One of the things I’ve learned about people is that we like to skirt around important questions. The more crucial and foundational a topic is, the less comfortable we are talking about it. It’s one of the consequences of the superficial, pseudo-pluralistic thing that passes as “tolerance” nowadays.
And here was my old friend from college, someone I continue to admire and respect, telling me about a ministry of his that I had very big doubts about. Trying to cut to the root issue, I asked him, “Would you say that the ministry is gospel-centered? Does everything you do point people back to Jesus Christ, what He did on the cross, and what it means to live for His kingdom?”
He paused, unsure of what to say. “Well, the ministry is really more about healing….” I knew where this was going, and it was not good.
Why Evangelicals Can Never Take the Gospel for Granted
A very troubling trend among evangelicals is our taking for granted the foundational truths of Christianity.
To say that we are by-and-large “distracted” from God’s purposes is to state things very lightly. “Insubordination” is probably a more accurate description.
Insubordination happens when soldiers ignore their commanding officer’s orders. Insubordination is when servants start living as if they have no master.
Insubordination is what Christians do when we minimize or ignore our Lord’s teachings and directives so we can go do our own thing.
What does this look like today? Christians join hands with representatives of false churches to carry out ‘ministry’ in the name of Jesus Christ, but at what cost? For the sake of peace many are agreeing to minimize the gospel of Christ.
Often, this is done in the name of love. Love for people who have different convictions than we do. Love for those who have for a long time been outside the reach of churches. I think I understand. I hope I know where these desires are coming from.
As beings made in the image of God, it should be unthinkable for us to be apathetic towards the plight of our fellow image-bearers. As fallen creatures living in a fallen world, it’s easy for us to sympathize with those who are suffering the consequences of sin. As sinners redeemed only by the grace of God, we should be quick to extend grace to those who are still enslaved to sin. It’s right for us, as representatives of Christ, to want to alleviate all forms of human suffering.
But we must never forget that while suffering is a very real problem, it is not the main problem of humanity because pleasure and comfort is not the main purpose for which God made us. God made us to glorify and enjoy Him (Isa 43:7; Rom 11:36). That’s our purpose for existence, the greatest goal that we can aspire to. So whatever undermines this purpose is the main problem that we must deal with.
According to the Bible, that problem is sin. Sin, in essence, is idolatry, because it is taking the glory and allegiance that is due God and giving it to something or someone else. As God says in Jeremiah 2:13, my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water.
The only solution to this is the gospel of salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. The message of the gospel is the only thing that can restore wayward sinners to a right relationship with God.
In short, humanity’s biggest problem is sin — not suffering.
So the best news we could receive, and the greatest hope we should aspire to, is to be restored to a right relationship with God, not to live a life of comfort and self-fulfillment. This is why we must never, never take the gospel for granted. Because the moment we do, we’re letting go of the only true hope for a fallen world.
I think it’s naive and self-defeating for Christians to meet people’s temporary needs while neglecting to meet their eternal needs.
Yes, we should have a real and deep compassion for suffering people, but a truly Christ-like compassion will never compromise God’s commands or minimize His glory. Because the moment we prioritize people over God, we dishonor the very Christ whom we claim to represent and confuse people regarding the gospel that alone can save.
Writer’s Bio: Kito Espiritu is born-again by God’s grace. Member and full-time minister of Higher Rock Christian Church. Single and complete in Christ. Dedicated to make disciples who make disciples for the glory of God in all nations. Find him at http://cross-views.blogspot.com.au/