A SHALLOW GOSPEL19
Galatians 1:6-7 - 6 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— 7 which is really no gospel at all.
I’m on a bit of a campaign. A battle, so to speak. It is not new. It is a battle that began in me nineteen years ago, and one I have unfortunately lost too often over the course of that time. But lately, I have felt God’s battle horn sounding deep in the recesses of my soul, stirring my lethargic faith to once again pick up the sword and go to war. And this time around, I feel it necessary – or to put it more accurately, I feel compelled – to invite you, the church, to come with me.
What is this battle you ask? Let me explain. In my Growth Group earlier this year, we were studying Galatians 1:6-7 and the question arose, “What false gospels are we prone to buy into?” It is a good question, and one worth asking regularly. The answers were as you would expect: prosperity gospel, unitarianism, secular spirituality. But my thoughts went elsewhere. To a false gospel that is harder to recognize and yet one that I think has rendered the church, particularly the American church, void of any substantive power or voice in our current fast paced, entertainment driven, digital age: a shallow gospel. A gospel that simply teaches to believe in Christ, say a prayer, attend a church service, be entertained or inspired, and go home. Nowhere in any of the Bible will you find such an experience with Christ described. Far from it. Instead, Biblical Christianity is an all encompassing personal devotion to Christ – His Teachings, His Church, His Presence, His Mission – marked by a personal following of the Holy Spirit.
Nineteen years ago I was ready to leave the Church and Christianity behind because I found it lacking. I had devoted every Sunday and Wednesday to it for the entirety of my life. Yet, aside from a few moving moments and some good friends, I didn’t really feel that interested in God. Do you hear that? I was bored. BORED WITH GOD!! In his book, Letters To The Churches, Francis Chan recounts Revelation 5:11-14 which describes the Throne Room of God and the thousands of angels and all of creation singing “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain!” (What a scene!) Chan then asks this question: “Can you imagine being in that setting and feeling bored? Feeling like you needed something more? Wishing people were being more attentive to your needs?” Everything in me says no! Of course not! And yet, after seventeen years in the church, that is exactly where I was. BORED. Why? Is it because God is boring? NO!! It's because the Christianity I was handed by loving, sweet people, was shallow!! No one taught me how to have an all consuming relationship with the Almighty. No one taught me to hear His voice. No one taught me the spiritual practices necessary to cultivate a deep relationship with God. Instead, I had been taught to sit in a service and listen and go home to try my best to be a good person who believed in Jesus. Does that sound like a person alive with the power of the Holy Spirit? No! It sounds like a bored teenager ready to walk away from a God who is far deeper and more alive than I could have ever fathomed. No one had taught me to swim in those deep waters!
But our God is gracious beyond measure! And in the summer of 2001 he pursued me and blessed me with a profound peek into His greatness. I had what I can only describe as a life altering encounter with the God of Ages. I realized in that moment that it was not God who was boring and shallow, it was the shallow gospel I had believed. So I began a journey to learn how to have a true, deep relationship with God. How to seek Him and hear His voice. And along the way I have discovered many who have been ready to leave Christianity behind because it offered little of real substance – which cannot be further from the truth!
But I have also discovered many more who are walking with Christ in deep, awe and love filled relationships. And they have and are becoming my mentors, near and far, on pages of books and in person. It is my desire through this blog and other endeavors to fight against the shallow gospel of our age by teaching spiritual practices for a deeper relationship with God, and I’d like for you to join me. Start here and now with reflection around these questions:
- How regularly do you connect with God on a deep, spiritual level?
- If you listen closely with your soul, do you hear God calling you to experience more of Him?
- Has your pursuit and relationship with God become routine and boring and shallow? If so, what has led to this state?
- Are you willing to change your regular life routines and schedules in order to cultivate a deeper relationship with God?