I was at an event this past weekend called, Jesus in the Quran, and was caught off guard when I heard one verse read from the gospel of Luke. I actually looked it up to make sure he wasn't making it up. Check this out:
The Law and the Prophets were until John; since then the good news of the kingdom of God is preached, and everyone forces his way into it. Luke 16:16
This is Jesus speaking here, and he is speaking to the Pharisees. Think about this...the good news of the kingdom of God is preached, and everyone forces his way into it. This is quite amazing. This idea of "forces" is also seen as someone pushing themselves into the kingdom in a forceful manner...like they can't wait to enter because of what they have heard preached. Now, I am not denying God's sovereign rule here, so don't read that. But, the question has to come, "Why aren't people around you (me) forcing their way into the kingdom?"
Some will say that is because they are like Jeremiah, who brought the oracles of God and it was just God's will for him to be "unsuccesful" in the eyes of the world. But what if it isn't? What if what we are preaching is causing people to be turned off to the gospel? What if we have created our own Gospel, that isn't good news at all? Think of this. Just after this Jesus brings up that not one jot of the law will be destroyed, yet people will force their way into the kingdom. Meaning, the only way the Pharisees were going to keep people out of the kingdom is if they ADD to the law and the prophets, which they did plenty of.
I remember when I was in middle school, or somewhere around there, and I learned that some women around the world didn't shave their legs or arm pits. I was honestly disgusted. I couldn't believe it. How could women not understand that in order to be beautiful, they needed to shave? Not only that, but the dudes didn't mind if their women had hair all over their bodies...seriously?
Throughout my life, the more I learn about other cultures, the more I learn what is truly Western, or cultural, and what is actual truth. As I read something like this in Luke's gospel, I wonder if people aren't pushing, or forcing their way into the kingdom of God because we aren't making Jesus look as glorious as he should be? What if we have created such a Western, consumeristic Jesus that he looks disgusting instead? What if it is more about accepting a certian cultural standard than what the gospels actually speak about?
Not only that, but what if what we preach, we don't live? So, not only do we preach a Western Jesus, but we aren't even willing to follow that Western Jesus? How much of the gospel do we need to bastardize before we wake up and see the lives we are ruining?
Jesus said this:
My yoke is easy, my burden is light.
Seems like we are creating some sort of quasi secret club, where you need to climb the levels of understanding and culture to be redeemed.
What is amazing about this, is that the gospel is so simple that the theif on the cross merely believed and was said that he would see Jesus in paradise.
We have lost our first love...belief in Jesus and his power. Not only that, but we refuse to live like he calls us to. We don't love our neighbors, we don't love, pray for or bless our enemies, we aren't peacemakers, we aren't humble, etc. etc. etc.
Return to the gospel and look to see where you have Westernized the good news and get rid of that as a requirement to enter the kingdom. If it is your conviction, that is fine, but don't put your conviction onto others, or they might never force their way into the kingdom.