What have we done to the Gospel? We have shaped it to suit our own purpose and need. So many are inclined to think that the gospel is all sweet and idyllic. There is the notion that it was intended primarily to comfort our puny little souls in this terrible, ruthless, and chaotic world. Jesus is seen as always gentle, meek, and mild—and we even dare to sing, “Jesus is mine!” The real fire of his spirit has been extinguished. God is viewed as little more than a magnification of our own human kindness.
When life tumbles in and we get stirred up about things in general and the going gets rough, we suppose we ought to change our ways and return to religion. (This return to religion happens to nearly every incarcerated person—we call it Jailhouse Religion). No one is quite clear as to what religion we are returning to! The scripture says that God is a “very present help in time of trouble,” but I have never found God to be an escape from it. Simone Weil says it well, “If we want a love that will protect the soul from wounds, we must love something other than God.”
Paul Scherer writes, “If Christianity is not true, there is very little percentage to be had from playing about with it on the theory that it is comfortable.” It is not comfortable and was never meant to be. It is extremely disturbing! One cannot delete Calvary!
Yet we do play around with it and have for centuries, seeking our own salvation without regard for neighbor or enemy, seeking our own healing without regard for the unhealthy conditions of our society and world, seeking our own security without concern for the insecurity of our brothers and sisters. I am very uncomfortable with how we have played around with the Gospel and even more uncomfortable as I read it this morning.
“When Jesus’ family heard of this, they set out to take charge of him; for people were saying that he was out of his mind” (Mark 3:21, NEB).
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