20071230

an unpopular gospel:

the idea that the american church "sells" a gospel is not that hard to grasp, because it spends millions on trying to make the gospel message popular. well, actually they spend billions, not millions. in my opinion, the american church spends more on trying to get people to "swallow" a palatable gospel message, that it has lost connect with what the gospel message is all about. it has spent billions on trying to smooth over the rough edges of the message that in reality the message has become so "milk toast" it is of no value to anyone. let me share with you how i see it:

"God Loves You"
the american church has called this to be the center of all it is - it is the driving mantra of the church and the core to all the american church holds dear. but what surprised me the most is the reality that jesus speaks more of how much we are to love God then on how much God loves us [in fact, the only time jesus speaks of "God loving us" is when he speaks of "God loves the world"]. At some level it is a given that God loves us [God loves the world], but it is not a given that we love God [but it should be]. you see, our love of God is so very important to how we see our faith and how we act out our faith. if we look at the words of matthew, mark and luke we see that the center of our love for God moves us to loving others. in fact jesus tells us that if we do not love God we can not love others [jesus shares the truth that if we say we love our brother, but we do not love God, we lie]. so our love for God is center to how we think and act in our walk with others.

salvation as an event:
i am not sure i am on the side of the "accept jesus, say a prayer and all is right and you are saved." to me, the process seems a little deeper, a little more "expensive" then the cheap grace of a quick prayer and a fast dip in water. paul talks about "working out our salvation" [phillippians 2:12] and the word paul uses for salvation is "soteria" and implies a present and future reality. when paul is speaking about "working out salvation" he is implying that salvation is a process and not an event. in 1 corinthians 1:18 paul seems to be speaking of a process, or "perishing" and "are being saved" - the deeper i look into the idea of salvation the more i am coming to believe it is a process and not an "event."

putting yourself first:
too many churches seem to want to make faith a "me thing." a thing where you are better then others, where you have more value then others and where "prosperity" drives our connection with God. they seem to be saying that if you are not "the boss" or "the richest" or the "overseer" you are not truly right with God - but jesus says just the opposite. You see, jesus calls us to be slaves [doulos] to others - not "servant leaders" but slaves, "bond slaves" - not a popular idea, but one that seems to be echoed many times by jesus. we need to remember it is never what you get, but what you give, that matters the most.

i am a realist and i know it is hard to "sell" the unpopular aspects of a gospel where we less then others, called to love God and where we have to work out our salvation in fear and trembling. but then again, what are we "selling?"

1 comment:

Landoe family said...

John,

Read your blog today and must say I share the same feelings about many of the points you touch on. In particular, when you say salvation is a process, I couldn't agree more. While there are numerous scriptures that point to this, I love analogies found in nature. For example, even precious stones that we prize to be of great worth, and which are a symbol of purity, take thousands of years to form under intense pressure and heat, with the brightest and clearest stones receiving a commensurate measure of heat and pressure.

Similarly, our strongest alloyed parts are formed using the forging process that uses white hot heat and high impact pressure (like a hammer), which aligns the crystal lattice structure of constituent elements to form a pure metalic grain structure without any impurities. This was how ancient Samurai swords were made, by forging, and modern science has not improved on that process to produce a more perfect crystal structure.

How then can we, which arguably are much more complex than a stone, or a sword, become the gem that he wants us to be? I have to agree with you that it is a process, trial and error, like ground hogs day over and over, until we get it right.

Like the Silversmith spoken of in Malachi 3:3, He is the one who refines us, over time, again and again, until He can see his reflection in us. We must learn to take the beatings of the forging hammer. Every spark that leaps out of us is like another impurity gone. We need to learn to bear our burdens with patience, develop an ‘eternal’ time horizon, and not get discouraged by temporary setbacks.

Like you said in your blog, life is a roller coaster. Every up and down takes on new meaning when you step back to look at the whole ride…as a whole and as a process. What a fun ride it can be when we see it the way He sees it.

I'm just getting into the blogging thing. Sorry about all the metaphors. So glad I found your blog and looking forward to checking in once in a while.

Joel Landoe