuing cavalry charge of radical inclusion always triumphing over zealous exclusion at the nth hour.
Just when the religious leaders of each Biblical epoch resolutely decided who was “in” and who was “out” of God’s favor, a transformative event of radical acceptance would descend from Heaven’s heart. Jersak tracks and scouts these events connecting all the relational dots in the narratives of Cornelius’ House, Ruth and Boaz, Isaiah’s Temple, the Names of God, and so many others.
IN’s prismatic message welcomes ALL humanity as the irrevocably beloved offspring of a relentlessly paternal God, while simultaneously preserving the revelation of Jesus Christ as the sole Rosetta Stone of God’s character, nature, and personality. While ALL may authentically encounter God, and ALL are certainly within the ambit of His love and acceptance, ONLY Jesus brings exact, abiding, and undistorted clarity to our image of God.
Jesus is the only autofocus of His beloved Abba. Everybody needs Christ’s indwelling Spirit to remove our blurry and occluded perceptions of a partially unknown God.
IN: Incarnation & Inclusion, Abba & Lamb is a theological treasure which is intimately relational at heart, compassionately conversational in tone, and readily accessible to all— just like the God it proposes.