I was at the gym this morning doing my weekly Zumba routine, when I noticed the shirt that my instructor was wearing. It was kind of hard not to notice, since it was florescent pink with silver letters. On it, it said “LOVE YOUR LIFE”, in big bold letters. And in the middle of shakin’ it to a bass beat, the thought occurred to me, how do we present the Gospel to a generation that wants to enjoy life, live it to the fullest, and not escape from it?
In generations past, Christianity has always presented the Gospel and Salvation as an escape from life. We live our lives just to get through, it is miserable, we do not really want to be here, and we are told to take as many people with us as we can, so we are not responsible for them burning in hell. Sound familiar? And, to top it all off, if we do well on earth and take lots of people with us, we get a bigger mansion in heaven.
And heaven is the lap of luxury that we have never lived in. It is riches beyond imagining, food so delicious without a pound added to our frames, and whatever else we personally think is amazing. (For me, it is a quiet reading spot under a tree with a perfect 72 degrees).
But what if we already have all these things? What if, we have never lived in poverty, never been abused, mistreated, or neglected, and have never wanted for anything? What if, life is pretty good? Would the Gospel really be appealing when there is nothing we want to escape from?
Most of the Christian world see’s people like Joel Osteen and we knock him for basically being a motivational speaker, who never preaches about sin or hell. I am definitely not saying those things are not a part of the Gospel, they are, but they are not the reason for the Gospel. Over and over again the Word tells us to live Holy lives, saved and redeemed by the power of God. God did not give us life to live in the expectation of escaping from it! He gave us life to love, live, and serve others. In fact, the first two commandments tell us to do this very thing! “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your mind, and with all your strength. The second is like it, Love your neighbor as yourself,” Matthew 22:37-40. If life is to be lived in love for God and love for others, where is the escape in that?
How do we offer a Gospel based on loving God and loving others, with salvation from sin and hell being an added bonus, instead of the reason for Salvation?