As I finally sit down to hash out some words, I feel like an oversaturated sponge that has been soaking for too long and needs to be wrung out. At the same time, I’m just as exhausted as everyone else with all the incoming news and updates from the front. It feels like little grenades are being lobbed over the fence at us as each morning. Little bombs of discouragement to ponder and fret over. One at a time they are manageable, but taken as a whole, it’s like death by a thousand little blows.
Society spins and descends into madness, it eats it’s own and spits them out only to begin all over again. Some of us are appalled at the abject wickedness while others are hunkered down consumed with worry. We have the nagging sense that something has been unleashed, and that this is a period of time one will someday be reading about in the history books (if they still exist, that is).
I’d like to not add another clanging cymbal to this disastrous orchestra performance, instead I’d like to focus on one giant truth that would do us all a world of good, one that has been both overlooked and mocked these past few weeks, and that is simply, the gospel is the answer.
The yoke of this present world is simply too much for humans to bear. Jesus offers not only a lighter one, but a completely different one, which allows for freedom beyond what anything we could ever attain on our own. There is no forgiveness or redemption in the new world order, only sacrifice to a false god of chaos that will never be satiated. If your standard is handed down by man, you are without hope. Man is ruthless, unforgiving and ever-changing.
If your church or those you follow are preaching the gospel “plus” a healthy dose of worldly woke philosophy, you may want to take a peek behind the curtain to see just what that entails. If the gospel comes with a “yeah but…” it’s a red flag. This doesn’t mean we all sit idly by and sing kum ba ya, until the second coming and pretend things are fine, but now more than ever we have to remain “on mission” as our pastor says. The world demands we apostatize to the new order of things, but Jesus demands our full hearts. We don’t need to borrow their terminology, their memes, their buzzwords or their hot takes to be effective.
Here’s a tragically appropriate example:
What an interesting take. I know, I know… these days we need to read things with nuance and wokeness because everything is just so complicated and we are all so oblivious to the new truths. But there is nothing new under the sun. What a joke if we think we are the first society to ever be plagued with the ills of racism and partiality. I’ve read the explanations from the author of this tweet and they don’t move me one bit. Telling people that the Good News is both useless and not appropriate for this new-fangled problem we have of men living in sin and selfishness will never be the answer. The addition of “the end” at the bottom is a nice way of saying don’t even think of questioning my opinion here, you Bible-thumpers.
But thump our Bibles we must… just not over peoples’ heads. Misguided justice is no justice at all. “We must LOVE!” you say… indeed we must. Anyone who gets up in the morning with their eyes on Jesus and a humble heart to do what His word says will naturally do that and more, because the gospel and love are complimentary to one another, not contradictory. Simply “listening to others”, identifying bad things as bad… is not a solution. The fact that you or me or every company and celebrity known to man has come out against a specific sin does not stop the sin. If only. “Spread the gospel except when big ol’ political movements tell you not to…” is not a thing. “Doing the work” is a mighty goal, but totally abstract and never well-defined. It’s too hard and it will never, ever be enough.
No true reconciliation without Jesus. No healing without Jesus. Not ever.
Do what you can in the world, join the causes that are worthy, help and love your neighbor as yourself. Do it all, because we aren’t called to hunker down like frightened sheep. But hear this loud and clear: the root of this madness is sin. Racism is a sin. Murder is a sin. Those are leaves on the tree, and until we deal with the root, we aren’t dealing with anything. The new buzz word “systemic” is actually true… at the root of sickness, fear, rioting, racism, corruption, addiction, and anything else you can think of is the fact that we are fallen creatures in fallen bodies that need Jesus to reconcile us back from death itself. That reconciliation is the headwaters from which everything else will flow. The old bumper sticker proves true: “No Jesus, No Peace.”
Caring about peoples’ lives and their souls isn’t mutually exclusive. Paul was a great example of this. He would put himself amongst the crowds with an understanding of both people’s physical and spiritual needs. So did the disciples, as they fed crowds while preaching eternal truths.
We are commanded over and over to preach the word, in or out of season, to all people, and at all times be ready to tell them about the hope that is in us. ( See here and here). We can argue semantics, but I’m pretty sure if the message was taken all over the world for the past 2,000 years, through wars and plagues and famines, the problems of 2020 are not exempt.
As the old song goes, they’ll know we are Christians by our love. Indeed they will, but our love must be a Christlike, Jesus-honoring, kind of love, not some pandering, fake, “please don’t come for me next, I’ll say anything, just don’t cancel me” kind of love.
If you have been deceived into thinking that sharing the gospel is somehow patronizing or unloving, maybe you’ve been too focused on people and not enough on Jesus Himself. If the solutions proposed by our society were real, they would have worked by now, but the opposite is happening.
Christians, the gospel IS love. It is the one thing powerful enough to cut through injustice and everything else our sin has caused. Don’t let people with one foot in each camp tell you to stop proclaiming the thing the world needs most. It isn’t as ‘nuanced’ as they want you to believe, and God is not an author of confusion.
The gospel will preach, as they say. It can stand on it’s own, if we will just be the vessel. It is spiritual truth, and a served meal. It is a listening ear, and a spoken prayer. It’s why we meet together, listen together and learn together. To separate words from actions, truth from love, physical from spiritual, is decidedly un-Christian.
The void will be filled with something if we do not speak out, it’s a fact. Speak into the dark places. I think the world is primed and ready for something of substance, something real. He who shouts loudest doesn’t always win out in the end.