Not a new Gospel but the same old one

Posted: February 26, 2011 in Evangelism, Life, Me and God, Me and people, The Bible, The Church

This week I had the opportunity to attend a church planters conference and it served in my mind as the conclusion of months and years of consideration on a variety of subjects. I wanted to share today one of those conclusions:

“What would Jesus do?” Very famous cliché phrase that has made it onto bumper stickers, t-shirts, songs, movies, bracelets and even cereal boxes –well, probably not cereal boxes… or maybe. Anyway, WWJD has become in a way a symbol and picture, for Christians and non-Christians, of what Christianity is: Do what Jesus would….. But, is this really Christianity?

Is being a Christian that much about ‘doing’? Ask anyone on the street and they may likely answer that Christianity is a religion about doing good things and ‘acting’ like Jesus and being good to the poor and needy and praying and going to church…and so on; Again, Christianity has been defined in people’s minds as WWJD. Even often when you go to church, you walk out with “the 3 points” or “5 steps to…” However, I wonder if that’s what we as the church are supposed to be all about.

Paul, writing to the Galatians said that he was astonished to see how quickly they had “turned away” (and to another gospel) from “Him” who called them in the “Grace of God”. They had turned away to another gospel, a gospel of works, a gospel of the flesh, a gospel that says do this and you will be right with God, a “religion” in the sense of being a system that helps you to get to God, to deserve God, to be worthy of talking to God.

What if we managed to change that perspective of God in our society?
What if non-believers knew and understood that Christianity is not, at the core, about what we wear or our bumper stickers or what radio station we listen to or how much we give.
What if we managed somehow to strip out all the “religious” traditions of our Christian systems and leave only those basic core ‘major’ principles and commandments that Jesus and The Bible give us?
What if we made it a point that in every conversation, sermon, song and activity we do –in and out of the church building, the center message is not “do this” but “He did”; The Gospel of Christ.
What if the people saw in us not people who do a lot (hopefully) to be better, but people who are better (because of Jesus’ Grace) and therefore do a lot.

What if everyone understood the Gospel of Christ as one in which no one does anything to reach to God but God did it all to reach down to us to love us, forgive us, clean us and restore us and, because we understand where we come from, what we’ve been saved from, and where we are now going to, we want to give it all to Him.

I’ve noticed for the last few years a few ‘common themes’ among the local churches that are being effective and successful in attracting the lost and the un-churched, explaining the Gospel of Grace and making of them growing and fruitful disciples of Christ. These local churches are being ‘intentional’ about striping down “religious traditions” and “man-centered” interpretations, structures and activities, making their environments attractive and welcoming to them –the un-churched. They are also concentrating more on bringing the message to the world rather than “their particular church system”. Finally, they are doing it more and more about the Gospel and Jesus and less about this person or that pastor or this other denomination.

Perhaps the same type of strategy changes would be useful in the personal level; making changes in my life to make it more open and welcoming to the un-churched, concentrating on sharing with the people around me, not “religious traditions” but the simple yet powerful Gospel of Grace. Making sure I don’t do things for the sake of my score-card with God or personal reputation but about God being pleased. Praying for God to move with power even if the prayer is answered, not through me, but through a different person, church or denomination.

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