I continue to make my way through a pre-release copy of John Eldredge’s “Walking with God.” I have one last chapter and it’s been really refreshing to get through a variety of topics.
One entry in the book is called “Not Every Gospel Is Equal” and after reading a few lines I knew I was going to like it. I will post several lines below but I’ll summarize briefly.
Eldredge asserts that Christians today often will not make distinctions and value judgments between various movements in Christianity, churches or Christians. Citing Matthew 7:1-5 when Jesus said, “Do not judge or you too will be judged.”
He counters this idea with John 7:24 “Stop judging by mere appearances and make a right judgement.” and Galatians 1:6-9.
Eldredge’s point is that Jesus, along with his disciples in writings to early Christians encourages us to make “right distinctions between the true and the false, the accurate and the not-so accurate.” Not to make ourselves look better or prove a point, but to make “right judgements.” We should feel comfortable holding up each other to the life and teachings of Christ and see if things align. He adds about some faiths, churches, people… “There are just enough Jesus words in there to make them sound like Christianity. But they are not preaching the Gospel Jesus preached.”
On this point I agree. And often times I think we (Christians in general and myself included) often error on the side of “not rocking the boat” or “well I shouldn’t really judge” when life before us, our churches, our relationships, our faith doesn’t align with Christ. We make agreements or we rationalize and remain in something that has “enough Jesus words” to keep us comfortable, our situation manageable.
Eldredge closes this particular entry by talking about a type of Christianity he calls “Christianity and“. He only spends a few paragraphs on it, but I’m sure you could spend chapters. The idea is, Christians get so wrapped up in issues or topics they become entangled in those issues and lose their loyalty to and focus in Christ.
For example, it could be “Christianity and conservatism”. That people could become more concerned about issues of conservative values than they do drawing people into an intimacy with God. I, like Eldredge, don’t have a problem with conservative values, but the focus is what I believe can become twisted. When we couple our faith with the world of politics, social reform, environmentalism, legalism and a variety of issues, those become our faith.
Don’t think however, that these issues aren’t important. Just like I don’t have a problem with conservative values, I fully embrace and engage in political debate, social reform, environmentalism, legalism, etc. But my goal and my desire and my focus should be on how I can introduce people to a deeper intimacy with God through Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit.
Three additional points Eldredge makes…
- “The heart is central to the Christian life…”
- “…we are invited into a conversational intimacy with God…”
- “…spiritual warfare is real…”
In closing, as I said at the top, this entry was refreshing and challenging. Not every gospel is equal. We need to make right distinctions and right judgments between the true and the false, the accurate and the not-so accurate. We can’t settle for “just enough Jesus words.” And our focus or allegiance shouldn’t be with Republicans, Democrats, PETA, Evangelicals, denominations or organizations.
Our loyalty should rest with Jesus Christ and with Him alone.