A few days ago I received an email from a friend of mine. He was sharing with me his frustration over the apparent blindness that many Christians seem to have when it comes to following Jesus.
His experience was that every time he attempted to talk about doing what Jesus commanded us to do – like loving our enemies, turning the other cheek, caring for the poor, etc. – the responses he kept receiving were comments like, “But the Founding Fathers say…”, or “The Constitution says..”, or “Common sense tells you…”, and so on.
This isn’t something new to me. I’ve had – and continue to have – similar conversations with Christians on almost a daily basis.
So, what’s going on here? Why is this such an ongoing problem in the American Church today? What can we do about it?
I have a few ideas.
What’s going on?
Most Christians simply do not understand the Gospel, plain and simple. I know this because – only about 10 years ago – I was also unaware of what the actual Gospel was all about. Keep in mind, I was also a licensed and ordained Southern Baptist pastor at that time.
See, I used to believe that the Gospel was about saying a prayer so that I could go to heaven when I die.
But that’s not the Gospel.
The Gospel – or the “Good News” – that Jesus came and died to proclaim is found (curiously enough) in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
Here’s what the “Good News” (or the Gospel) is according to the NT:
“Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom..” (Mat. 4:23)
“Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” (Mar. 1:14-15)
“But he said, “I must proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because that is why I was sent.” (Luk. 4:43)
Wait a minute, what does this have to do with why Christians confuse America with the Kingdom of God?