Friday, March 21, 2014

The Real Gospel

I have been thinking the past few days about my life and the message of the cross in my life. I grew up knowing that Jesus loved me and died for my sin so that I could go to heaven. I was taught that day in and day out throughout my childhood.  I know that's true. Even if you don't believe it because the Bible says so, you can look through history and you can see that it is factual. A man named Jesus was crucified as "The King of the Jews". History meets Bible story.
But I think that somewhere the Church has gotten this Bible story wrong. I think they have missed the point. In my experience, the missing of the point created the opposite of what they were striving to do. I'll explain what I mean.

What is the typical Sunday morning gospel or cross message?
1. God is perfect.
2. You are a sinner.
3. God hates your sin and can't be around you because you are filthy.
4. You deserve to go to hell.
5. Jesus died on the cross so that you don't have to go to hell (a frustrated effort to fix your sin problem).
6. Now you can be forgiven and go to heaven because Jesus rose again.

It's been my experience that the Gospel presentation has emphasized my depravity and sin more than God's love.
What this has done is created a sin-consciousness in the lives of Christians.
Christians are all too aware of sin in the lives of other Christians, non-believers, and themselves. This creates really ugly condemnation and judgement. Both are the opposite of what God wants for humanity.
Romans 8 says there is no condemnation
John 3 says God didn't send Jesus to condemn the world, but to save the world because of His great love.
Sidenote: The law condemns (Romans 7), Jesus redeems.
 Romans 7:4 says we have died to the law 
so that we can belong to Jesus in love. 

So many well meaning believers beat themselves and others up with the law that is now powerless because of Christ's death and resurrection. Romans 6:6-11reminds us that we died with Christ- our sinful nature is no more. We are alive with Christ. Free from sin. 2 Corinthians 5:17 calls us a new creation.

Paul shared a really beautiful, truth in Romans- to sum it up, basically it's we do what we don't want to do when we focus on what we don't want to do. 

When I was younger 10-12ish, I hated saying the number "six" because I was always afraid that I would accidentally say the word "sex" (and that was a super dirty word! :-p ) It never failed though, every time I tried to not say "sex" and make sure I said "six" it always ended up sounding more like "sex" than "six". I did what I did not want to do because I was focusing on not doing rather than doing. 

Another example:
When people are studying to learn how to identify counterfeit money, they study the real thing. They do not study the counterfeit or what to look for in a counterfeit bill. They gaze upon the real thing. The learn the real bill. 

So many believers have gotten so focused on identifying lies they have forgotten to study the truth. 

Yes, Jesus died for my sin. 
But the reason He died was for love. The cross wasn't a frustrated attempt to fix mankind. It was the goal all along. Jesus was crucified before the foundations of the earth. It was His joy to die for us because He loves us so deeply! 

I haven't heard a sin focused gospel message in a good 4 to 5 months. I am not struggling with wanting to sin either. I don't desire sin because I have locked eyes with Love. I'm not saying I am perfect. Somedays, I really struggle with selfishness, which is sin. But I don't desire sin on a regular basis. I can't remember the last time that I had to make myself not sin and force myself to avoid temptation. I don't want the lesser loves when I know Love. 

Friends, don't focus on not doing, not sinning. Focus on the Man Jesus who loves you. Don't focus on the sin He died for. Focus on the look of love in His eyes. 
Behold the man name Love. 

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