Friday, February 24, 2012

Back to the basics

I wanted to share some thoughts this morning on the complicated, convoluted, over thought, exhaustively annotated, and hopelessly expanded version of Christianity that we have today.
It's not.

Let me show you what I mean:

I love research, I love discussion, I enjoy study Bibles and commentaries, and thoroughly enjoy a good debate (a debate - not a fight).  However, none of those things are possible until we have the basics down, and I fear that we are too often times taking new Christians and throwing them from grace 101 straight into hermeneutics (which are wonderful and awesome) and by doing so, casting them into a pit of details that will drown them.

Spiritual gifts, spiritual disciplines, philosophies, and denominational doctrine are irrelevant until/unless you understand the GOSPEL.  Gospel simply means "Good News!"  Taking someone who says they feel the tug of the creator of the universe on their heart and handing them 30 books and papers by Marx and Nietzsche is not the best way to foster a reciprocal love with the Lord Jesus Christ.

Hear this: Tells

Luke 15:11-32
Tells the story of the prodigal (or lost) son.  Where the son is us and the father is God.
There are lots of points and lessons to be gleaned from this text, but what's the real (and basic) principal here - the son demands his inheritance.  He takes said inheritance, heads to Vegas, and blows it all, every last penny of it, on all the things that one might suspect a newly rich young man with no inhibitions to spend his money on in Vegas.  After he's been gone, disgraced his name, disgraced his father's name, blew all of his money (which was not really his money to begin with - it was his father's money), and could not get any lower, he returned home.  How does the story end?  What happens when he gets home?  Before he can even get to the house, his father Runs out to meet him, weeping with joy at the sight of him returning home, throws new clothes on him (his clothes), puts a ring on his finger (his ring), and throws a huge celebratory party (the biggest and best they have).  Who met the son as he came crawling back home?  Daddy.

John 3:16-17
Arguable the most well known, most quickly recited verse (often times to its detriment) in the Bible.
Here's what matters, this is the most basic principle, this is what everyone needs to know:  God sent His Son, His own Son, His only Son, His own "flesh and blood", from glory on high to a gutter below to give the world a chance at salvation.  God sent His Son to die, not so He could then force everyone to worship Him and follow Him, but He allowed His Son to die just for the chance, the possibility of spending eternity with you.

Romans 5:8
Here's the homerun.  While we were still sinners, while we not only didn't know God, we didn't care of his existence and hated and cursed the idea of his existence, while we were in the gutter, Christ chose to die for us.  God knew we hated him, God knew that even if He saved us many of us would spit in His face, He knew that even those of us who chose to follow him would continue to sin, to fall, and to fail the rest of our days - God Knew our value, He Knew our worth, and He Chose to buy us anyway.

The Bible is history book, but the important part is not the history of the world, it's the history of God; of who God is.  Verse after verse, line after line, we see who God is, how He feels about us, and the lengths that He will go to just for the slightest chance of spending time with us.  The "Good News" isn't a complicated convoluted mess, that's what the people already had, the Gospel is that it isN'T like that anymore - it's simple.  It's God loves you and sent His Son to die in your place so that He could have a chance to spend eternity with you.  It's faith not works.  It's forgiveness.  It's that God is love.  It's Grace.

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