A friend of mine once said the “Gospel” we preach today is the reason why so many people are at a loss with the Church. It’s the reason why so many of us are struggling with depression, anxiety, gender identity, and why once-famous Christians are walking away. Maybe. I think everyone believes that their “Gospel” is the right one. I think everyone thinks that if everyone just got their “Gospel” then the world would change and BAM! Jesus comes back and all is well with the world. The problem with thinking like that is that even in the midst of biblical Christianity, the Apostles had a lot of crap to deal with. Life didn’t get better for them, it got worse. They had hope in Jesus, but in their immediate set of circumstances, the Church was killed and ostracised for being a cult and for rebelling against the State (the Roman Empire). I’m now half a world away and two thousand years into the future. There might not be a Roman Empire per se, but mental health issues, social and educational persecution, the prosperity Gospel, liberalism and a swath of issues are on the front lines of the Church’s Western Front. Principalities and powers indeed.
Not only that but more than ever in the history of humanity information and in turn philosophical and scientific theories are spreading like wildfire. You can walk into one room full of ten people with vastly different perspectives and get ten different definitions on the meaning of life and how it should be lived. Even among Christians, I’ve rarely met any two people who could agree on what it even means to be Christian. We all say yes and amen at “love thy neighbour,” but what it actually means to do that looks completely different to whoever it is your talking to.
Personally, as I venture down the black hole that is theological and philosophical thought, I find myself, in my strive for wisdom, in a constant inner war between two primary concepts; meaninglessness and purpose (found in Christ). I find myself very much at home with the existentialist or even the authour of Ecclesiastes. There is a realness to life I think we all try to avoid. We all wear smiles as we attempt to turn that frown upside down. It’s socially awkward to admit that life sucks. “How are you?” “Yeah, good” or “not bad” is our autoresponse. Life slaps us in the face when a loved one dies or a tragedy befalls us. Suddenly it’s ok to cry, to mourn and to hurt… yet… every one of us does that every day. There’s a beautiful dread to life that we hate admitting exists. If it weren’t for the Gospel then where would I, or any of us be?
Here’s my point to all of this. Human, get good at talking about the pain and the hurt and the despair. These are real things forming (perhaps even unwittingly) an identity inside every one of us. They take root, they form us and they make us into who we are behind the masks we all wear. Then thrust the Gospel of life into their hearts. Peel back the layers of chaos and bring the shalom each one us truly aches for. Life is beautiful but it can be more in Jesus the Messiah.
“For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: You shall love your neighbour as yourself. Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. By this, all people will know that you are my disciples if you have love for one another” (Galatians 5:14; Romans 12:9, 15; John 13:35).