Contend Earnestly: Have I Missed the Point of the Gospel?

Monday, October 12, 2009

Have I Missed the Point of the Gospel?


This post really sucks. Just to warn you, I don't make much sense in this post, but is really just blog entry that has a lot of different points and thoughts. Sorry in advance for the weirdness and thoughts that are all over the place.

As I sat in church yesterday, listening to the gospel message being put forth by one of the Soma elders Jeff Vanderstelt, I started to wonder if we have missed the point of the Gospel. The reason is because of the powerful message put forth by Jeff, not despite his message. Jeff spoke about the three aspects of the Gospel, which was to save us, is saving us and will save us. Meaning the Gospel has happened is powerful for the past, present and future. I will have to say that my understanding of the gospel has been mainly focused on what it has done and what it will do, but very little in the great understanding of it's affects for today. I believe in the power of what Christ did on the cross, but I wonder if I believe in the power of Christ's resurrection for myself today, to live it out to others. I just wonder if we, if I, have missed the point of the gospel.

The past five years, it seems as though my process of works has been self motivated. I also believe that I am not alone. What I have found after thinking about yesterday is that my life has been about defending doctrine and telling others about Jesus. Now, this sounds great on the surface, but is a real danger and pride bearer for anyone left to his own flesh.

Because the focus has been on defending doctrine and telling others about Jesus, I have spent little time on my life with Jesus. How does his gospel truly affect my life? How does he affect my relationships with those that do evil against me? How does he affect my times of monetary struggles? How does he affect me to reach out to the hurting? How does he affect me to be a good husband? How does he affect me to be a good father?

What this is really saying is am I truly affected by the gospel so that I can then affect others deeply for the gospel? Am I making disciples or am I merely yelling at others and telling them how they are wrong and what they should do different?

Instead of asking myself if I have been saved and what are the fruits of my salvation, I only ask others this, then challenge what doctrines that I believe that they have mistaken to be unorthodox. Now, don't get me wrong, I believe sound doctrine and telling others about the gospel is important, but if it comes at the expense of never having one's life transformed, it does little good for you personally for eternity. One can have great doctrine and still not know Jesus. One can be saved and in heaven only to find that the person who told them about Jesus stands condemned because they were never circumcised in the heart, only bent in the mind to spew truths.

I just wonder sometimes: Have I missed it? As we look at the life of Christ and the words of Him, we need to see that he truly has done it all for us and that we can never measure up, but God looks at us as though we have measured up because of the righteousness of Christ, not anything within us. So, instead of me trying to measure up by having all the right answers (doctrines, orthodoxy, orthopraxy), serving in all kinds of ministries, memorizing Scripture, telling others about Jesus from afar, I now am seeing that what I must do. Yes, continue to do some of those things, but also get my hands dirty and dig deep and make disciples. Because if we are not making disciples, which is a word that is deeper than having someone say some weird sinner's prayer, then are we really a disciple ourselves?

I mean, we are told that we will suffer in this world, that some will hate us, that we should love those whom are our enemies, that we should help the poor and that we should imulate Christ and incarnate him to others, that would we should carry one another's burdens, that we should care for each other. Are we, am I, doing this? Or am I masking ministries, writings and sermons as what a real Christian does? Do I really think that because I serve in many areas of the church that that is what makes me a mature Christian? Because what did those Christians base their salvation on in the Middle Ages where churches met in a stone house with no tracts or Youth Group? Am I spending too much time focusing on the lack of perfect orthopraxy of other ministries instead of looking at the lack in myself and the fullness of Christ?

I used to not help out with the local single women's shelter because the place would send women to any local church instead of taking a stand on certain doctrines that I hold dear. Instead of incarnating Jesus to these ladies and showing them Jesus, I would stand afar and scoff at other churches who were helping them. Who looks like a Pharisee and who looks like Jesus in this? Again, knowing that doctrine is still very important, but, honestly, who cares if a church hands out gas cards to get people at their church and then helps out the poor? It's better than scoffing at those churches who are desperately trying to be the hands and feet of Jesus.

