The Gospel in Church?
A while back I wrote a sentence--expressed an opinion--that has continued to echo in my mind, to persist in my thoughts, to pop up again and again, requiring attention. The thought was this--I don't hear the Gospel much in my church.
Now, I don't mean this as a bitter complaint. I mean it as an observation, one that needs testing. Furthermore, I love my church, but I'm also realistic about it. Sunday morning is not always going to satisfy my deepest spiritual longings. Lord knows, I wouldn't want to be put to the test every Sunday morning, as our pastors are, week after week. We need to give these folks a lot of grace. Not only that, but I may be wrong! If there's something that I think I'm not hearing, it could be because I'm not listening.
Nevertheless, I believe it's true that in the the course of all the Sunday morning hullabaloo, the Gospel of Christ often slips through the cracks. If you've been keeping up with the gang over at Together for the Gospel, you've probably given some thought to a couple of questions C.J. asked a while back:
1) What is the Gospel?Good questions, both. Really good questions, that we should all consider carefully. C.J.'s post on this subject is here.
2) What is the most serious threat to the Gospel today?
The fact is, we can espouse Biblical themes, talk about God, exegete the Scriptures to our heart's content, and yet never come to a clear rendition of the Gospel of Christ. In fact, there are plenty of worship songs about God that would pass muster in any Unitarian church on the planet: God is great, God loves us, let's party! Can I just say this: I'm really tired of those songs.
What is the greatest threat to the Gospel? Forgetfulness, maybe. Or the normal human thirst for something new. Or moralism. Or the sincere desire not to offend. Or perhaps just spiritual a.d.d. All of these things, I suppose, and more.
Daniel Cruver at Eucatastrophe is in the midst of an excellent consideration of this theme. The series of posts addresses the question, "Is it a Christ-centered sermon?" People, this is a really good series, addressing a a question that every Christian church-goer needs to be asking. I urge you to read the whole series, beginning here.
And that's really all I have to say for now. It's frighteningly easy to drift away from a Gospel-centered message, and not even know it! It is frighteningly easy to talk much about Jesus but completely miss the Gospel. We should be careful about this. That is, we should be full of care. It should matter above all other things.