the center of the gospel

I’ve been reading a new book lately called The Explicit Gospel, by Matt Chandler. If there’s one thing about Matt Chandler, it’s that he’s bold in speaking truth and doesn’t fluff up the gospel. He gives it to you exactly as it was given.

One quote that’s been sort rolling around in my head a few days is this:

“One of the dangers of a gospel that stays on the ground too long is man-centeredness. The idea, for instance, that “the Bible is God’s love letter to you” has a kernel of truth to it, but it is illustrative of how easily we trade the centrality of God’s glory for the centrality of our need.”

Ouch.

I’ve really thought about that a lot. How guilty we are of often putting ourselves at the center of the gospel. We sing songs and preach sermons about the love of God that somehow focus more on us than on Him. How does that happen?

Well since you asked, here’s what I think.

I think that we’ve dulled the glory of God in the eyes of man.

We’ve made God all lovey dovey and romantic like He’s peering over the edge of heaven all doe-eyed watching over His precious children’s every move because He just can’t tear Himself away. (Because it is all about us, right?)

We’ve also made Him boring.

With all the added fluff and fancy light shows in churches every weekend, we’ve implied to congregations that God all by Himself is boring and that the gospel needs a little help to make it interesting enough for people to care. People must be entertained or else they won’t come to church, right? I mean the gospel is great and all, but we’ve got to do something to entice people, right?

And there we are at the center again. Man in the middle. Man’s needs. Man’s wants. Man’s desires. Man’s tastes.

Let me tell you something. The gospel is beautiful and amazing and awesome exactly as it is and with God absolutely in the very center of it.

And from the beginning, the gospel alone has been enough to change hearts and draw men to God.

I think too often we forget that. Churches spend Monday through Friday in a bazillion meetings planning every little detail. Quirky little skits are created, catchy little slogans are thought up. There’s videos and handouts and there’s stage decor and props, and all this so that church goers can come in and have a worship experience.

But worship isn’t supposed to be an experience.

It’s supposed to be an offering lifted up to a holy God.

You don’t experience worship.

You offer it and God receives it.

I don’t know. Maybe I’m being too hard on churches.

I know that much of what goes on is done with the intent of providing an atmosphere where people can come in and meet with God. I know that for the most part, the heart behind the effort is pure.

But there is a bit of pride in there too, isn’t there? Because somehow we think that if we show the right emotionally charged videos, that if we can have enough ambient music and funky lighting…oh and smoke – don’t forget the smoke…that we can create an environment where man is moved to worship God.

But that’s all wrong. In our efforts at planning worship (which is a complete oxymoron really. How exactly does one plan worship anyway?), we’ve ended up putting ourselves right at the center of it again. We did it. We created it. We made the space for God to be worshipped.

Is that arrogant or what?

Sometimes I truly wonder what God thinks about church nowadays.

And I wrestle with that a lot.

How about you?

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