Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Gospel is Better than That

In Today's Christian world, we are witnessing a great divide between a conservative/fundamentalist mindset and a liberal post-modern mindset. The conservative fundamentalists accuse the liberal post-moderns of being soft and compromising to be more appealing, while the liberal post-moderns critique the conservative fundamentalists for being too narrow-minded and judgmental.

There isn't simply a mid-point between the two, because the issue isn't just that these two sides disagree. The issue is that they're both focusing on the wrong thing. They're both selfish in strictly critiquing the other side all the time, while staying in their own comfortable caves.

Let me explain by using a biblical example.

Jesus drove the Pharisees crazy because he dined with tax collectors, prostitutes, and other outcasts. I believe this is similar to conservative fundamentalists who get angry at people who are more accepting of homosexuals and are more liberal in their theology and political views.

This may sound like I am advocating for the liberal post-modern side, but I'm not done.

Rob Bell recently stated that Christianity can no longer afford to stand against homosexuals and so Christians, as Christ dined with outcast sinners, should adapt and open up our arms to the homosexual community. While I agree with this to an extent, I believe Bell goes too far. He ignores the sinful nature of homosexuality (see my thoughts on this here) and thinks we should all likewise move passed it.

I think both of these approaches miss something crucial to the Christian message.

The conservative fundamentalist approach too often stands against people. Whether they're homosexuals or democrats, conservative fundamentalist Christians adamantly stand against them and try to impose their values and principles on the whole country so they can "re-"established a Christian nation from the top-down. They completely miss the fact that Jesus stood with sinners and worked to transform the world from the inside out with his love, not with legislature. Rather than standing against homosexuals in the gay marriage debate, Christ would be dining with them. But they live in a cave in which the Jesus they serve fights for Christianity in politics and seeks to make the government more "Christian" and less liberal.

On the other end, the liberal post-modern movement adapts too much. The Jesus they serve adapts to their cave, in which homosexuality is okay, abortion is okay, I'm okay, you're okay, let's just help the poor and do what our hearts tell us to do. Let's be true to ourselves and do whatever makes us happy. Jesus hung out with sinners, so let's just hang out together, fight injustice with love, and help the helpless.

The Gospel is better than both of these approaches.
Jesus didn't come to judge.
Jesus didn't come to establish a Christian nation.
Jesus also didn't come to piss off the Pharisees and the conservative fundamentalists by hanging out with sinners.
Furthermore, Jesus didn't come just to hang out with sinners.
Jesus came not to judge the world but to save the world (Jn. 3:17; 12:47).

In the parable of the prodigal son, sinners are represented in the younger son, and those that are self-righteous and judgmental are represented in the elder son.
Jesus wants to save both.
He wants to bring both of them out of their caves and transform their lives.
He hung out with the tax collectors, prostitutes, and outcasts so he could save them from their caves!
He answered all the Pharisees' questions so that he could save them from their caves!

Jesus wants to take you out of your cave and transform your world!
The question is: do you want it?
Do you actually want freedom?
Or do you want your comfortable cave?
Do you want the real transforming, freeing Jesus?
Or do you want the Jesus that will adapt, fit into, and support your cave?

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