Thursday, November 1, 2007

"Aim at Heaven...."

InterVarsity has published a book by James Choung, True Story: A Christianity Worth Believing In. The IV description of the book includes this:
Caleb has been a Christian for a long time. But he realizes that he can't bring himself to share his faith with anyone because it doesn't sound like good news anymore. Christianity's truth claims come across as hollow, arrogant and intolerant. Christians have a bad track record of hating and condemning those they disagree with. Worst of all, it feels like Christianity is just about "saving souls," giving people an escape ticket to heaven while the world falls apart. Is it only about Jesus forgiving our sins? There must be more to it than that...
The author has prepared a presentation [pdf] and a video [see below] demonstrating what he apparently believes is a more effective and attractive gospel.

Stand to Reason finds this approach inadequate:

InterVarsity is trying to correct the next-world focus it sees in Evangelicalism by replacing it with a focus on this world, but both of these miss the mark. We ought to be God-focused. If God is the central focus of our lives, it makes sense that the most important part of the message we give to others would be forgiveness and reconciliation with Him. Our good works flow out of that reconciliation as a way to glorify God "so that the grace which is spreading to more and more people may cause the giving of thanks to abound to the glory of God." God (our thanks for and our praise of Him) is always the focus whenever we are exhorted to do good in the New Testament.

So when I see Gospel presentations where Jesus seems to be promoted as the best means to an end (in this case, a good society) as one who "taught us a better way to live" and provides us with the Holy Spirit so we can have the "resources" we need to "join his movement to heal the planet," where He is not The Way, but instead He's the way to a utopian society, I see a group of people more focused on this world than on God.

Not only is this a tragic loss as people miss the most central point of being a Christian, but I honestly believe that this view can't sustain itself. If we focus on God, we are empowered and moved to serve others as we glorify Him in thanks and become merciful as He is merciful. If we focus on serving others as the end goal, we dishonor God and lose the sustaining relationship, power, and purpose that caused us to to serve others in the first place. Just as C.S. Lewis said, "Aim at heaven and you will get earth thrown in. Aim at earth and you get neither."
Stand to Reason Blog: Jesus' Message

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