Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Cheap Gospel

Ancient olive trees in Gethsemane's garden ...
Once every hundred years Jesus of Nazareth meets Jesus of the Christian in a garden among the hills of Lebanon. And they talk long; and each time Jesus of Nazareth goes away saying to Jesus of the Christian, "My friend, I fear we shall never, never agree."  ~ Kahlil Gibran, 1926

Why would he say that?

A friend, thinking his way through the question, suggested that perhaps we've been persuaded to a 'cheap gospel'.  One where our purpose is to attend church and do religious things so we can go to heaven. Interestingly, Jesus himself never suggested going to church.  All of his teachings were about choice and love, conscience and service, and caring about others.  Going to church wasn't part of the curriculum.

If it's true that our purpose is here and now, how shall we then live?

For the literalists among us, take a look at the biblical 'church' (Greek; ekklesia, a calling out from ... and to ..., from kaleo, to call).   

For Jesus, there was this 'calling out' of which he spoke, and just the one; not many callings out, not many churches. And to what purpose did he call them?

Church is those 'called out' people, wherever they are;
at home, at school, at work, or scattered across
the world. It's not a place or a building, it's us.

Just attending church doesn't seem to line up with any biblical teachings.   
Having been called out, on the other hand, perhaps called out and received by him, seems to fit more in the context of citizenship and service and perhaps even family. And purpose for us here and now.


Sometimes faith turns into religion. Devotion becomes obligation, and suddenly you feel like you’re just going through the motions. Know what I mean?