Parents of perennial Christian families can, and do so commonly, fall guilty of selling their children a false and inadequate Gospel—one filled with the ‘blessings’ of God, but scant of the scary reality of suffering; unless by circumstances enlivened by distressing experience. (For suffering occurs indiscriminately.) (And only suffering may ignite compassion—so central to comprehending the hidden Gospel truth.)
Second and third generation Christians suffer from this lack more than the new, first generation, recently saved Christian does—the one who has come to Christ on their knees in the depths of their despair. They received Christ in the proper way, first time, because of their dire need. God got through to them by breaking them.
And then there are those who fit neither group; like yours truly. I was the first-from-the-family to become saved to Christ, yet not through suffering. It took over a decade before I connected, intrinsically, the Gospel message with the realities of my life and its obligatory power to transform my life. Until then, it was all ‘just’ good philosophy. I was still too proud to need, to fear, or to want to obey, God.
The dangerous reality of the Gospel is it may grab any of us at any time and require our very lives. This is a desperate circumstance; when the Lord invades our essential spirituality—for everyone has one. And just as Saul was broken down blind on Damascus Road, we, too, can be wrested from our blissful ignorance. We, too, can be arrested and convicted to change. Then there’s no turning back to kiss relatives goodbye or bury our dead. These are hard Gospel truths.
I went to a psychotherapist once who suggested that people who grab hold of a ‘religion’, in my case, Jesus, were clinging to a crutch much like a substance of abuse, just healthier. On one level I felt like becoming offended when I heard this. Yet a strange voice within me—perhaps the Holy Spirit—calmed my emotional judgment, allowing the suggestion to sit upon consideration.
I discovered that I did, indeed, need Jesus. But I, also, was freed to need nothing else.
If they who would see that as a weakness would do so, surely they could also see it’s the greatest, most blessed and celebrated weakness, for such a weakness quickly converts into the strength of regaling joy, unequivocal peace, and myriad virtue.
The dangerous reality of the Gospel is, when we receive it in truth, we need it; nothing else can assuage our spirits.
The True Gospel Readies Our Feet For Battle
Oh, of all the realities of life, this one stands us in the best stead. Upon many significant battles-of-the-soul our readiness can be equipped, yet never better than by the provision of the moment.
No matter our Christian heritage, whether by rich history or virginal or any between, incomprehensible strength of Spirit can be ours in a flash in the midst of paralysing loss.
The true Gospel, one advancing before us and being our simultaneous rearguard, equips us for the moment by the urgency of our need and our willingness to trust and obey. This true Gospel was built for such a day; not as much for peacetime as for war. Yet, in peacetime the Gospel is the very manifestation of heaven.
This true Gospel equips us for anything and everything.
© 2012 S. J. Wickham.