I think David Fitch could well be onto something here. I like this bloke and the way he thinks and writes. Read on…
Can the gospel be too big? For some of us in the missional church movement, this question borders on heresy. We regularly caution that the gospel is not only about what Jesus can do for me. It is primarily about the transformation of our very way of life into God’s mission for the world. We resist any temptation to turn the gospel into anything that might be too “user friendly.” The mission of God (missio Dei), so we proclaim, must be all-encompassing, and we must become participants in it.
Yet for all the good in this approach, there may be another heresy beneath the surface. For in protecting the bigness of the gospel, we risk making the Christian life inaccessible to those outside of it. As a result, amid the current swell of appreciation for missio Dei theology in American churches, and the outcries against a gospel that has become too small, I find myself concerned about the ways we may unintentionally be making the gospel too big.
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Too “big” too “small”???? I don’t understand. Is this a question of quantity versus quality? Big as in enough of the gospel to go around? or Big as in too expensively out of reach to be available to everybody?
I just read his post yesterday and I have been processing this. I think he is right, but something I have learned over the course of reaching those outside the faith is this: I think we are often guilty of projecting a level of religious commitment that is beyond first generation Christ followers. We have to allow people to follow Jesus as they are able. We are living and ministering in a post Christian world, and overcoming it in the lives of post Christian people is a significant challenge in itself. We are enamored by the first century followers who had intense training and commitment and changed the world. But we can’t expect outsiders to necessarily have the same level of scriptural education and commitment that we admire and seek. Jesus always met people at their level. He constantly painted the “big picture,” but accepted them where they were. We need to offer people the whole pie, but they need to ingest it one slice at a time. I think the change and commitment we seek for others will come in time, but only as we patiently extend them grace and forgiveness as much as necessary. (at least 490 times on average) 🙂
What has your experience been?
Sojourner – by too big he is meaning a gospel that is expansive and holistic rather than simply a focus on salvation of souls. It is about a recreating of all things. But in the process we possibly make this too dificult for people to grasp.
I understand. This falls in with some of my thinking in regard to these issue (I think). Is the “big gospel” difficult to grasp because of its mystery, because of individual perspective, or a combination of the two? Doesn’t this tie in with your evangilist? Don’t we all have different “smaller” stories which fit into the “bigger” gospel story? Perhaps we can’t comprehend the “bigger” story because our “smaller” stories naturally cloud our perspect for the bigger picture. Perhaps this applies to individual perspective and collective perspect. Just asking questions to better digest the post :0)