It is easy for the Christian faith to become a set of propositions. To paraphrase a recent Russ Moore quotation, God can become a side to an argument, a conclusion, and not a living being. We can easily fall into mere assent to doctrine and fail to embrace God as a presence in our midst. In short, we can lose sight of the beauty of God and see only the dim outline of His presence.
We do this when we fail to understand the world-changing nature of the gospel and the Christian faith. Our preaching can easily become dry and flat. Our evangelism becomes a simple good-bad proposition–hell-bad, God-good–and our lives become either Pharisaical or amoral. Isn’t that what happens when the gospel becomes merely a statement? You end up in one of two places, it seems to me. Either you make the Bible’s commands–which call us to holiness and are intended to show what the gospel life looks like–demands, or you cast off all constraints and live as if the gospel doesn’t really matter. The way we present the gospel, no, the way we think about the gospel and then present the gospel, closely relates to the way we live.
Too many of us live normal, ordinary, boring lives that show no dread of hell and no delight in God. Too few of us have an eye for beauty and a care for imagination. We have been given a calm, boiled-down, watery gospel, and we live listless lives as a result. It is my contention that we need to restore the power of the gospel in our thinking and presentation. If the gospel is a great neon sign proclaiming the way to heaven, we need to turn the sign on, to light it up, and show the world that we do not follow dogma. We follow a risen Lord, a conquering Christ, and He has reached down and rescued us from the face of horror and lifted us to heights of world-shattering glory. That is our message. When we believe this, perhaps then we will be able to live a beautiful life, an odd life, a transcendent life that calls out to all who witness it to see and believe.