We are back on campus as of today for all of our regularly scheduled meetings. Please continue to discern whether you and your families still need to observe physical distancing. We are taking the necessary sanitization precautions on campus.
It is easy to be friendly with others. Saying what we think, especially concerning the Gospel, is difficult because we don’t want to be judged and we don’t want others to feel like we are judging them. The ability to have difficult, meaningful conversation is nearly lost on our society, but have these difficult, meaningful discussions we must. Continue reading below.
This month, we are relaunching our on-campus gatherings. Because of a continuing concern about COVID-19, our lunch series and meal-share ministry will not begin until June 14. We will begin recording our church members’ testimonies again. Please contact us to set up a time for your interview.
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It is easy to be friendly with others. Saying what we think, especially concerning the Gospel, is difficult because we don’t want to be judged and we don’t want others to feel like we are judging them. The ability to have difficult, meaningful conversation is nearly lost on our society, but have these difficult, meaningful discussions we must.
A week or so ago, I shared something on Facebook. Most of what I hear about the Gospel in our community is entirely works-based, even so much so that someone from another prominent church was condemning other churches for postponing their gatherings as fearful and in direct contradiction to God’s Law (Cf. Hebrews 10:24-25). Virtually every church other than her own was dishonoring God and did not fear God like her church did. Behind this sort of mentality is an entirely works-based, or legalistic, theology of salvation- a false Gospel. My heart has been broken about the presence of this false legalistic Gospel since I arrived in Sunsites. I tried for more than a year to have a conversation with the pastor of this church, which I will leave unnamed here. He only ever replied by informing me that he would not allow his church people to associate with us because he didn’t want to expose his people to that stuff. After months of heart wrenching prayer, I finally had a heart rightly broken enough to say something. I received three types of responses: (1) Some people were malicious and accusatory because I had the nerve to address something I saw as wrong, (2) some people reacted harshly because they had been hurt by the church and my observations triggered them, and (3) some people desired to have a sincere conversation about the true nature of the Gospel. The reaction I got proves that we need a broader conversation about Christ Gospel and false gospels floating around in our own context. I will be having more public conversations and inviting other pastors and religious leaders in our community to join me.
Jesus had to publicly criticize legalistic religion. In one instance, people were referring to Him as a Law-breaker because He practiced His liberty in eating and drinking. In a very public way, Jesus pointed out the incoherence of their legalistic teaching. John the Baptist neither ate grapes nor drank wine or strong drink; people accused him of having a demon. Jesus came eating grapes and drinking wine and strong drink; people accused Him of being a glutton and a drunkard (Cf. Matthew 11:16-19). No matter what we say or how we live, worldly people will find fault. Just as Jesus had to deconstruct the false theology of the First Century in order to show the beauty of grace, so too must we if we desire others know the true Gospel. This is one reason Jesus said that He did not come to bring peace but a sword (Matthew 10:42, in the context of Jesus sending His disciples on a short-term mission trip to Galilee).
After noticing actual problems with the world, injustices, crooked politics, and false Gospels, there is a way to say something. Notice Jesus’s method as you read through the Gospels. He logically considered the content of a teaching or claim against the Scriptures. He reasoned with people considering the content in a non-malicious way. Sometimes He even exercised His just anger. Absent from His timeline would be those political memes maligning or caricaturing one politician or party. Absent from His feed would be the assumptions and ad hominem finger. Instead, He exposed the content of someone’s message, revealed its inconsistencies, and compared it to Scripture. We can make fun of someone all day, and no one will listen even if they really are wrong. We can evaluate the content, though, and the whole world will see and react in one of the three ways I described.
If you desire to serve others and share Christ’s Gospel, remember that we are in a specific context (see video below). When the Gospel is shared in any community, it rubs and clashes against all of the different and disparate propositions that are present. Be as sly as serpents and as innocent as doves.
– Your servant and friend, Andrew Cannon, lead elder