Tuesday, February 08, 2005
More on the Simple Gospel
I have to confess some amazement at the comments and trackbacks that Adrian's post created. They ranged from "too simplistic" to "too complex" and everywhere in between. Whatever happened to C.S. Lewis' notion of "Mere Christianity?" Never mind, I just did a Google search on "Mere Christianity" and found way too many people that thought Lewis was an idiot.
This makes me ask -- Why do we make things so difficult? If we cannot agree on a simple notion of a few points to represent the heart of the Gospel is it any wonder the world at large finds Christianity as foolish. But then Paul said that was not such a bad thing.
I am going to take a stab at why things are this messy - idolatry. That's right idolatry. We tend to equate idolatry with Baal worship. Some of my most radical protestant brethren will tell you that our orthodox brethren are idolatrous because of the role icons play in their worship, but that's not what I'm talking about. No idolatry is far more insidious than that.
The way I understand it, idolatry is letting anything, anything whatsoever take a more preeminent place in our hearts than Jesus Christ himself. Not our ideas about Jesus, not our institutions dedicated to Jesus, not even our gifts from the Holy Spirit. We get so wrapped up in those things that we forget about Jesus Himself, and that is when it all goes off the rails.
The best analogy I can think of is weddings. In this day and age weddings are the biggest event in an individual's life. Subsequently people pour enormous amounts of effort into the design of the ceremony, the decoration, the clothing, the photographer.... When they do so, thay often forget that the wedding is about them and their intended pledging their lives to each other, and about celebrating that pledge with those that are nearest and dearest. I know many stories of broken relationships that happened because someone in a wedding was wound so tight they said an irrevocable and terribly hurtful thing to a member of the wedding party, or maybe even their intended. Does that make any sense?
Some times we get so wrapped up in buildings and programs, worship music and liturgy, staff and volunteers, that we forget to talk to Jesus -- forget to read about Jesus -- forget to invite Jesus in our hearts. The person of Jesus is more important than any theology about Jesus.
That's why I love a simple gospel -- It does not get in the way of Jesus.