On my walk home from work the other day, I found myself thinking about the last few messages our pastor has shared on Romans. Rather than his Romans messages being the typical angry-at-homosexuals-everyone-gets-to-Christ-on-the-Roman-road sort of thing, his messages have been profoundly challenging and refreshing. He has been speaking about the part of the gospel that seems to have dissipated over time–the part of the gospel that is about present transformation.
I began to think about the kind of relationship people have with Christ when they are told to ask him into their heart so they can someday go to heaven. My mind immediately began to imagine what that would look like in any other kind of relationship, and I found myself imaging a whorish sort of woman who simply is gold digging. She’s totally in it for herself–so someday she can kick up her heels, live in a mansion with eternal glory, easy and riches. Isn’t that the shallow gospel that we share with so many? I find myself bothered by the self-absorbed presentation of the gospel that seems to forget about Christ telling us to lay down our lives, to take up our crosses and to follow a virtually impossible ethic of no anger, hate, lust or greed. To reduce the gospel to a ticket into heaven is to reduce Christ to a sugar daddy who is too afraid, ignorant or impersonal to actually expect more from a relationship.
If we are constantly telling people that the good news of Christ is that they can someday go to heaven, we are sharing part of the story; however, I believe there is an incredible danger in partial truth. There’s a danger of people believing in themselves more than Christ. There’s a danger of people feeling totally detached from this world and the tragedies and struggles in it. There’s a danger of people become entirely judgmental. There’s a danger of Christians becoming only involved with themselves and those like themselves. There’s a danger of ignorance. And there’s the worst possible sort of danger–the danger of distance and shallowness in a relationship. When you’re in a relationship only for the reward, it’s awfully difficult to be authentic and transformed.
It seems that the good news of Christ is that He is so incredible that He chooses to use His people to begin His reign today. In this moment. In you. That means through you, He desires to show His compassion, love, justice, mercy, hospitality, generocity, goodness, grace by replacing your nature with His. The good news is that there is an opportunity for people to have a relationship with Someone entirely perfect, and we are invited into losing ourselves entirely in His arms so that we may become more like Him. We will spend eternity with Him, but what would the world be if they began to see Him now through us?