Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Jim's Gospel

Things in Christendom are coming undone. 

The fundies are waging war (or should that be raging war) against anything that defiles literalistic dogma. Doctrines, denominations, cults abound in ever greater numbers. People are discovering we have been ripped off by centuries of misinterpretations, political/religious manipulation, power struggles, incorrect translations, you name it. And the temptation to hang on to traditional christian thought is like grabbing at the rope as the anchor slips over the side - you'll get rope burns, or dragged overboard with the anchor.

Sifting through the morass of what's left of Christianity is daunting. Those who have taken the time to attempt to understand some of the issues are often tempted to only go so far, for fear of losing faith completely. Many threads of thought will lead to slippery slopes that by their very nature will fly in the face of the mainstream church.

Many people are being "zapped" with new understanding of how awesome God really is and how we so completely misunderstood his nature and plans for humans. Great stirrings through every stream and denomination. More divisions, arguments. A huge slow rumble that will erupt in the greatest earthquake the church has seen - not some "revival" of holiness, healing and bible bashing, but a change in the very core of Christianity.

So, what about my gospel? Glad you asked!

We all have a basic idea of what the gospel is, don't we! I mean, you ask anyone, even non-christians (well, in the western world at least), and they will probably be able to spout something. Good christians will have a good biblical answer, and you can get a range of brochures that will outline it for you in simple to follow instructions so you can "get saved" by applying the aforementioned gospel.

But in reality the gospel is getting a bit cloudy. At the very least there is Jesus' gospel and Paul's gospel, and heaps of arguments about that! And lots of discussions about what being saved really is, and being born again, and eternity, and God's perfect will, and free will, and well, just about everything that colours how you interpret the gospel - to yourself, let alone others.

So I began to realise that no matter what we think or claim about it all, our deep understanding of what God has done to make everything right for us all is uniquely personal. Most of us will parrot what we think the bible says or what our favorite teacher says, but our hearts have their own understanding. Our hearts intrinsically know what the gospel SHOULD be. Yes it can be twisted and mutilated and wrapped in conditions, fears, but deep down we know that if God really was as good as we hoped for, the gospel would be the most freeing wonderful thing the world could ever imagine. God would be all that our hearts could ever desire - perfect unconditional love and acceptance!

I began to strip away everything except the most basic thing that a child can understand without scripture - yes, that's right, especially without scripture!

Its Gospel 101! Ready?

God is Love - He loves me!

What about Jesus? He was God demonstrating His intrinsic involvement in humanity and solving the problem of "sin" - all sin for all time, for all people, whether they know it or not. To know that God is Love and we are loved by Him, IS to accept what Jesus has done anyway. We don't have to "know" about him, he sorted all that before he even made us, he confirmed it by his physical appearance to those that a physical appearance would be most significant to (the Jews), and then confirmed the whole thing by opening our eyes to our unity with him.

Theology is fun! Gives me hours of thought provoking entertainment and lively discussion. Our minds are made to explore the deeper meanings of life the universe and everything. BUT, when it comes to life and death, I'm starting to hold those ideas lightly now - it matters less everyday. I only care about it if the fruit of someone's ideas is bad. And we all know bad fruit, and we all know good fruit.

So YOUR gospel can really look like anything! It can be Jesus' gospel or Paul's gospel but mostly it's your gospel, the one that Holy Spirit speaks to your heart - the one that says "God is love and He loves me!" And we live from that place - we live loved!

Its so easy and yet so hard. Its expansive in its freedom but the narrowest road we could walk. Jesus is the centre of everything, whether we recognise it now or later. We "preach" the kingdom of God here and now in all of us, and that kingdom is the best thing unknown to mankind!

LIVE LOVED (and only use words if necessary)