I was talking to Dena the other day over coffee, and we were talking about how the gospel we were presented as kids was so watered down. It was more of a pee-for-a-peanut scenario. A plea for the worm to one day get his wings so that "we, the church" can feel better about there being one less creepy-crawly on the planet.
I heard, "Jesus stands at the door and knocks. If you let Him in, you get to go to heaven! But if you don't, well... you'll probably end up with the mark of the beast on your forehead following zombies through the bread line in the End Days. Or hell if you die before that. So open the door, ok?" The "Jesus = Get out of Jail Free" gospel.
The thing that is so deceiving about that theology is that it's half true. God is love. Jesus did die that we might be made right with the Creator and eventually be reunited with him. The alternative does, in fact, smell of sulfur. But there is so much more to the story.
In Matthew 10:34, Jesus says, "Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword."
What?! What about hark the herald angels sing "Peace on Earth, good will toward men!" That's a Jesus/Christmasy song, right?
Ultimately, Christ will reign supreme and bring peace to planet Earth. He died a sinless man so that he would have the legal right to rip authority out of the hands of the accuser and restore Eden on Earth.
But I am finally seeing the other half of the gospel of the Christ. When I said "yes" to becoming a disciple of Christ, I joined an epic struggle that has been raging since before Genesis 1:1. A battle line was drawn in the sand, and at the tender age of five years old, I picked a team, and enlisted myself in the service of the Warrior King.
Isaiah 49:1-2 has become my life verse:
"Before I was born the Lord called me;
from my birth he has made mention of my name.
He made my mouth like a sharpened sword,
in the shadow of his hand he hid me;
he made me into a polished arrow
and concealed me in his quiver."
I stayed passive for a long time, allowing our enemy to walk all over, in, and through my life, wreaking havoc, and almost killing me. But in the last year, my Father God has taught me to take up the Shield of Faith, raise the double-edged sword of His Word, and battle for my soul and the souls of others. An informed disciple of Jesus Christ is not a weird, churchy, judgmental, legalistic, fake, happy happy, flake. And I don't follow some long robed, solemn, gentle, whispery, martyr.
Get to know the real Christ. Find out what He was really doing here on Earth and what He's doing now. And find out what your role is in this epic story. He has invited us all to be a part of the greatest, most victorious, most powerful warring faction that has ever existed. He has invited us to a life of triumph and assurance. And it's a fantastic adventure.
"Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms."