What does God really care about? That is something that I have been thinking about for the past few weeks. This morning a Facebook friend sent around this quote from Christian scholar Scot McKnight;
“Atonement didn’t drive the conversations or ministry of Jesus. It’s not just college students encountering the Gospels of the New Testament for the first time that begin to wonder about the Gospel that they grew up under and to which they responded but doesn’t seem to be at all what Jesus is on about.
He talks Kingdom, they talk getting saved. He talks eternal life, they talk going to heaven. He talks Messiah, King, and Lord, they talk Savior. He talks follow me, they talk receive me into your heart.”
I’m one of those guys he’s talking about. I’ve realized the “gospel” I grew up under did not have a lot in common with what Jesus actually focused on.
As I pondered more, a thought came to me…
It’s kind of ironic that so many Christians are against the Harry Potter books because of the magic involved when we tend to create so much magic within Christianity ourselves.
Take for example salvation; we’ve taken the gospel message that invites broken and hurting people into a new life, with citizenship in a new kingdom, and twisted it into a magical incantation that is often numbly repeated after an “evangelistic service”.
So we spend a lot of time and effort getting people to say “sinner’s prayers”…which have effectively become the “magic words” that transforms people from “darkness to light” and “unsaved” to “saved”… or to use Harry Potter verbiage, from the “muggle world” (regular people) to the “wizard world.”
Then there is prayer, that gift of God that forms us and molds us into his likeness through relationship with him. We often end up taking that beautiful gift and contorting it into some magic spell that is designed to get God to shape the world around us into an environment more beneficial to ourselves. Christians use God, wizards use wands, but the motivations can be the same.
Even the way many in the church treat others who are not Christians is quite like how the wizard world treats the muggle world in Harry Potter. Many wizards despise the muggles, most ignore them, some express interest and curiosity, but they all participate in an “us”/ “them” dichotomy that keeps “us” operating in a separate culture from “them” while all living in the same country.
Now don’t get me wrong, I am very appreciative of a lot of my church upbringing…but probably would not do a lot of it the same way again going forward. As we do move forward though it’s important we don’t trash all that went on before. If anything, I believe it is part of the process that is producing a “Bride without spot or blemish”
And I do think any critiques have to be done in respect for people and, in some cases, “systems” that have gone before.
But changes do have to be made!
Which means a church caring more with what Jesus cared about…