“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.
But 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.