The Christian Message Versus The Gospel

“Increasingly, the Christian message is going to sound to our culture like something strange and foreign.” – Kevin DeYoung

You have probably read this tweet as it was being passed around by Christians of certain political belief systems, those that match closely to DeYoung and his Gospel Coalition cohorts. This one sentence also shines a glaring spotlight on the disconnect between traditional evangelical Christians and the rising number of post-evangelicals, NALT Christians, Progressive Christians, and others like them.

There is a huge difference between this “Christian Message” and “The Gospel.” The Gospel has always sounded strange and foreign to our culture. This so-called “Christian Message” is an independent political message that used to represent a majority of Americans back in the days of racism, sexism, homophobic legalism, and anti-intellectualism. As American has become, well, more American and representative of the the actual equality that it was founded on, this political message has become more strange and foreign.

The Gospel tells us to love our neighbor as ourselves no matter who they are.

This “Christian Message” tells us to legislate our neighbor to act and believe like ourselves and only ourselves.

The Gospel tells us that there is not more slave or free, male or female, Jew or Gentile – but that we are all equal.

This “Christian Message” tells us to make weird charts of equality that tell different people they have different roles and that even though there are lesser roles and greater roles that still means we are equal because…. well, no one really understands past that part.

The Gospel tells us that nothing can separate us from the Love of God, and that whosoever chooses to follow God can partake in His free gift of love no matter what sins they have committed.

This “Christian Message” tells us that certain people with certain sins are abominations to God no matter what they believe and that they can not partake in God’s gift of love because certain sins are worse than others in the eyes of God.

The Gospel actually has fewer things listed as “clear” sins and a lot more listed as “personal convictions” that we are told not to judge others for having different beliefs on (Romans 14).

This “Christian Message” has a long list of “clear” sins that it pulls from out of context scriptures in order to nullify personal conviction because rules are easier to follow than spirit.

And the list goes on. The Gospel is already foreign to this world because it tells the world that there is a God that cares about them and wants a personal relationship with them despite the fact that the world seems stacked against them and life is tough for all at times. It is strange and foreign because it tells you that no matter what bad things you have done, God will not reject you like people will. It is strange and foreign because it tells you that you have to make an effort to be a better person despite the fact that you are accepted for who you are. How often do you find someone like that in life? That is why it is so strange. It is a radical, transformative Love that transcends all other earthly forms of Love in ways that are just impossible to fathom at times. That is why it is strange and foreign.

metamodern-faith-avatarBut if your message is becoming strange and foreign, then it is because it wasn’t strange and foreign in the first place and therefore was never fully The Gospel – The Good News – of Jesus. So don’t blame culture for crying foul on something that you should have rejected in the first place.

Facebook and Disconnected Conversations

Sometimes I get a bit surprised by the stats on this site. Well, not the stats about site visits and unique viewers and all of that. Those are usually way over-inflated by paid trollers in Central Asia looking for weak code or unmonitored comment sections to exploit (or even unpaid trollers in the US just looking to direct traffic to their spam site through links in the admin section of WordPress). The stats that surprise me are the Facebook and Twitter shares. I mean, 40-50 shares on Facebook is not going to set the world on fire, but it is a huge number considering that I have almost no promotion for this site (it doesn’t have its own FB page, or Twitter account, or anything like that). I rarely share my posts (I know, bad blogger) and only a handful of friends post my stuff on FB, so I usually can’t account for 90% of those shares. That’s pretty crazy cool.

So to those sharing my posts on Facebook, Twitter, and other places – I thank you sincerely.

The only thing I don’t like is that I have no idea why those posts are being shared and I can’t be a part of the conversation that may or may not result from those shares. That is just the name of the game with Facebook and other sites – the conversations surrounding what you write are still as disconnected from the original author as they were back in the day of editorials in newspapers.

That is not to say that I want you to stop doing it – please continue to feel free to share. I would love to hear how the conversation goes, if at all possible. Maybe you could look at the comments section as kind of a “letters to the editor” section? Just come here and let me know how the conversation is going? Or ask me any questions. Or challenge something that you think is off (there’s a good chance you will be right).

So again I say, thank you for sharing the posts as far and wide as you have. I would love to be a part of the conversation in any way you think would work (although I rarely accept FB friend requests from people I don’t know). And sorry to the trollers out there if I don’t click on all the links you leave in the comments. Some of you are very nice in how you tell me you love my site. But I’m not going to approve your comments just to generate hits to your free Xanax site or Rollex knock-off website 🙂

metamodern-faith-avatarOh, and again to the 20 million unapproved commentators on the Rick Warren post – like I said before, thank you for helping me clear up the context of the quote (your comments really did help me learn something). That has already been taken care of, but again – the context of the quote was not the point of the post 🙂

The Pipe Dream of Universal Health Care

Look, I am just like anyone else: I would love free healthcare so that I rid myself of greedy, corrupt health insurance companies. I would love to just be able to walk into a hospital or doctor’s office, get taken care of, and walk out with having to worry if that day’s healing process was covered or if I have met my deductible yet or if I have met any of the other dozen concerns that I have to worry about with health insurance.

The problem is, that is not going to be the way universal healthcare, Obamacare, or any other mandated health plan will work for the people that really need it. Universal Healthcare is a pipe dream that will only make things easier for middle to upper class families that already have it relatively easy. A few lower middle class families facing catastrophic medical debt will also benefit, but we already know most of those cases since Obama’s defenders are trotting all of them out in the media like they are the norm (even though they are really extreme outliers).

The truth is, even if we could find a way to pay for and hand out free healthcare for all U.S. residents tomorrow, most of the poor that need this help will not benefit from it. Why?

One reason is access. Many people that need health care simply don’t live close enough to a hospital or clinic to even get the care they need. They don’t have a vehicle and they don’t have enough money for bus fare. On top of that, they may not even be mobile enough to get themselves to a vehicle. So what good is free health care if they can’t even get to it?

The second reason is the issue of what is causing their health problems in the first place: diet and exercise. So even if you get these masses of people to a hospital for treatment, a large chunk of them are going to find out the best thing they can do to improve their health is for them to eat better and exercise. But most of them are probably living in a food desert and eating whatever they can find. And exercise? How? They don’t have room or money for a home gym, and probably live in an area that is not safe for exercise outside. So they are going to get health care and then find out that they still can’t get better.

Our country really doesn’t need universal healthcare as much as it needs universal health education, food chain reform, urban renewal, and host of other factors that will actually improve quality of life more than free access to doctors.

What all this fighting over universal health care is really about is finding a way to assuage the nagging guilt that the well-off have about those less fortunate. It is a simple, easy solution that we just want to throw at people and say “see! I did something!” Kind of like food stamps made us all feel like we didn’t have to go out and feed the hungry any more. We think we “did something” – but do we care if it really works?

Thankfully I married someone with a Ph.D. in Health Studies. She really opened my eyes in a lot of ways to how politicians are not doing a very good job actually helping people in ways that truly work. Its also sad how many people will throw around opinions and not even stop to ask someone like her who might know a thing or two about these issues. People really are just justifying their vote and not stopping to look at the wider issues. Or for that matter, even examine the problems with their current side.

metamodern-faith-avatarWe need to realize that in between the two sides are real people with real health issues that have been really researched by real health educators who really know the real way to help them. These hurting people don’t care what side you are on. All they know is that the two sides in the Obamacare fight are both dead wrong. When are we actually going to start looking to the people who know how to do something meaningful?