Friday, April 05, 2013

Most Americans Have Never Heard the Gospel

Sandwich boards commanding repentance. Street preachers shouting hellfire. Political slogans condemning gay marriage and abortion. Trite, pithy bumper stickers and church signs with lame puns.

We've presented many versions of the good news to the culture.

The problem is that none of them sound all that good

You might say the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing. I agree, but just because someone is starving doesn't mean you can only give him stale bread, even if he denies he's hungry. 

I will admit that I have become hardened to Americans, especially after sharing the Jesus story with foreigners. They often have no context, no built-in prejudices against it. They've never had a televangelist after their pocketbook or a protester calling down the sulphur of Sodom on their loved ones. A refreshing openness allows them to at least entertain a new idea, even if it's just so they can practice English. 

Americans, on the other hand, are jaded to Jesus. But on the rare occasions when I let God tenderize my stubborn heart, I realize this is because most of them have never really heard the gospel either, or at least a version worth hearing.  

Sure, they know that a babe was wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger. They know that Jesus most likely had a beard and blonde hair glistening with a halo. They know that he had cool sandals and roamed around the countryside like a pre-incarnation of Gandhi, telling people to do no harm. 

Of course this is a caricature, but there's a reason it's there. Those who are supposed to be Jesus' friends have reduced the feast of his mission to a sack of greasy burgers.

In rare moments of clarity, I have been able to provide trusting friends and curious acquaintances with a tiny glimpse of the real Jesus, the glorious, powerful Jesus that the Bible portrays.

I've been able to show that he offers more than behavior modification. He completely transforms the heart, molding it in love so that its actions inevitably change. He doesn't preach empty acceptance. He stands like a levee, solid against the flood of God's wrath, turning us from his enemies into his beloved children. And most importantly, he comes not to judge as his followers so often do, but to save from a judgment already pronounced. As a result, we can have eternal life - not a future sitting around on clouds with harps - but the promise that we can touch forever now through faith in the one who bridged the temporal and everlasting.

Much of this must sound like mumbo-jumbo. It always does, even as it's coming out of my mouth.

But as a sommelier once told me, you just have to like how the wine tastes and be able to describe it to yourself. Then you can remember it, even if you can't articulate its subtlest notes.

So let me hand you the glass, offering a few tasting notes.

The world is broken. Look at Syria and the Congo. Look at the selfishness in your relationships.

Jesus is God's way of fixing it. He starts in you, then works through you. We are changed so that we can change the world. If that's not good news, I don't know what is.


A. Taylor Rollo... said...

Make them think the gospel is too good to be true, then show them that it is true. And, yes, we rarely (if ever) get that from the bumper stickers, church signs, TV preachers, protesters, etc.

Joseph Davis said...

A new blog post!

Thanks Trev...

ledgesinme said...

Good stuff, young Jedi!