Wednesday, 14 May 2014

The Gospel for the Rich

On Monday I felt it necessary to question how we can possibly motivate people who seem to be doing fine, that they need Jesus.  Not just that Jesus is a nice guy to be connected to - or saying you're a Christian to appease someone else... but that Jesus is a necessity.  I know He is - because I have experienced the grace and love and hope He gives through new life... I could never imagine getting by without that.

But many these days may know all about Him, may have grown up in church and still be attending, yet still feel that they have never experienced Jesus actually doing anything for them.  How does one communicate the necessity of Jesus to people who are living this life?

The same day these questions were swirling in my head I read this;
The gospel... leads us to be humble, free from moral superiority, because we know we were spiritually bankrupt yet saved by Christ's free generosity. It leads us to be gracious, not worried too much about people getting what they deserve because we are aware that none of us deserve the grace of Christ.  It also inclines us to be respectful of poor Christian believers as our brothers and sisters in Christ, people from whom we can learn. The gospel alone can produce a humble respect for and solidarity with the poor.
In James 1:9-10, the poor Christian "ought to take pride in his high position" but the rich Christian "should take pride in his low position, because he will pass away like a wild flower."  Here James is using the gospel on his listeners' class-consciousness. Everyone in Christ is at the same time a sinner who deserves death and also an adopted child of God, fully accepted and loved. But James proposes that the well-off believer would spiritually benefit by thinking about his or her sinfulness before God, since out in the world he or she gets a lot of acclaim. The poor believer, however, would spiritually benefit by thinking about his or her new high spiritual status, since out in the world he or she gets nothing but disdain.
~Tim Keller, Center Church, p51
Though Keller is here describing how the Gospel can tear down accusations of class among believers it pushed my mind to thinking how this could possibly also be an effective way of communicating the Gospel to those who don't know it.

Those who are poor, lost in their sin, recognise their life is a mess and are searching for an answer to the gaping whole in their lives don't need to be overly convinced of how their sin would tear down a relationship with God.  They live it... they get it... so as we share the Gospel with them we highlight His forgiveness and how Jesus' new life will lift them to a high spiritual position as adopted sons of God.

But the majority of people in our Australian churches each week fit more into the profile of the 'rich Christian'... in that they live the life I was pondering in my last post...
But for so many in the world today, especially young people, it seems that they just don't find any need for Jesus. In a world where you don't get bored because there's always something to do or watch. You don't get lonely because you can always connect with someone via social media (no matter how superficial). You don't go without because credit cards allows us to have everything now.
What Makes Jesus a Necessity 
...for these people should our focus on presenting the Gospel weigh more heavily on the idea of people's sinfulness before God.  Show that even with everything they have, they have nothing before God without Jesus. In the wider idea of the church in modern society people would want to present a more positive message, especially expecting a Youth Pastor to preach hope to teens more than the despair of sin, but does that not just feed the 'I am ok' lie that the majority of the Australian population believers?

Do we as Pastors need to present the hopelessness and sinfulness we have in our standing before God for the spiritual benefit of the rich (which are the majority in our churches), so we can take pride in our low position because we more clearly see the necessity of faith in Jesus?

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