For those of you who've been reading and commenting on my last post you will already be up in the know as to what this post may be about. Some discussion was raised about really how we as Christians are presenting the gospel - something that has been an age old debate for a long enough time. The sides presented are in reference to making sure that we aren't sharing the gospel in a way that judges or demeans people or their opinions, while at the same time honestly highlighting our importance for Jesus to save us from our sin. Notice that I used the words 'our' in that last sentence.
We're all in the same 'sin boat'. Much of the controversy and 'putoff' of Christianity in recent times is in reference to this very issue with many people saying that they often feel judged by Christians or feel as though they could never reach their 'holier than thou' rung on the ladder.
My thoughts are that this feeling can be felt when we as followers of Jesus, slip into the mindset that it's us vs. them. This kind of mindset can be very easy to fall into, I've been there myself many times, but is something that can be pretty destructive when we go about sharing the gospel with people who don't have the same belief system as us.I mentioned before, some of this mindset can be caused by missing the fact that it's not a "us vs. them".... it's a "us reaching us". What I mean by this is that we can easily forget that we would be in exactly the same boat as those who don't know God personally if it wasn't for God offering us the same gift that we're inviting others to. It's easy to slowly forget that we are just as sinful, just as fallen, just as in need of God - the only thing that's different between followers of Christ and those who don't is accepting God's free gift of salvation. Given by grace. We didn't get offered salvation because we're any more special - again, the only thing that is different is that we have accepted it and they haven't yet.
It's a pretty simple concept but it's a pretty important one to grasp. We're no different to the world. We make about the same mistakes (I know I do) and mishaps as others but we have someone who is willing to wipe them clean again because we're still human. It's important for us to watch the kind of words and language that we use - God loves His people, our language needs to reflect our love for people no matter what they believe. We need to meet people where they're at with a gospel that isn't judgement of others, but that is about helping people find a solution to the problem they often know they have.
Jesus. The ultimate example.
He didn't stand on the side of the gravel road in Jerusalem belting at the top of his lungs whilst holding a sign saying "Repent! The end is near" or something to that effect. That, as we would guess, would have turned everybody away or got him crucified right then and there. No. You know what he did? He made friends with the worst sinners. Not the ones who he thought might have had most of it altogether; he hung with the prostitutes and IRD guys. The guys everybody hated. And you know what he didn't do? He didn't preach at them about how sinful they were and how they were going to go to the worst place in the world if they didn't follow him. He saw the potential and the awesome person inside and brought it out. He didn't point the finger and say "you're the worst sinner I've met", he said "you're the greatest person in the world - why don't put aside the stuff that isn't going to work and follow me. You'll have the greatest life you can ever have."
What I'm getting at is I think sometimes we as Christians feel righteous enough to go about preaching the gospel in a way that makes people feel guilty enough about their not-so-pretty stuff that their only choice is to accept Jesus. But (in my experience anyway) they feel guilty enough about it already and the last thing they want is someone reminding them of that. What they want most is someone who can say "hey, what you've done doesn't matter when you choose Jesus. He accepts you for who you are, not for how perfect you are." That, to me, is the gospel. Yes, a challenge to people to realise their need for God's grace and redemption for their sin - but, also an invitation (which we've all been offered) to lay down their old life and recieve the greatest one they could have - for free.
I'm not a fired up super spiritual guy whose angry about Christians etc etc, I'm just putting out a challenge and an encouragement to think about the way we go about sharing the gospel. It's not supposed to be something we believe which somehow gives us an excuse to look down on people. It's an amazing invitation that God has offered freely to everyone who realises their need for God and chooses to accept Him. We need to be passionate about the sharing of the gospel but in a compassionate way. In a way that so freely offers it to anybody and everybody; just as Jesus did.