Are We Preaching the Gospel or Are We Proclaiming Our Superiority

I have been more and more troubled of late as God teaches me more about peace, simplicity and the import of relationship versus religion and how divergent this is from my upbringing of the import of factually knowing certain doctrines that were described as being the Truth. I think this is complicated by the fact that Jesus describes the Kingdom as something that is obtained by having the attitude of a child and that His teachings were more designed to point His followers to the character of Who God Is than to pointing them to a particular set of rules or principles. He generally simplified the rules to one: love. He also was described as preaching and teaching the gospel of the Kingdom, and we have many of his parables about what the Kingdom is like. Those stories don’t build complex sytematic theologies.

This concern is also complicated by seeing God as spending all of eternity providing a way to reconcile our relationship with Him even while we were yet sinners, completely undeserving of His grace, no matter how smart we might be.

Then, I start reading the letters in the New Testament.

Galatians: Paul makes clear that you better be preaching the right gospel. Don’t add to it and don’t take from it. What is the gospel? Grace. Jesus gave of Himself for us.

Romans and Ephesians: God chose us and adopted us as His children. He is our Daddy!!!

Philippians: Christ! Everyone knows about Christ since I’m in chains! Sure, some preach Christ from impure motives, I mean, they are people, but people are hearing about Jesus and that is cool.

Colossians: Jesus is! And Jesus saves us and through Him we are joint heirs of the Kingdom!

1 Corinthians: I made sure that I didn’t preach or know anything among you except Christ and Christ crucified. (“Let’s keep the main thing the main thing!”)

1 and 2 Thessalonians: Praise God and thank God for your faith!

And, in many of these the main thing Paul is praying for the Church is that they would increase in their knowledge of God. Note that this word for knowledge isn’t the word for factual, historical, informational knowledge. It is a word for the type of knowledge you gain when you have an intimate relationship with a person. It’s the Greek equivalent of the word used to describe how Adam knew Eve. Paul’s focus is Jesus, faith in Jesus, a relationship with the Father through Jesus, and advancing the Kingdom that Jesus brings.

How do we get from that focus to a focus on who is or is not a proper Great Commission Christian? How do we end up fighting and separating over how people are baptized, whether one should speak in tongues, whether alcohol is okay, what music to listen to, how to take Communion, and the like? Are we still focused on Jesus? Are we really going to be able to run the race when we spend all our time defining who is qualified to run the race with us rather than just running by faith? Are we being like Christ when the things we count as important are the result of intellectual acumen rather than faith in God? Are we going to be more concerned with telling others that Jesus died for them because we love them than we are telling them that they have to know certain things about various doctrines to really understand God? If we are going to draw lines in the sand on who is a good Christian based on their understanding of disputable teachings are we, like the Church at Galatia, adding to the gospel that Paul preached and in danger of being eternally condemned because we don’t know the true gospel at all??

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Previous post Peacemakers Don’t Separate – First Draft, A Ramble
Next post KISS – Keep It Simple on Saturday