Sunday, July 23, 2006

What's the Gospel About?

If you've been reading my blogs you know I believe that Western culture has skewed our view of the gospel. As Western Christians we tend to place ourselves at the center of the world and then try to make God and church fit around us. We tend to do the same thing with the gospel. Thus the gospel has degenerated to something that is about me, about meeting my needs.

I'm realizing in a new way that the gospel is not about me, but about God! The gospel is about God's presence and power breaking into the world of sinful humanity in a new and dynamic way. Jesus speaks about the gospel in terms of the kingdom of God or the reign of God. The other New Testament writers speak about the gospel in terms of what God has done in Jesus! The gospel is not a commodity to meet our needs. Instead it is an invitation to participate in God's gracious action in the world. Of course we benefit as humans from the gospel but it is not about us. It is about God, His power, and His presence in the world.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

The Gospel of Meeting My Needs

I'm wrestling with the question "What is the gospel?" I realize that I have been shaped dramatically by my Western culture. We have been deeply embedded in the thinking of Maslow and his hierarchy of needs. In our prosperous land I'm not sure we know the difference between a "need" and a normal (but mostly inconsequential) human desire. For many Westerners, everything becomes a "need."

Maslow is quoted as saying "Life acquires its energy and dynamism from our relentless attempts to meet these needs." In other words, whatever we define as our "need" becomes the thing that we live for. Meeting our needs becomes the central purpose of life. Thus the gospel for many (if not most) Westerners is the "good news that Jesus will meet your needs."

Now it is biblically true that Jesus meets needs (Phil. 4:19). Our God is "Jehovah Jirah," the God who provides (Gen. 22:14). However, I believe that the problem is that in our intensely marketed, consumeristic culture, we do not know how to define "need." It seems like whatever we desire, it becomes a "need" and God must provide it!

The result is self-absorbtion and narcissism. Salvation and spiritual growth becomes all about meeting my needs - e.g. serving me. I am the center of my world. Could it be that the gospel is much more about the redemption of the world (including creation) than about me and my needs? I'm still wrestling with "What is the REAL good news?"