Saturday, April 28, 2012

A heavy gospel ...

Over the last few weeks, there have been many philosophical and theological conversations happening in our house. I am beginning to wonder if I have wandered into an episode of the Twilight Zone. 
As we dig deeper into the lives of the people around us, as we discover more and more about Guatemalan culture; we are learning, growing, questioning, and being challenged.  After a year and a half, we still get culture shock. Lately, we have been shocked by the “gospel”.

You see, the gospel has been here for over 500 years when the Spanish brought Catholicism to Central America. The Evangelical Protestants have been here for over 100 years. The legacy they have left is what I call a “Gospel Plus Theology.” In other words, the {gospel + ___________ = salvation.} You can fill in the blank with any number of legalistic rules, good works or false teachings. (i.e. no drinking, no smoking, no secular music, pray harder, go to church more often, have more faith, etc.)
The Joshua Project lists Guatemala as a reached nation. Yet, Guatemala is plagued with social, economic and spiritual problems. Poverty, crime, and broken families are pandemic across this nation. Where is the transformation and freedom that the gospel promises? 
The problem with a “Gospel Plus Theology” is that it makes me responsible in some way for saving, rescuing, healing or blessing my own life. If I do “X,” then God will do “Y.” For those already beaten down by poverty, hopelessness, and powerlessness, the burden of the {gospel + anything} is too much. 
It reminds me of a song by Casting Crowns - “What this World needs”
“We can’t strap ourselves to the gospel
because we’re slowing it down
Jesus is going to save the world
But maybe the best thing we can do
is just get out of the way.
What this world needs,
is a Savior who will rescue,
A Spirit who will lead
a Father who will love them 
in their time of need” 
This has brought us a season of reflection, introspection, prayer and study. We are challenged by the weight of responsibility to handle the gospel with great care. We desire for people to know and share the freedom of life in Christ. 

I don’t have many answers or solutions for the problem. Right now we are seeking to first understand culture of Christianity here in Guatemala. We ask questions, listen and learn. We wait for the Lord to reveal the next step in bringing his truth to his people.
Jesus said, “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11: 29-30
We are compelled to carefully consider how we handle of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Are my words or actions adding to someone’s burden? Does it bring freedom and the abundant life? Does it bring rest to the soul? Or does it steal joy and peace? If it weighs us down, I’m not sure it’s from Christ.
What about you? Do you feel weighed down by the gospel or does your soul find rest in Christ alone?

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