In America more and more people are seeing the Gospel message as negative. I’ve heard a thousands reasons why, but I think it comes down to how the Gospel is being portrayed. It’s on us, it’s on the church.
At some point we’ve shifted the message of the Gospel to a series of vague eternal threats of damnation.
All throughout the Gospel we are told over and over that this is Good News. From the very first announcement of Jesus we are told that this was a good thing; the best thing. But somewhere along the way we’ve lost the “good” part and just tell people the news. We threaten them with what we think will happen when they die. We love to take a seat on God’s throne and judge people, but rarely do we want to tell them (god forbid show them) the love that’s found for everyone in the Gospel.
Whenever I say something like this I get the response… Well we’ve got to tell the truth too. Which typically is just an excuse to not try and understand that person’s story, to keep them aside. But if the Bible really is true, and I believe it is, we need to be bringing good news. And we need to live it that way. Jesus could have told everyone Hey! You know what, if you don’t follow me you’re going to burn in hell… But he didn’t do that…
In fact he focused very little of his time on warning of eternal hell. Rather he focused on the literal hells that people were currently experiencing and living. At the center of Jesus’ message was good news.
If you are following Jesus you are carrying the best news possible. Your words AND actions should reflect that. The way you talk to people, about people, and treat people should show the Gospel. And what’s that message? That everyone is invited to the party. Even the people that we as a society say are out, Jesus says no, they are in.
Love, Don’t Threaten
Jesus never threatened anyone. The one person that was righteous and had every right to condemn the wrongdoings he saw didn’t. Rather he had grace and compassion. That’s not to say that he never spoke of judgement or showed anger. But he didn’t lead off with it. And more often than not when judgment did come up it was directed at the religious who were condemning people they were supposed to love.
The approach we need to take both with our words and our actions is not judgement but grace. Especially with those that are different than us. Lead with grace, lead with love.
I think we are starting to see the long term effect of the turn or burn movement, as I like to call it. And it’s a total rejection of the Gospel, or at least a rejection of the Gospel they were presented. You can get someone to temporarily change via a threat, but long term change rarely takes hold. Threats don’t bread change. They bread short-term fear. And that’s the what the Gospel is about.
The church needs to love those that are different than them, not threaten them. It should concern us that the people that wanted to be around Jesus the most were the ones that the religious avoided. People that are nothing like us should want to be around us. Why? Because the love that we show them.
That’s the message of the Gospel. That we are more loved then we have dared dream, even though we are more sinful that we could have realize. That’s not a threat, that’s good news.
Focus on the Injustice People Face Now
Christians have flipped Jesus’ approach. We focus on warning people that if they don’t repent then they will go to hell. But we spend little time on helping people out of the literal hell they are currently living in. We’ve taken the good news and turned it into a warning; you better believe what I do or else… Rather than offering grace and showing our love and care for people in their current circumstances.
Jesus met with many people that were outcasts that the religious leaders refused to associate with. Rather than ignore them, Jesus went to them. He listened to their stories, had compassion on them, and showed them grace.
It saddens me that the church is largely known for standing against many social justice issues. It saddens me even more when the church outright refuses to even associate with people behind the issues. How can we justify throwing someone standing for justice under the bus because we don’t like their issue? When did we become so sure of ourselves that our views are right and everyone else is wrong?
When there’s a people group saying Hey! We’re feeling opposed how ignorant is it for Christians to respond. Yeah… You’re not.
You cannot ignore what is important to someone and the issues they are passionate about and expect them to continue listening to your message. We’ve got to refocus our message and our priorities. And learn to understand where people are coming from. We’ve got to stand for the injustice, not being done to us, but what’s being done to others.
We have people in our society that are crying out for help. And the church should be the first people to come to their rescue.
It’s time the church starts living and talking about the GOOD news again. Let’s take our cues from Jesus and how he interacted with those around him.
Why do you think the Church doesn’t focus on the good news anymore? Have you experienced this?