Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God. (Revelation 3:2)
In spite of the many things that the Evangelical Church has gotten right, I believe there are many other things we gotten wrong. This blossoms into a host of issues, but here I am thinking about how we have allowed secular society to have an effect on our theology.
The world’s aspirations are narcissistic ones which tries to take what they can from any one thing and then move on to the next thing from which they can benefit. Likewise, we in the Evangelical church have recently tended to concern ourselves with those truths in Scripture that are most evidently beneficially to us, and in so doing we have redefined the gospel of Christ to be a message about our personal eschatology.
The gospel is thought to be a message about us and about how we can attain salvation. We have become so pre-occupied with “going to heaven” that once are sure of it, we feel as if we’ve scored the ultimate theological touchdown
The chief goal of the gospel on this understanding - and in large swaths of Evangelicalism - is to simply attain salvation, to “go to heaven,” or perhaps to “escape hell.” Thus, the gospel which is in fact a dynamic message about the victory and Lordship of Jesus has become a linear message simply about how we can become beneficiaries of Jesus.
A Christ – Centered Gospel
But the gospel cannot be reduced to advice on “escaping hell” or “getting to heaven” – it is not merely message about how we can benefit from Jesus. Rather, the gospel is a message entirely about the person of Jesus and how God has decisively launched His Kingdom in and through Him.
This is then good news because “if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9).
But notice, our salvation is an implication of the gospel – it is not the gospel itself. Therefore, our emphasis must not be placed on heaven and how to get there, nor should it be placed on hell and how to escape it. Rather, our focus must be steadfastly upon the death, resurrection, and Lordship of Jesus (see Romans 10:9; 1 Corinthians 15:1-5).
A Paradigm Shift
I propose that once we align the gospel to the historical death and physical resurrection of Christ, the culture will begin to see the gospel, not as a hyper-spiritual message which is somehow one step removed from reality; but rather, as a message of real events in history which cannot be ignored by the intellectual honest.
I’ve been told that a back adjustment can optimize the function of your entire body. If one’s spine is shifted to the left or to the right it is going to have an adverse effect how the whole body functions. However, once the spine is centered correctly, the body evidently becomes more mobile and more flexible, and ultimately more capable of performing the tasks it needs to perform.
Likewise, once we re-align the gospel back to Christ, its functionality will be optimized. It will draw people to the Person of Jesus and His mission. I believe there needs to be a paradigm shift in the Evangelical church which orients our message toward Jesus and his Kingdom, as opposed to its current orientation toward personal eschatology.
When we see ourselves as disciples of Jesus advancing the dominance of God’s Kingdom, we will see as a result that we are not just beneficiaries, but agents of the gospel