Tuesday, November 27, 2012
My Perfection Problem
My friend looked up at me, winced and said, "Are you ready to go through the Gospel presentation video script? I hear it's really shitty." I smiled and nodded enthusiastically, and not just because I enjoy hearing swear-words. I'd just read the script and it really was bad.
Here's why: The video script we had been given to review was based in a coffee house where too young women, one Christian and one not, have a discussion about what Christianity is all about. So far so good, even if it is cliche. But then as we read we noticed that when the Christian began to share the gospel she sounded like a robot. Surely she can't have hardly believed what she was sharing, even if she was fictional.
She talked about how a perfect God loves us, how sin cuts us off from this perfect God, how Jesus bridges the gap to God by his perfect death, and how we can receive God's perfect gift if we pray a prayer (it was probably a perfectly scripted prayer as well). "Perfect," I was thinking, "all we need are more perfect gospel presentations about perfection."
God didn't offer Jesus up to suffer his wrath and essential hell for us because he simply wanted us to be morally perfect! Jesus wasn't God's formula for perfection, as if God was a divine perfectionist.
This reminds me of a radio commercial I hear all the time. It goes something like this: "Have you ever done anything wrong? No? How about the time you took that paper-clip from the office? Did you know that stealing is a transgression against God's holy and perfect law? Did you know that any offense cuts you off from the perfect and holy God?"
Really!? So you can go to hell for paper-clip stealing?!
Is Christianity such a petty religion, is the gospel so truncated, that the best we can do to describe our rebellion and hatred towards God is paper-clips? Is the gospel about being perfect?
Yes the gospel is about being perfect. It says so in my Bible. But it's also about so much more. I believe that the gospel is primarily relational.
Here's my short take, if I have to make one without the time to go into explaining Israel: God created us as his beloved children. Satan tempted us to mistrust and disbelieve in God's love, so we rebelled and went our own way. So God, being the extremely merciful and loving type that he is, put in action the bravest rescue attempt known to mankind. He put his life on the line for us, so that we would not only know his love and enter in to it, but have something like the cross to point to whenever we are tempted to doubt it again.
So the gospel is not primarily about moral perfection. If that's all it is, we might as well just say "Thanks God," and be on our merry way. No the gospel, I believe, is about God showing a perfectly unbalanced love towards us.
Paul above said it was because God was "pleased" with him that he revealed Jesus to him. I can't think of one perfectly good reason God would do that. Why reveal Jesus to someone who murders Jesus followers?
Was it just so Paul could have a perfect record and think of himself as sinless? No, I believe Paul's life reveals a much deeper motivation than that - namely the very fact that God was pleased with him and wanted him, even though he was a sinner.