I would like to make a quick comment on Donald Miller’s prayer at the Democratic National Convention Monday night. There are some that question why he prayed there, but that is not the purpose of this post. I think it’s important that we look at the theology contained in the closing lines of his prayer. “I make these requests in the name of your son, Jesus, who gave his own life against the forces of injustice.”
Some would think it unfair to look at a prayer and make judgment calls. In that case, those people would have a problem with Jesus who told us how to pray (and also how not to) in Matthew 6:5-13. However, the point I’m making is not the prayer as much as it is the understanding of the Gospel presented in the prayer. The Gospel, after all, is the power of God for salvation (Romans 1:16). Therefore, our understanding of the Gospel is of utmost importance. For to dilute the message of the Gospel is to mess with God’s saving plan through Christ.
What did Jesus die for? Was it to fight against the forces of injustice? To answer that we have to look at whose wrath Jesus’ death appeased. His sacrifice wasn’t a payment to Satan for the souls of men. On the other hand, it wasn’t injustice that God was saving us from. He would have been totally just in all of us facing the eternal penalty for our sin. He is a perfect God and will not tolerate rebellion. No injustice there. Our problem without Christ is not Satan, our problem is with God. We have fallen short of His standard. At the cross, through Christ, we see God’s grace, love, wrath, justice and mercy. That was my penalty Christ bore. He wasn’t fighting injustice, He was taking God’s justice upon Himself in my place so that through Him I could experience God’s grace, forgiveness and love. Fair? No. Just? Yes.
The Gospel of Christ is so much more than “let’s make the world a better place”. Jesus is not just our example, He is our Savior! To lose sight of the true message of the Gospel is to lose it’s uniqueness, it’s power and ultimately it’s good news. The result being that the church just becomes another organization, another voice, trying to change the world. The power of the Gospel is not in changing the world, it’s in saving it. Not through social means but by “trusting in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me.”
Paul told the Galatians in chapter 2 “We wanted to preserve the truth of the gospel message for you.” Evidence that truth is something to be preserved, not changed or redefined. May we keep ourselves purely hungering for the Gospel, clearly presenting it’s truth and trusting in the power of God to save.
Here are some more verses to think about. These verses are not presented in a stance against Donald Miller, but in reference to keeping the Gospel the Gospel.
I hope you will put up with a little more of my foolishness. Please bear with me. 2 For I am jealous for you with the jealousy of God himself. I promised you as a pure bride to one husband—Christ. 3 But I fear that somehow your pure and undivided devotion to Christ will be corrupted, just as Eve was deceived by the cunning ways of the serpent. 4 You happily put up with whatever anyone tells you, even if they preach a different Jesus than the one we preach, or a different kind of Spirit than the one you received, or a different kind of gospel than the one you believed. 2 Corinthians 11:1-4
6 I am shocked that you are turning away so soon from God, who called you to himself through the loving mercy of Christ. You are following a different way that pretends to be the Good News 7 but is not the Good News at all. You are being fooled by those who deliberately twist the truth concerning Christ. 8 Let God’s curse fall on anyone, including us or even an angel from heaven, who preaches a different kind of Good News than the one we preached to you. 9 I say again what we have said before: If anyone preaches any other Good News than the one you welcomed, let that person be cursed. 10 Obviously, I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant. Galatians 1:6-10