Tuesday, February 25

Is the Gospel Really Good News?
Most American evangelicals don't know the Gospel. I am certain this is true because the Gospel story most of them tell me, (when I ask them), is not good news. It is the same nasty old Bad News repackaged and relabeled. And what is that bad news? God demands perfection - and you ain't near perfect, sucker.

Oh, sure - they can throw around phrases like "saved by faith" and "redeemed by the blood" like they know what it means, but the way they act, it sure isn't the mind-blowingly Good News that the Gospel is supposed to be.

So what is the Gospel? Just this:

Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners!

Of course, most evangelicals would agree, but I can tell they don't really believe it. Or maybe it would be more accurate to say that they believe they no longer qualify for it.

Most evangelicals apparently think something subjective happened to them at the moment of their conversion, (whatever that may happen to be), and - presto-changeo! - they suddenly ceased to be sinners. They are now - what? Something special that shouldn't sin any more and is in big trouble when they do, right? I can list all the adjectives and the nouns that evangelicals use to describe this special mystical state of those who stand on the "saved" side of that divine Line in the Sand. But - dang - they sure look like, act like, talk like, think like and smell like your typical garden-variety sinner, don't they?

Lemme ask a question? Don't you just totally groove to those dramatic conversion stories? You know the kind - Joe Bad-Ass has spent his whole life kicking sand in the face of 98-pound weaklings, biting the heads off live bats and listening to head-banger-hip-hop-grunge-gansta-rap-rock. He then gets miraculously converted, and immediately starts a successful, (and highly visible), ministry to skinny beach bums. He dresses like Pat Boone, combs his hair like Benny Hinn, listens to CCM day and night and best of all has a godly and beautiful ex-Hawaiian Tropic bikini model for a wife.

Don't we just love those stories?

And in comparison, don't our own pathetic, puny, pitiful Christian lives make us want to hurl? Our lives are mundane, we struggle with the same stupid actions and attitudes we've fought for years. We still don't like skinny geeks. We still enjoy the taste of a good steak. And we honestly think that CCM sucks.

What kind of Christians are we, anyway?

I'll tell you what kind I am - I'm the kind that Christ Jesus came into the world to save. I'll be honest - I'd really like the heart-stopping conversion story and the million-dollar public ministry. But if I had it, I still kinda doubt that I'd be much different from the miserable stinking wretch I am. I'd just have better packaging. And I might start to believe my own press. I might start to think that I was somebody who had power over the ravages of sin, somebody who had some mystical control that the unwashed masses lacked. I might get really, really depressed about the undeniable fact that, in spite of memorizing a squillion verses and having a quiet time 3218 days in a row, I still occasionally lust after my neighbor's wife. I might get a little weird and stupid trying to explain that my fecal matter doesn't really stink, but I'd never be able to get away from the stark truth that I'm not nearly as well-behaved as I ought to be, not nearly as pure of heart as I should be, and not nearly as righteous as I hope to be.

But if I'm convinced that I ain't no longer a sinner, what hope is left for me?

Naw, I pass - you can have your cheap suit and your ministry to beach geeks and your cheesy music. As for me, I'm a sinner utterly unable to do a thing to save myself. I couldn't do it 35 years ago when I first put my faith in Christ, and I still can't do it. Fortunately, Christ Jesus came into the world to save people just exactly like me.

And that, my friends - that is Very Good News Indeed!

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