What I am trying to say through this is that Christ tells us that "Go, therefore" which really means, "as you go, make disciples." In every day life, those that God has put around me, I need to make disciples for Christ. The only way to do this is to understand that the power of the resurrected Christ has been given to me, his Son, to live like I believe God is in control and has given me a past, present and future hope in his righteousness, grace and mercy.

The first question that I am asking myself: Am I a disciple? Am I truly affected by Christ and his gospel? Am I in the battle or am I merely someone who strategizes for the battle without ever entering it?

The second question: Am I making discples or am I merely pointing fingers at others who are trying?

Or, Am I a Christian living like Jesus did or am I a Pharisee who tells everyone else what they should be doing?


6 comments:

michael said...

Well done, yet again! Seth i have said it before and i will say it again, i love your transparency. I think what you are doing, is working out your salvation with fear and trembling. To me, if your not questioning-you aren't growing. If you aren't be offended by scripture and it's not bringing forth repentance there's something wrong. I think sometimes our knowledge of the bible can block our relationship with God. It can become a Religion instead of a relationship. Again, nice job on this post!

Bryce Lathrop said...

Nicely done. I just finished the latest book from Francis Chan called Forgotten God that deals with this exact issue.

Seth said...

Your paragraphs are too long.

Anonymous said...

it's a catch 22. you are caught in a religion and yet, you want to deny you are in a religion. just because you want it to be a relationship does not divorce you from the stronghold of your religious practices and dogmas.

at the end of the day, your religious beliefs may hamper you from doing greater good - which you are beginning to wonder - by confining you within your religious narrative and your understanding of who jesus was and is to you as taught by your religious leaders.

of course you don't have to believe what i say. you will find out for yourself like i did.

Seth McBee said...

Anonymous.

It's actually not a catch 22 by any sense of the word. The reason is that when you say "religion" I am guessing you put that within the confines of any organized group that seeks outward approval from something that they call "god". Where each religion will define that god in different ways. And each religion must do good things in order to make that god happy enough to accept those good works.

This is actually antithetical to the true Gospel that was commenced at the coming and dying of the true Messiah. Because he demolished religion in every sense of the word. Instead of my good works appeasing a god, Jesus appeased the true God and his wrath for me. Meaning, I am in no religion at all, but in something completely freeing of any heavy yoke of other pagan religions. My works aren't done to appease God, but works are done because I love what he did.

I would also want you to define what you mean when you speak of me only understanding Jesus through the narrative that is taught by my religious leaders.

You seem to make a mistake that my learning only comes through the knowledge of others and not any investigation on my own behalf.

Thank you for stopping by, but know that I am not caught up in religion at all. I am caught up in the One who was anti-religion and paved the way to freedom, not slavery.

Anonymous said...

"Where each religion will define that god in different ways. And each religion must do good things in order to make that god happy enough to accept those good works."

You mean to tell me your god will be happy if you remain in "grace" without real changes in your behavior?

"This is actually antithetical to the true Gospel that was commenced at the coming and dying of the true Messiah. Because he demolished religion in every sense of the word."

i have no doubt jesus demolished religion.However, you can't say you have ditched your dogmas and church disciplines haven't you?

"Instead of my good works appeasing a god, Jesus appeased the true God and his wrath for me. Meaning, I am in no religion at all, but in something completely freeing of any heavy yoke of other pagan religions. My works aren't done to appease God, but works are done because I love what he did."

you are convinced you now do out of "love" instead of "requirements" but the way i see it, it is clever way to convince the mind to switch perspective and in doing so, better achieve the same objectives.

lastly, you new found strength to obey is derived from christ but has it proven consistent.

i think the grace movement is clever to trick the mind off the pressure to conform to god's nature therefore removing the sting of condemnation and unwelcome judgment on oneself to christ.

the premise is, if you can believe superman is in you or lives within you, you can "fly" or stop any bullets(condemnation) coming your way

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