Monday, August 9, 2010

What is the Gospel?

I always hesitate to recommend a book that I have read or am currently reading.  I have a variety of different reasons for this.  Others may not like what I read.  Or someone may get an incorrect perception of who I am or what I believe because of something I'm reading.  But I'll shoot this out here.  I can and do read almost any type of book.  I can read after anyone and take the parts that I like and leave the parts that I don't.  Eat the corn and throw away the cob, so to speak.

All of that rambled mess to say this.  I'm currently reading "What is the Gospel?" by Greg Gilbert.  It's one part of the 9Marks series.  I'm about half way through it and I love it.  It was a free digital download at Amazon.  And Chad received it as part of his loot when he went to T4G back in April.  I rarely, if ever, venture into his world of preacher books because I'm afraid they will be over my head.  And a lot of times they are.  But I decided to give this one a try(possibly, probably because it was free).

The basic theme of the book is that we as Christians(myself included) often get the message of the Gospel wrong.  We always portray God as a god of love, and He is, but never as a god of justice and wrath, which He is.  I know this is getting lengthy but the following is an excerpt from the beginning of Chapter 2.

"Let me introduce you to god.  (Note the lowercase G.)

You might want to lower your voice a little before we go in.  He might be sleeping now.  He's old, you know, and doesn't much understand or like this "newfangled" modern world.  His golden days-the ones he talks about when you really get him going-were a long time ago, before most of us were even born.  That was back when people cared what he thought about things, and considered him pretty important to their lives.

Of course all that's changed now, though, and god-poor fellow-just never adjusted very well.  Life's moved on and passed him by.  Now, he spends most of his time just hanging in the garden out back.  I go there sometimes to see him, and there we tarry, walking and talking softly and tenderly among the roses....

Anyway, a lot pf people still like him, it seems-or at least he manages to keep his poll numbers prteey high.  And you'd be surprised how many people even drop by to visit and ask for things every once in a while.  But of course that's alright with him.  He's here to help.

Thank goodness, all the crankiness you read about sometimes in his old books-you know, having the earth swallow people up, raining fire down on cities, that sort of thing-all that seems to have faded in his old age.  How he's just a good-natured, low-maintenance friend who'll really easy to talk to-especially since he almost never talks back, and when he does, it's usually to tell me through some slightly weird "sign" that what I want to do regardless is alright by him.  That really is the best kind of friend,  isn't it?

You know the best thing about him, though?  He doesn't judge me.  Ever, for anything.  Oh sure, I know that deep down he wishes I'd be better-more loving, less selfish, and all that-but he's realistic.  He knows I'm human and nobody's perfect.  And I'm totally sure he's fine with that.  Besides, forgiving people is his job.  It's what he does.  After all, he's love, right?  and I like to think of love as "never judging, only forgiving." That's the god I know.  And I wouldn't have him any other way.

Alright, hold on a second....Okay, we can go in now.  And don't worry, we don't have to stay long.  Really.  He's grateful for any time he can get."

That might seem far fetched when you read it.  But I'm afraid that it's really not that far out of perspective anymore.  While this is comical in some respects, it's also heartbreaking.  Chad and I have had this conversation so many times that I don't have enough fingers to count that high.  And I have had to repent(many times) of my incorrect perspective of God.   In our part of the world(Bible Belt), almost everyone, when you ask them, will tell you they know who God is.  But, I'm afraid that a lot of us(myself included) have it wrong.  And again I have to repent.

I'm interested to see how this book finishes up.  I'll probably finish it today while I'm at the gym.

"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten son, that whosoever believeth on Him, should not perish but have everlasting life.  For God sent not His son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.  He that believeth on him is not condemned;  but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God."
John 3:16-18