The self-destructive Gospel

“Once we understand the disconnection between the current message and ordinary life, the failure noted at least make a certain sense.  They should be expected.  When we examine the broad spectrum of Christian proclamation and practice, we see that the only thing made essential on the right wing of theology is forgiveness of the individual’s sins.  On the left it is the removal of social or structural evils.  The current gospel then becomes a “gospel of sin management.”  Transformation of life and character is no part of the redemptive message . Moment-to-moment human reality in its depths is not the arena of faith and eternal living.”- Dallas Willard

Its hard not to walk by people and feel the depths of their self-hatred. Shame is riding upon so many every waking moment. They feel the overwhelming embarrassment of their appearance, intelligence, and position of life. We identify ourselves with these things, rather than who we are. We are entangled in lies and sins, and, we just want to avoid facing it, because, we are deeply afraid. We are deeply afraid of we are. So much, that we avoid ourselves, in order to experience, what we perceive, to be the best parts of who we are.

The stranger that we carry within often becomes the enemy. We don’t like the parts of ourselves that are addicted, angry, anxious, cold and depressed. So we try to overcome the enemy by trying to conquer it. We hide the enemy from others and go to war, and, always end up losing. This is how the self-destructive Gospel goes.

This is why Jesus is so great. Jesus, being God, teaches us to be unconditional love. Loving all things, including our enemies. And, when we learn to love and accept the enemy within, we welcome the compassion and tenderness that heals us. The enemy within us soon lets down its guard, puts down its weapons and we enter into friendship with ourselves. We become okay with who we are. We can accept and love our flaws, as we experience that same acceptance and love from God. This inner acceptance and peace allows us to carry it with us. When we learn to love the stranger and enemy within, doing so for others doesn’t seem so troubling.

The road to forgiveness and peace is one that we must travel first before we can extend it to others. All true great leaders know they can only take people as far as they themselves have gone. Willing yourself to any place can get you far, but, it will leave you angry and exhausted. But, when you yourself have traveled the road, walking beside someone in the darkness, doesn’t seem so dark, because you have been there before. Any Gospel that teaches us to fear ourselves and others is no Gospel at all, that’s not “good news”.

My hope is, is that the Gospel is something that always leads us to ourselves and others and doesn’t neglect either.

“The spiritual life does not remove us from the world but leads us deeper into it”
—Henri Nouwen


2 thoughts on “The self-destructive Gospel

  1. I really like the line where you write, “Any Gospel that teaches us to fear ourselves and others is no Gospel at all, that’s not “good news”.” I think, for anyone to reject this is to reject the message of the Bible. I’ve been learning this recently because of the Freedom in Christ program. I think one of my favorite translations of 2 Timothy 1:7 is the NKJV translation, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” So long as we believe that the Gospel cannot cause fear and be from God. Brilliant thoughts Mike, they are simple and yet so very eloquent. What I love most about how this has been learned was I had to come to dependence on God alone before I finally caught it making Jesus’ prayer in Matthew 11:25 all the better.

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