Saturday, December 24, 2011

messing up the Gospel

This is the time of year where we mess up the Gospel. 
I mean it.
We mess up the Gospel, because we confuse the Gospel with sentimental mush. 
And no, I am not the Grinch.
We mess up the gospel, because:
  • we sing songs that sentimentalize the birth of Jesus; 
  • we focus a lot on gifts - both the giving & the receiving;
  • we spend a fortune on decorations;
  • we eat too much of the wrong types of food;
  • we try to pretend that family relationships are fine;
  • we volunteer at soup kitchens, because it makes us feel good;
  • we put on Christmas Cantatas & programmes, thinking this is evangelism;
  • we... [you can add in your item]
We do all this stuff & we mess up the Gospel.
You see Jesus was born to mess with religious life, to mess with the messes that fill our lives.
The birth of Jesus was just the beginning (actually it comes somewhere in the middle of the story... but I don't have space to tell that whole story).
John the baptist quoted the prophet Isaiah about a bulldozer movement:
Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him. 
Every valley shall be filled in, every mountain and hill made low.

The crooked roads shall become straight the rough ways smooth.

And all mankind will see God's salvation. 

Luke 3:4-6 quoting Isaiah 40:3-5 NIV 
Jesus announced that his ministry was kingdom ministry, expressed most concisely in the words of the prophet Isaiah:
The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor.

Luke 4:18-19 quoting Isaiah 61:1-2 NIV
The Gospel of the Kingdom of God has to do with a lot more than what we often focus on around Christmas or even Advent. Or can I say it without being accused of heresy, than Lent and Good Friday and Easter. I don't minimize, in any way, the reality or the importance of these events for understanding the Incarnation. But the Gospel of the Kingdom of God that Jesus came proclaiming, announcing, demonstrating, and establishing is so much bigger than we often think.
Jesus calls us to be the people of God,
partnering with him
in his redemptive mission,
in the world.
Unpacking that, living that out is a full time job of listening to the Spirit and being obedient. That's a lot more and a lot more challenging and fulfilling than some of our Christmas stuff.

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