A thought has been brewing in my mind for some time now and it has bothered me. The thought isn’t fully thought out, so I am attempting to write it out.
There has been so much focus on the American Church. One end of the spectrum is that America needs to repent and return to being a Christian nation. The church isn’t doing what it is supposed to do, let’s focus in on us making disciples, lets focus on doing good works, lets do life together, lets be the church. While I know much of these thoughts, tag lines, and slogans have come out of good intentions, and while I have said many of these phrases myself (and quite honestly I believed in them), I felt something was still off.
A phrase from this past summer kept coming to mind as I would say or read any book or blog, talk to a friend, read my bible, and even pray. It questioned my motivations and my heart. It hit something deeper than just miffed theology or an everyday epiphany.
The thought: Jesus did not come just to save you.
And I couldn’t figure out why…I went back and revisited all of the big phases and movements in the church right now. Why was this so difficult for me to swallow? How does this even connect?
Without knowing it and without intending to I think we have made the Gospel about US (us as in collectively and the United States).
Jesus died to save you, while their may be some truth to that, I think we tend to take it too far. Has this deep root of individualism and Americanism sunk so far into our theology that we don’t even recognize it? Do we recognize it? That’s a serious question. And when we do see the error of our individualism, that the realization drives us to “do something.” So we go… we do… we be…to try and convince ourselves that our intentions are right that our motives are pure, that we are really not caught up in our own self. I think we do a good job of it. We do a great job at convincing ourselves that if we could just be more focused on discipleship, more intentional, more devoted then we can change this great big problem–Christianity in America isn’t what it once was. But the truth is…
The Gospel isn’t about US it’s about God.
God is…God was…and God always will be…God does…God did…and God will always do… Are we so wrapped up in who God is and the Gospel of what He did, that what naturally comes out of us is HIM? That they don’t see us, but see God?
We cannot work, disciple, love, or be good enough. But we don’t have to…
The great thing is…it’s not a Gospel of US and what we do…it’s a Gospel of God and what He did.
Until we get that, we will always have an identity crisis. We will be wrapped up in our actions. We will be caught up in the meaningless things of this world.
When we get that it is not about us and about God, we will care more about what His Church looks like than what our nation looks like. We will be more concerned with the depth of the change, than the amount. We will care more about others and their needs, than our own. Lastly, we will so caught up in God’s glory that actions such as go, do, and be, result out of awe and love that we don’t even see US, but the Kingdom.
As Americans, we always try to go “do something.” We have that mentality that we can just pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps and fix this problem. We cannot fix it on our own. We cannot write our own Gospel. The true reality may be that God’s plan is bigger than Christianity in America. I say, “may be” but in fact I absolutely believe this is true. God did not come just to save you. He did not just come to save the United States. He came, so that the whole world may know Him and His love. He came to reconciled humankind to Himself. We are to be so consumed, in this Gospel of the Creator’s love of His creation, to take it to the world. Instead, we have made it a Gospel of US and it has been our downfall.