Monday, June 17, 2013

Heaven Help Us.....

How did this happen?

How we ever got from the presentation of the Good News in, say, the Gospel of Matthew to our current ‘my-predicament-centered, give-mental-assent-to-the-atonement-plan’ way of thinking about what it means to become a Christian is a long, sad story, but it’s a serious and crucially significant difference.

In Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus is presented as the messianic King, the Lord who saves, and it is obvious that the right and required response to Him and His message is one of repentance/faith -- unconditional though imperfect confidence/trust/allegiance – consider the case of the rich young ruler (Matt. 19:16ff). In this scenario, a right response to the Message of Jesus means a person begins to be a believing follower of Jesus as Teacher/Master/Savior, recognizing and rightly responding to his authority in every area of life, and seeing all of life, from now on, in terms of serving him and his purposes.

What a contrast to so much ‘evangelism’ today which is almost entirely focused on taking care of my problem of being headed to Hell, so as to get me the assurance that I’ll go to Heaven instead, by ‘praying a prayer.’ No wonder so many professing Christians, populating evangelical churches today, are stalled out and stagnant, constantly wanting their ‘christianity’ on their own terms in every sphere, manifested in carelessness in regard to a grace-based pursuit of holiness (Titus 2:11-15), cluelessness when it comes to contemporary forms of worldliness, self-centeredness that is uninterested in deferring to others in matters like music preferences, indifference to baptism and membership, volatility when it comes to serving (“volunteering”), vulnerability to every kind of mis-belief and faddish trend, disinterest in authentic evangelism and mission, etc.

At the same time, individual ‘believers’ continue to live profoundly self-centered (in-the-‘flesh’) lives and wonder why their ‘christianity’ is powerless, life-less, joy-less and uninteresting. All this leave us discontent, bitter and feeling perpetually entitled to better from God, the church, family, friends, etc. Such is life in Laodicea (Rev. 3:14-20).

Jesus’ actual message was, and is, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven [the return of the reign of God] is near.” (Matt. 4:17) May God have mercy on us and bring us back to the Biblical Good News, and to an authentic understanding of what a genuinely saving response to that Good News really means – a faith that works, and a repentance that actually turns from idols and self-centered sinning to the glad and willing service of the living and true God (1 Thess. 1:3, 9-10), obeying everything that Jesus, our new Master, commands (Matt. 28:18-20).

This is not some extreme or exotic form of Christianity. This IS (authentic, Biblical, Spirit-empowered) Christianity.

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