Tuesday, February 27, 2024

The Gospel Truth

To start talking about the Gospel as truth in a post-truth world, we have to understand that the problem with the Gospel isn't new. That is, the Gospel truth was always offensive to the world. That's what got our Savior killed. 

That's what got the masses chasing Him, trying to throw Him off a cliff. That's what got the Pharisees sitting around, scheming up a way to get rid of Him. That's what got the Roman guards to march Him out to a hill called Golgotha and crucify the Son of God. None of that happened because these persons didn't like - even love - God; it happened because the message of Christ - the truth that He lived - was offensive. 

It did not get better after His death, and certainly, not after His resurrection. 

And yet, this is the first thing the world tells us today - that we can't talk about Jesus or present the Gospel truth because it's "offensive." 

It's offensive for a few reasons. 

The first is that we don't like anyone telling us that our good is not good enough. As I've mentioned several times in this space, most of us consider ourselves better than average when it comes to goodness (and of course, mathematically, it is impossible for that to be true). The Gospel truth says that we are all sinners and there is not one of us righteous, not even one, but in a world in which we are all convinced that we are fundamentally good persons, being told that we are not is offensive. 

The second is closely related to the first - we don't like being told that we can't save ourselves. In our highly-individualistic culture, we have been given reason to believe that we are our own savior. Our lives are in our own control, and we make of them whatever we want them to be by our own hard work and investment. This is even more true in a post-truth world where we're allowed to tell whatever story we want about our life and expect, even demand, others to buy into it. No matter how ridiculous. If they don't, they are obviously full of "hate" and are the reason the world sucks. (Christianity tells us the world sucks because we are all sinners, every one of us. But I digress.) 

The third spins off of that - we don't like that, if we aren't our own Savior, that there might be another one. Nobody's going to tell us what to do. Nobody's going to make us buy into their little story, their little myth that they believe in to make themselves feel better. 

Interesting note: for as often as the world protests against religion and declares, "Nobody's going to tell me what to believe!" it's funny to see how quickly they believe whatever the thing they do believe in tells them, whether that be science or media or politics or whatever. Someone is telling you what to believe, no matter who you are; the only question is, who are you letting tell you what to believe? 

But what's most offensive, and at the root of all of this, is that the Gospel truth declares an exclusivity - an absoluteness to its truth that the world just can't swallow any more. 

Jesus is the only way? That seems really "hateful." Maybe even "racist." It certainly seems "elitist." And, the world says, it doesn't mesh with the image of the all-accepting, all-loving, all-welcoming Jesus who ate with sinners and washed the feet of His disciples and talked to a Samaritan woman. This Jesus that we preach as so radical could not possibly also be so dogmatic as to claim an exclusivity to the Christian faith - that it could be the only way. 

What about everyone else in the world, created in the image of God (whether they believe that or not) who doesn't believe in Him? Is He really just going to send them to Hell? Not much of a "loving" God. 

That's really how the world has turned so many Christians away from the Gospel truth and toward a more liberal embrace of tolerance masked as grace. They've told us that our Jesus can't be loving and exclusive, and we have essentially said - okay, He is loving. And we push aside the truth that He spoke, which was in no uncertain terms. 

I Am the way, the truth and the life. NO ONE comes to the Father except through me. 

So what now? 

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