The more I speak with people the more I am realizing with greater awareness that folks just don't really understand the gospel. I'm not slamming people for being ignorant. I'm not calling people stupid. I'm not talking only about people who are outside of the visible church.
I'm seeing more and more in people that aspect of our fallen nature that believes we must contribute something to our salvation. For some it is just the moral piece of the puzzle that they want to straighten out. For others it is a return to some religious practice that they experienced growing up as a child. It seems to much to first believe that Jesus really did do everything required for our salvation.
Intuitively non-Christians understand that worshiping the one true God instead of themselves and all of their other life-long idols will result in a different agenda for their week. They will do some new things and abandon other activities and thought patters that used to take up space on their weekly schedule. In short, they will increasingly take on the God's character in all that they think, say, and do. But it seems as though that is where we want to go first. In the middle of a desperate search for peace we grasp for something we can do.
Maybe this will help make the point. Often in our search for peace with God we look like someone trying to learn how to line dance in the country-western bar. We see the moves that happy, peaceful people are making. We want to be happy; we want peace, so we begin trying to pick up their steps. We assume that their attitude and outlook must be related to their dancing. The only problem is that Christians who really get the gospel didn't start with the moves. Rather they first heard the music. Someone else played music that brought their dead and depressed bodies to life. Their dance steps are in response to music. Dancing doesn't make music come out of the speaker. Music makes us dance.
How I pray that people in our community will begin to hear the music of the gospel. I am trying with all my might to communicate that reality to people who see what we do as a Christian community. If they only see our moves, but never hear our music then we will never bring an ounce of real hope to Vegas. Rather, we will only push people back into their previous religious experiences where they will labor in despair and restlessness in a dead-end search for peace and an assurance that God is for them.
I'm off to play more music.