Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Is our Gospel too small?


A recent Christianity Today article has me thinking about the Gospel we preach. Is the Gospel we preach like a bowl of Lima Beans and bland? I know few people who get excited about eating lima beans. I eat them, but I wouldn't special order them. I sort of tolerate them as filler in with other vegetables in a medley. Is that the Gospel we preach today?

Quoting from the article:

"How could it be, some believers might balk, that "the hope of the world," the One given "the name above every name," could ever seem bland? Well, because often the church is bland. Pale. Gullible. Pasty. Just there. The fruit of this vine appears to be lima beans. If bland is the flavor of the church, then it is presumed to be the flavor of the One the church calls Lord.

This anemic image of Jesus has many adherents, both in and outside the church. Their innocuous Jesus is the result of social, political, economic, and spiritual accommodation. Who needs more from Jesus than some simple stories of a loving example? To go further would be zealous, and to be religiously zealous is definitely not a current cultural ideal. Those in the church who stand out are often seen as intolerant and intolerable. Better the disdainfully bland than the dangerously zealous.

It's a misstep, some would say, to take Jesus—his example and his teaching—too seriously. To do so is to get too close to all those details that hound religious specialists, breed religious acrimony, and cause war. Jesus from 10,000 feet away is close enough. The Google Earth view of Jesus identifies only the most prominent features of his life and teachings, bringing nothing too close and taking nothing too seriously. Such a Jesus may be vaguely interesting, but he is consigned to blandness and faint praise."

The church is bland and lacks spice. I'm surprised he didn't say that it has lost its saltiness. That would tie right back into one of Jesus' admonitions. Not that the church needs to be the coolest, hippest, spiciest thing out there. But we have a message of revolutionary love that is like nothing that the world has to offer. The Creator of the Universe wants to dwell with us an in us. He wants to make it so that we can have communion with Him and live in the power of His Love. That is spicy, not bland.

As you may have read, our congregation is in the process of securing our first building. This has me asking "how has the place where we corporately worshiped shaped what we do?" Have the limitations of space and availability taken some of the zing out of our Gospel? If so, how do we remove the blandness and present a full gospel with all of the excitement, hope and passion that our Lord brought to us?

Pray for our tribe as we sort through this transition time. Jesus deserves a robust gospel presentation, not lima beans.

1 comment:

john rister said...

Leadership magizine (January issue)also has a story on the gospel being to small. Is it the same article? I do have to ponder this question and I think I think that I do not agree with thinking. Our gospel might be small in terms of where we save it, but the words are the same powerful words of salvation and forgiveness. Thoses are huge in any form and thought. Just a thought!