11 April 2010

Clearing Space for the Gospel: Part 1

The gospel needs room, room to breathe. We don’t realize it sometimes but we can gradually suffocate the gospel’s power in our lives and in our church communities. It happens ever so slowly. The centrality of what Jesus Christ did, began, said and accomplished can be scootched to the perimeter of our spiritual life without us being aware of it. In my assessment I don’t think we intentionally take something that is at the center of our lives and move it aggressively to the back corner of our lives. In most cases something else subtly begins to take center stage and whatever was there before finds that it doesn’t have space anymore and so vacates the center. In the next few blogs I want to briefly converse about 3 different agendas (politics, moralism and pragmatism) that end up crowding out the power and life of the Gospel in a church or in an individual life.

For this post let’s look at political agendas.
There is an interesting back story to Judas the betrayer. Judas was a rich man and an active member of the Zealot Political Party of the Jews. This political party was advocating for the forceful removal of the Romans out of Israel. This Zealot Party believed that when the trumpet sounded and the Messiah returned to reclaim His thrown He would over throw Rome in an epic battle. Zealot’s where known for carrying their sword with them at all times to be ready for the Jewish take back that the Messiah would begin. So here is Judas following Jesus around for three years, listening to His every teaching about the coming kingdom. What Judas and the majority of the disciples where hoping and expecting Jesus to do, was over throw the Roman Empire for the glory of God and the reinstallment of the Chosen People to their rightful place. Judas wasn’t only expecting and preparing for this, his theology was fused with his political fire. Hence the problem when Jesus refused to be a political leader. Jesus gradually aired out His agenda to inaugurate and establish a different type of kingdom that was supernatural. Judas was let down. He felt tricked and then we know how the rest of the story goes.

This is a perfect example of a political agenda crowding out the real gospel. Let me get practical and pointed about the application. I know and meet many believers who are wrapped up in the current political environment. They see that every twist, every news flash, every law passed or not passed somehow has grave implications for Christianity in America. Be careful. Jesus agenda is not our earthly agenda. His approach, strategy and kingdom way is not glued nor tied to the political landscape. When we look at Jesus tactic of bringing about his beautiful and glorious kingdom it’s quite backwards. Instead of a power-over move, what I mean by that is; instead of getting a position or leverage that comes with authority or gaining a louder voice in the culture, Jesus went the route of power-under; sacrifice, humility, and fierce servant love (Phil 2:1-11). That is a completely different politic. Kingdoms of the world seek to acquire and exercise power-over others, whereas Jesus incarnated and demonstrated a kingdom that advances by exercising power-under people.

Let me reign in my A.D.D. and get back to the original point about the gospel slowly being crowded out. When we become ravenous, amped up and are searching for any political breakthrough we may not realize it but the true, undiluted Gospel of Jesus Christ gets less attention, thought, treasuring and in turn, less of a role in our life. Whenever we get too close to any political or national ideology, it is disastrous for the church and for the clarity of what God is all about. The Gospel becomes no longer central. You see the Gospel needs room to breathe, no competition in its sole position in our hearts, lives and churches. It requires us to clear out space.

For deeper reading on this check > "The Jesus Driven Life" by Michael Hardin & "Myth of a Christian Nation" by Gregory Boyd

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