Islam appeals to many people as a rational ‘way’ of getting people to conform to ‘goodness.’ It attracts some Westerners for the same reason – a system of morality with sanctions. But there is a major difference. For the Believer God’s love is already a given. For the Muslim’s love is to be earned. Well, that the difference in theory.
There are many Christians who are busy earning God’s love and earning a place in eternity. Except that’s not Jesus’ good news. His news is that God loves you, has forgiven you and will live in you to share His life with you.
A FALSE REASONABLENESS
Islam and Christianity have been called religions of the book. This is not so with Christianity in reality although this is what is lived by many Christians. Christianity is not a religion. Christianity is a person – the person of Jesus for you, in you and as you. Our inheritance in God is Christ our life.
‘When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory’ Among other things, this is saying that you will come into your glory as a son/daughter of God when the Christ is incarnated in your being to manifest as you. You will become a life-giver rather than a deliverer of interesting talks.
Salvation by law appeals to many. There are theologians who have preached grace – but a grace that enables folks to cope with the law as though the law is the primary reality. But it is not. The primary reality is the trustworthy nature of Father and the veracity and already accomplished fact of your sonship in God. Christ your life is the basis of you and of the Kingdom of God.
Intelligent and well educated people can be side-tracked into ‘other gospels’ that bear little relationship to the apostles teaching. If we do not know what the cross achieved for us we will be convinced of the reasonableness of ‘other gospels.’ There are Christians who are almost as embedded in legalism as are Muslims because of this.
It seems rational that there is an order that should be conformed to. And it is. But this order is the trinity to which we are brought back into relationship with by the victory of Jesus over separation, sin and death. Life and righteousness were ours before the fall entirely because we were in union with God. Life is relationship with God. Our union has been restored through the cross and our life in the Spirit. Michael Kapler writes,
“Since most people do not have a solid foundation of the gospel of grace, they are easily persuaded by various forms of legalism being poured into them over a period of many years. They have little or no idea they have been exposed to it, similar to asbestos poisoning hidden inside their own walls.
They are programmed to think a certain way about God and the Bible, and it’s a big challenge for people to change their thinking, especially when much of what they’ve been told has been held onto as a sacred and personal part of their belief system.” (1) But to change from this way to the new and living way is to be born again.
Did you know that the parable of the sower is not about the varieties of sin that can stymy ones’ life. It’s about the ways people cling to their own identities to sap themselves of spirit and life. The seed is Christ. The soil is you in your new covenant union with God. Or not.
If it is a bad move to crucify the son of God anew, then it is also unwise to promote a lesser christ and a lesser gospel and an identity that goes with it. There’s no room in the Kingdom for an extra-Jesus identity.
NARROW AND WIDE WAY
We are entitled to our views on how we will express Christ. We are never entitled to another gospel. If we do we are talking tares. Should we promote our own version of Christ – a lesser christ who lives from the law or one who supervises the knowledge of good and evil, we are perverting Christ, distorting His gospel and fostering the belief that any deviant perspective is legitimate. Of course it is not. This is the warning inherent in the parable of The Sower and The Tares. Let’s not persists in the fiction that what we purvey is a legitimate perspective when it is in fact a different gospel.
PEOPLE OF THE KINGDOM
‘The field is the world, and the good seed stands for the people of the kingdom. The weeds are the people of the evil one’ Matt 13.38 NIV.
We have an identity in Christ as sons of God. By adding extra-Jesus identities we dilute our spirit of sonship and compromise our belonging in The Body. The people of the Kingdom are the people of the Kingdom. Not the people of the evil one. We do not need to be immoral or wicked to be these people. We just need to be adherents of another gospel.
But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God's curse! Gal 1.8 NIV. What is the curse of God. It’s really a self-curse because its living in separation when our inheritance is union with God.
We are not entitled to walk in our own gospel and a self-made identity. We have one husband, which makes all others illegitimate. Paul warned that people could curse themselves by adopting ‘other gospels.’ How do we become blind leaders of the blind and associates of those who cannot see? By inertia, a subtle pride, exposure to life-long indoctrination and intellectual laziness. It’s unfortunate for us and those we influence if we have never examined the truthfulness of our beliefs. Are they an expression of the truth of God or are they houses built on sand? The pure in heart will see God and the pure in heart will know the truth that sets them free.
(1) Kapler, Michael C.. Clash Of The Covenants: Escaping Religious Bondage Through The Grace Guarantee (Kindle Locations 189-193). Kindle Edition.