Has Western Christianity missed the point of the Gospel? / A.J. Hendry

I sometimes wonder if Western culture hasn’t tamed the revolutionary nature of the Gospel.

Having spiritualized our gospel, we have created a nice, safe, comfortable version of Christianity, more concerned with how to prepare one’s inner person for the after life, than addressing what’s going on in this one.

And so, we have become a people more focused on the chasing the ideals Western culture, then living out the dangerous and radical inplications of the gospel message.

We hear of Christian’s abroad, putting their lives at risk, in order to live their faith, and we are inspired enough to pray for them.

Thank God our lives aren’t at risk.

Thank God we can openly worship on a Sunday. Thank God we’re safe.

But, why are we safe?

Is it perhaps because we have traded Jesus’ invitation to follow him for the comfort and security of the Western dream?

I think so.

Now I’m not suggesting – as some might be thinking – that we need to stand on every street corner, and beat people to a pulp with our Bible’s, that’s not the sort of change I think is needed (I also think there’s more then enough of that already).

No, what I’m getting at is far more dangerous, perhaps even more radical then that.

Jesus invited us to follow him, I wonder what would happen if we took that invitation seriously.

What would happen if we actually joined Jesus in the work of the Kingdom?

Jesus’ invitation is the invitation to join Him on the margins of society. It is an invitation to participate in the work God is doing here on earth to redeem and restore His creation.
It is the work of the Kingdom.
And it is not safe, nor is it easy.
To follow Jesus here in the West, requires sacrifice.

We live in a bubble of individualism, we believe on one level that our lives are all about us. Our job, our future, our career, our family. Sure we will go to church on Sunday, and give 10% (hmm maybe 15%) of our income to some charity, but at the end of the day, we don’t want our faith to be all too disruptive to our lives.

And that’s the problem.

If you are going to follow Jesus, your life will be disrupted.

Sell all your possessions, give to those in need, forgive your enemy, lay down your sword, Jesus calls us to a life centred upon service and sacrifice.

The Way of Love is not an easy road to follow.

It is hard, and it will be dangerous.
You and I are called to serve the most vulnerable in our society. To join the neglected, the vulnerable and the oppressed.

There are homeless in our city. We’ve been called to house them.

There are poor in our community, Jesus invites us provide for them.

There are refugees seeking asylum, we are to grant them refuge.

None of this is safe. Nor is it easy.

In fact by the world’s standards it’s not even smart.

But, it is the path of Love.

And it is the road that Jesus walks.

You see when Jesus says pick up your cross and follow me, he did so because he knew the journey would be dangerous.

Getting involved in the fight for justice will cost you.

It may result in loss of respect or social standing in your community. It may require you to vote for policies and politicians that go against your own interests, yet will benefit the poor.

It may mean that you open your home to people, and they hurt you, steal from you, perhaps even threaten the comfort and security we have come to enjoy.

But, the thing is, if you want to follow Jesus, this isn’t an optional extra. It is the whole point of the gospel.

Come, follow me, is the Masters invitation.

It is not safe.

It is not easy.

It is not simple.

It will cost you everything.

But, in the sacrifice there is freedom.

Freedom from the demands of Self, from our Western gods of Consumerism and Individualism.
Freedom to Love, and in return to be Loved.

Jesus has extended to us the invitation.

We alone can make the decision to join him.

Will we take up our cross, and join Him on the margins?

Or will we walk away?

A.J. Hendry

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