Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Too Small a Gospel

Luke 16:16 “The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John. Since that time, the good news of the kingdom of God is being preached, and everyone is forcing his way into it.” The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (electronic ed.) (Lk 16:16). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

It doesn’t seem to me that people are forcing their way into the Kingdom these days. People aren’t packing out the churches, clamoring for more of the truth and love of God’s Word. Even Christians seem to be content with a so-so life with Christ.

Yet Jesus said that there was something so compelling about the Kingdom of God coming that people were forcing their way into it. Why not now?

I think it’s because the Church is peddling a “too small gospel”. The good news according to most Christians is that we had a problem (sin), God was concerned for us, Jesus came and died on the cross for our problem, and we can go to heaven when it’s all said and done. This is a gospel about us. We had the problem, God fixed it for us, and the end goal was that we could go to heaven.

But the gospel is much bigger than that, and it is most certainly not about us at all. Jesus died for our sins and rose with all power not so that we might be saved and have a happy life, but so that we might be qualified to partake in the Kingdom of God. The goal of the cross was not simply our salvation but that the Kingdom of God might come into the hearts and lives of all people, and that we might join God in the mission of transformation and restoration and shalom – things being the way God intended.

When we invite people into a religion (or a relationship with God) that is all about them, it’s too small a story. Too many men think that their mission from God is to be good and moral, to stop looking at porn, to show up at church, and to be nice to their neighbors. Too many Christians think that the story of God is for us to have a sanitized moral life.

There is no adventure in that story. There is no mystery in that story. And there is no Kingdom Come in that story.

If our salvation story is simply about us, that is not the good news that Jesus proclaimed. Jesus’ good news was that, in Him, the Kingdom of God had arrived and was advancing, and regular people, ordinary sinners, could be transformed in extraordinary children of God, ambassadors of the King, filled with life and purpose that  comes from being caught up in a story that is larger than our simple lives. I think if we taught and lived that story, the Kingdom would be advancing and people would be clamoring to get in.