Sunday, May 20, 2007

"If someone gave you a million dollars..."

"'d tell the whole world, wouldn't you!"

This is a phrase I've heard many times in my 'church life,' used essentially to guilt people into telling others about Jesus, who is worth far more than a million dollars. It sure sounds good. It's true that the good news of Jesus is worth far more than any amount of wealth that we could ever earn or stumble upon.

So, if the good news is so very valuable, why do preachers feel such a need to try to guilt people into sharing it? Is the good news of the gospel somehow not being made very obvious? Is "gospel" a word that has come to take on all kinds of other meanings, except what it really means? Has the word become so polluted that it doesn't really mean "good news" anymore?

Rather than being truly grateful due to the truth of the pure gospel (Christ has redeemed man and brought us close to God, by grace alone!), are we really ashamed of the "gospel" because we (the church) have made it into so many things that it really isn't? Has the gospel become an ongoing plea for funds so our "churches" and "ministries" can continue? Has the gospel simply become "church work?" Has the gospel become a life of fleshly works ("for God") that we're busily trying to maintain so that we can "advance the Kingdom of God?" Has the gospel become nothing more than an effort to "be excellent for God" or be a "promise keeper" or be "purpose driven" or to "live intentionally?" Has "sharing the gospel" really come to mean, "Come visit my church?"

Or how about this - In our hearts, we "believe" in the power of the gospel; we believe that God is good; we believe that God will never leave us or forsake us; we believe that "one day we'll go to heaven;" etc and etc, but the reality of Christ living His life in and through us, moment by moment, is something that can happen in only a few select "holy" people who have learned the spiritual disciplines and who have moved into that "higher level" in their spiritual walk.

I guess what I'm asking is... why is it that the church doesn't see the gospel as news that is so wonderfully good that we naturally and enthusiastically want to share it! What hinders us?

I'm suggesting that we've really and truly quenched the reality of the good news with all our church activities, programs and ministries, etc. I'm not saying that people's hearts are wrong in wanting to provide these wonderful ministries that often really do help people. But along with my link yesterday to the "It's just a thing..." post, I'm wondering if we have left the gospel behind in order to pursue these things? I've listed a few things... but what other things have we called "the gospel" that are really nothing more than fleshly attempts to fix man and get us doing church work and get us close to God apart from the grace of God and the person of Jesus?

I understand the desire for pastors and teachers, etc, to fulfill their callings of "equipping the saints for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ..." (Eph 4:12), but is it just me, or have we added all kinds of additional unnecessary works to the definition of "the work of the ministry?" Perhaps another way to word the question would be, in order to go about equipping the saints for the work of the ministry, have we gone off and created a whole bunch of additional and unnecessary so-called "works of the ministry" and systematic processes that we're now trying desperately to maintain, but yet are keeping us from the true work of the ministry?

And if we read on in Eph 4:12, what is the purpose and what is the desired result of the "work of the ministry" anyway? Is it really to "expand the kingdom?" Is it to "grow" our church? Is it really to devise ways to become more "seeker sensitive?" Is it really evangelism programs, classes and a bunch of other church activities, etc. I'm not saying any of these things are necessarily inherently "wrong." But have they distracted us from: "coming to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God," "growing so we're no longer tossed to and fro... with every wind of doctrine," speaking the truth in love, that we may grow up in all things into Him who is the head?" Have all these seemingly good "church activities" really been a matter of trying to get people to do their true part in the body of Christ, or has it distracted us from being the individual parts of the Body that we truly are? The desired result is not church activity! The desired end result is the edification of the church.

It seems to me that we have turned the means into an end, and the so-called end result ("church service") is really distracting us from Christ.

No wonder we're not so thrilled to share this "good news!"

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