There is a tendency among the religious to project god beyond history, into the unknown and the unknowable. Religion often enthrones this god somewhere, in some after life which we may (if we are good enough) gain someday and be in this god’s company. There is a tendency to put this god outside the present as one who is oblivious of our present existence, or at least indifferent to it. For me, this god is so abstract, irrelevant, and impotent as to be a ridiculous god, in fact, no god at all.
Religion of this sort does not interest me. Religion of this sort does not do anything for my practical, everyday life. If God lives somewhere and someplace else, I do not care much about such a god. But I do care “that God is with us now, anyway and already, and even, thank God, before we call upon Him. I care a lot,” writes William Stringfellow, “when I hear the news of Jesus Christ (Gospel) because it is a different news than I receive when I encounter various religions.” There is a difference between Religion and the Gospel.
The Gospel (Jesus) gives evidence of the care of God for everything that has to do with actual life. The Gospel (Jesus) reveals a God who cares for me and with every life lived by anybody and everybody, everywhere! Jesus speaks to my life: its fatigue and compulsions, its contradictions and freedoms, its ambiguity, its quiet, its wonder, its sin, its triumphs and its defeats. I believe Jesus comes to your life: touches your whole biography, holding every secret with you, whoever, wherever you are, any time, any place. The Gospel (Jesus) tells of a God who also cares about the destinies of the nations and all the various institutions.
Religion tends to suggest that God is yet to be discovered. Authentic Christianity knows that God has already come among us—not for a visit of 30-some years—but has been with us and will be with us for always. Religion suspects there is a God, somewhere. The Gospel proclaims His presence and action in this world —even in those circumstances within which we are unaware of Him.
The religious think that only the religious know about God or care about God, and that God cares only for the religious. What nonsense this is! We have the Gospel, which tells a far different story.