Thursday, May 7, 2009

The Gospel

I once had this great marketing scheme for a church I was helping out with, using the term marketing scheme and church in the same sentence makes my stomach turn now, but at that time I was all about marketing the church so therefore I had this idea. This idea was to make a t-shirt that simply said “Jesus Hates Religion” As you can guess this raised the hair on the backs of many Christians’ neck and naturally put me on the defensive.

When I first started following Jesus I was very much at odds with the church and didn’t like it very much. I had an expectation and fear though that eventually I would conform to the very thing I was at odds with. Funny thing is that the more and more I learned about Jesus and the more I read the Bible and the beautiful stories of His ministry the further I found myself from the conventional American Christian church. Out of complete boredom my fingers have led my mind through a barrage of late night televangelists that leave my thirst for the Gospel and power of Christ parched. I’ve stood at the back of a building on a Sunday morning at an event people call church and wondered if I were missing something or if this was it. Countless amount of things that call themselves Christian and gospel-centric have left me bewildered and full of disappointment. I’ve felt ostracized and isolated for actually following the Jesus of the Bible by others who say they are doing the same thing.

I read the book of Galatians a couple nights ago and my jaw dropped. As I shut my bible and slid it away from me on the table in front of me, I stared into the empty airspace before my eyes speechless, like my mind was just turned onto something. I call these little moments, aha moments. These moments fall into a list of reasons for my being happy to have my own place. When these things happen I just want to run in circles, do some jumping jacks, squeal like a little girl, and just smile really big. If you have time to read this I’m sure it wouldn’t totally ruin your busy schedule to go read Galatians, it’s only 5 chapters. Here’s the deal though, read it like a letter, don’t study to hard as you read through it, just read it as a letter from a beloved friend.

Paul was calling the Galatians out on accepting a Gospel that is not the gospel they were originally taught and changed by. Instead of accepting grace they were now being taught and actually believing that they had to obey the law. Basically Paul was blown away that they so quickly accepted and acted on this gospel almost contrary to the message that changed them, the true gospel of Jesus. He over and over again states how it is not about man and his ways or message, but about Jesus’ message of grace. This is what caused my bible to slide across the table and my jaw drop, a total parallel to what goes on and is going on in the church in America today. Here are a couple examples to help wet your appetite more. I watched a documentary on the other night. The overall answer they got from Christian organizations about wanting to come and speak to people about being freed from porn addiction was a big fat no. No one wanted part in this message that could offend people, they didn’t want to talk about the taboo, or mess up any system they already had going. Two good friends of mine go into a meeting a pitch an idea for raising support for a cause I think Christ would be more about than most things. Their idea was laughed at. It didn’t fit the mold of the message or model they had already set up so they laughed at my friends. Many young people, especially my age, feel like they are standing alone in the back of a religion they really don’t buy into, but are too afraid to stand up in. I think Paul would write a letter to these churches and their leaders sometimes and say, “I’m surprised you have gone away from the original message you were taught and changed by and how you have your own now.” Even if it is a good message, a message based on Jesus message is not Jesus’ message. Jesus’ message is the gospel…period! Don’t feel lonely, don’t feel isolated and like something is wrong with you, hold tight to the only gospel and reject all others. If you do not fit into a certain message or plan or model based on any gospel other than Jesus’ find comfort in what Paul says in the first chapter,

Am I now trying to win human approval, or God’s approval? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ (Galatians 1:10).

Please Christ and stick to the gospel, His gospel, no on else’s.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for being so transparent Adam. You are right...God does hate religion. It is the religious people who don't like to receive that message. It is so easy for churches to become inward focused and get caught up in the rules (and making new ones) and forget that Jesus was all about the outward practical application of the relationship with Him daily in all circumstances. I too wish (and pray) for "the church" here in North America to get back to "basics"!