What Is The Point?

whatsthepoint

In an age where 21st Century American culture tends biasedly to worship the dollar of success and to pity the poor and the dependant. Unfortunately, what we see today is that church culture in many areas is much of the same thing. Glorification of success and disgust for the needy person. Yet the scriptures are clear that God is the defender of the poor and the needy (Luke 6:20-12) (Luke 4:16-21) (Isaiah 41:17) (James 2:5). We specifically see this in the “prosperity gospel”. A theology that takes the entire point of the Gospel message and changes the heart of God from being “to reconcile mankind to Himself” into “to reward faith with prosperity.”
Fortunately though, more of the church is seeing this error for what it is. To make the Gospel less about God’s glory and more about your prosperity. However, legalism in the church can form in almost any way without a heart of compassion and grace. Legalism is any list of rules that we set for ourselves and those under us that we deem as the best way to find God.
We must be very careful to back up our claims with God’s great love for the needy. We must also remember that legalism is not just a condemning set of rules. It is a state of the human heart. As a follower of Christ I am not any less guilty of possessing a human heart with deceitful desires. My heart’s desires tend to want to replace the heart of the Gospel of Grace and reshape it into a much more practical and popular method. When speaking to individuals who are curious about my faith and about what it means to follow Jesus, I tend to catch my first impulses desiring to water down the message into something that will be more “acceptable” to them before my first words even come out. In other words my nature would much rather please men than please God. This in itself is at the heart of legalism.
As Jefferson Bethke put it in his poem “Jesus>Religion”, “The problem with religion is that it never gets to the core, it’s just a behavior modification like a long list of chores.”
As humans we tend to rather please people because in doing so we make our own lives comfortable. The more the popularity you can gain, attention you can earn, and respect that you can draw you are more likely to feel comfortable without grace for other’s sin, mercy for those without hope, and compassion for those with disorders, problems, debt, holes, or self-worth issues. In short, pride is at the heart of legalism.
We usually don’t realize that by watering down or buttering up the Gospel message, we are actually “complicating” a person’s chance of ever understanding the meaning of salvation and atonement rather than making it “easier.” We end up leaving a list of rules to be followed in order to find God that are a lot more complicated than “Love the Lord your God with all your heart…” and “Love your neighbor as yourself…” (Matthew 22:36-40) (Luke 10:27) (Mark 12:30-31). The thought that I could be doing this by not being careful to represent the Lord who called me with my presentation of the Gospel is, honestly, frightening. We must remember that the Gospel is God’s and not ours. It is God’s faithfulness that delivers us and not ours. It is Christ’s grace, mercy, compassion, and love that make the Gospel the greatest news in all of the universe and not ours. In short, the key to both understanding and representing the Gospel is to remember that it begins and ends with Him and not us.
To those in Christ, we were once sheep who had gone astray (Isaiah 56:3). Christ is the Good Shepherd and it was He who sought us and replaced our destination point from one point A to point B. Out of all of the animals the Bible compares us most with sheep, an animal that has absolutely no self-defence capabilities and is the most prone to be torn to shreds and devoured by wolves, lions, and other common carnivores. A sheep’s greatest capability is it’s will. It only has the ability to choose a direction and be mastered by everything that the path holds. There is not much else to it. As mortal men we are the same way. We often start out on a path with the goals that we deem “most important” and become ruled and enslaved by those goals. (I must have a better house, a better car, a better job, a better yard, etc.)
The key to knowing God is to depend on Christ’s finished work. Likewise, the key to loving others and sharing the Gospel is also by depennding on Christ’s finished work.
Jesus Christ is the one way to God. All other gods in this world are tormentors. They have some set of rules on a road that promises to lead up to some bribe. They increase all kinds of debt, addiction, guilt, and failure in their followers and then smite them for it. They base your walk on your earned status to their status. They sell big and never follow through. They enslave you. They separate you from the true God. And they kill you.
False gods require you to find your own way up to them. Jesus Christ comes down and pursues you when you are lost, finds you, and brings you up to Him. Ultimately, the Gospel is not about us setting some set of religious rules, but it is about reconciliation between God and man through Christ.
The Gospel shows us that Christ redeems us from our sin. This includes bondages and false gods such as legalism, pride, greed, and self lust. In place of ourselves, He gives us Himself. We find love, humility, worth, and grace. This makes for a living and vibrant Gospel in a world full of pain, blindness, and bondage. All because it is the Gospel of the Living God. It is His plan to save men that actually saves men. It is His blood that was poored out by His choice that actually cleanses us. And it is His adoption of us that gives us eternal life.
We must now remember that very little of this depends on us. The realization of this is the crashing of walls and the release from heavy burdens. The only free will that depends on us is the desire to say “Yes,” and “No.” We are sheep always in need of our shepherd.
The Gospel is for us. But it is not started by us and nor does it end by us.
The Gospel is about God. And in bearing Christ’s image and not our own, we have the hope and promise of hearing the precious words “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”

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3 thoughts on “What Is The Point?

  1. What a well authored blog. I find in it…. The sincerity of a thousand men. Extracting the selfishness we are hard wired with and presenting a bird’s eye view of the gospel. We are not to accommodate or justify our personal spins we tend to put on the gospel. Our hearts are
    desperately wicked saith the Lord. I find the pinpoint accuracy of your interpretation of society’s nature striking. A man with a quest the Lord set him on. First, remembering the Lord’s heart and setting his aside. Giving the Lord the glory and remembering we are mere men. Very great job bro. Will be looking forward to hearing more.

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