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I want to interrupt this series on the book of James for a day or two, to share with you a theme that continues to be troubling to me about Jesus’ message of the Good News. You see, I believe most people haven’t rejected the real person of Jesus, but they have rejected a poor caricature of Jesus. I’ve felt this for years, yet as I’ve come to know Jesus more personally, the more I am appalled at the caricature of Jesus within our society, even worse within the leadership of the Churches. I’m sharing this as one who has been there, done that, personally.
To make my point, I want to share with you a few stories. The first one has to do with the notion of the nature of the Gospel.
Many years ago, I went to a local Church to hear Paul Young, author of the classic book, THE SHACK. I rarely read any Christian fiction, so I was hesitant to read it, but a like-minded friend highly recommended it. So, after reading it, I was eager to hear Paul speak.
On Monday after listening to Paul, I entered into the Church’s coffee shop. I stopped and asked 3 of the young pastors sitting there what they thought of Paul’s message in the services and in his book. They had all read the book and heard, at least, two of the messages of the weekend. Their responses were fascinating and very revealing to me. They said, “We’ve been discussing just that, this morning and we’ve come to the conclusion that Paul Young left out a very critical part of the Gospel message of Jesus.” I asked, “What did he leave out?” Their answer set me in motion and really brought out of me a strong reaction! They said, “The wrath of God!”
With that I sat down and asked, “What does the wrath of God have to do with the Good News?” This kind of thinking is similar to those who believe the best evangelistic approach to people is to convince a person that he is a sinner. This emerges out of the teaching of exclusivity, that we have the truth and no one else has it. So, we need to mark someone as a sinner! And, that we somehow, our group, owns the answer to cleanse a person of his sin.
What solves this for me is that Jesus didn’t come into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be convinced of the truth of the Good News. He didn’t come to condemn.
Now, here’s the truth that is most revolutionary. JESUS IS THE GOSPEL! It’s not a prescription for life; it’s a person. His name isn’t Christ; it’s Jesus! NOW, let’s build on that for the next Jesus Minute!