After 9-10 centuries of making the Christian faith complex, intellectually arrogant, and difficult to understand, God seems to be simplifying things once again. Just like the simplification going on in the business world right now, God’s simplification procedure is neither fun nor bloodless; there is a high cost to it. But God’s purposes accomplished by these harrowing crises are the hope of the world.
So what is God up to right now? I wish I knew. But I can see small glimpses of something new being born; through the rest of the year, I will take this space to share what little I can see.
The first thing I see is that the Lord is pushing us to see the Gospel, not our gospel. In Christendom, the Church sold its soul to become a cultural mascot of the various tribes who were willing to force on all their members a superficial obedience to the Lord’s commandments. The Church became “branded” by tribe, by theological nuance, and then within the competitive environment of American capitalism, became branded by race, class, socio-economic level. All these divisions brought arguments and persecutions based around the false premise that our version was “the real Gospel,” while theirs was a “false Gospel.”
As Paul tried to make clear to the Galations, this thinking is false and destructive. There is only one Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ—and everybody has gotten it a little bit wrong. The one Gospel is a radical, unfair and incomprehensible forgiveness on God’s part of anyone who will accept it. This forgiveness is not cheap; it is bought by God with the blood of His only son. There are no preconditions to accepting this forgiveness, this new life—but the transaction is as radical as the gift itself: life for a life. To accept the gift, I must surrender the one thing I truly possess (for a while): my life.
There is no Black Gospel; there is no White Gospel; there is no Presbyterian Gospel, Baptist Gospel, or Methodist Gospel. There is one Message, shared and seen from different angles by different people. But if the Church is to emerge with its Spirit-led missionary voice in this culture, we must all come to see we preach one Gospel.