Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Good Listening

I think that the mark of a great teacher of the Word is the ability to teach the whole Gospel in every sermon. Someone who can take any passage of Scripture, and show how it points to our fallen condition, our need for redemption, God's love & Christ's life, his death, his resurrection, and our call to accept his grace and extend it to others. Matt Chandler is one of those people. I had a chance to visit The Village Church last weekend and it was great.

I think the downfall of many churches is that they emphasize one aspect of the Gospel over the others. They make some part of the redemption story the "focus" or "key" or "emphasis" of the Gospel. These things range from advocacy to repentance, from acceptance of everyone to rejection of sin. All of these things are Biblical, but none of them are the focus of the Gospel. Paul tells us what the focus of the Gospel is:

"For I resolved to know nothing (to be acquainted with nothing, to make a display of the knowledge of nothing, and to be conscious of nothing) among you except Jesus Christ (the Messiah) and Him crucified. (I Cor. 2:2)

I used the Amplified Version intentionally here. Paul resolved to know Christ and his crucifixion alone. That is the focus of the Gospel. It's the main thing. More than being the main thing, it's the one thing. Of course it is. Jesus is our Savior and our salvation. He is God, in the flesh. How can we get so fixated on side issues that we ignore Him?

In his book God in the Flesh, Don Everts talks about how surprised he was the first time he heard a sermon in a Christian church that didn't mention Jesus. The he went on to say that it ended up being so common that he was no longer surprised by it. Paul could barely write a paragraph without mentioning him...how did we get so far off base?

I have my suspicions, but most of them come down to this fact: we've detached ourselves from the miracle and the majesty of Jesus, who is God. We've emphasized the teachings over the God-Man. There is a lot that goes into the life of a follower of Christ, but it doesn't start with an appreciation for his teachings, or a love for each other, or a desire for community. It starts with the realization that Jesus is God, and that when we needed him, he came to earth to show the way that he would suffer incredible pain to create for us. The realization that without him we are lost, and that we have done and can do nothing to deserve the gift that he is giving. And the understanding that our responsibility is to glorify God and show others the gift that is extended.

What do you think?


At 7:32 PM, Anonymous Brittany said...

You know, for some time now, perhaps a little over a year, I've been noticing this very thing over and over again. We super overcomplicate Christianity, in my opinion. It's so simple: Christ!
I have theories on some of this overcomplication, which I wrote about but never published. I think I will now.


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