This morning, as I was getting off of the Emory shuttle, I was walking down the sidewalk when I realized there was a woman walking in tandem with me.
We were walking so in-sync, in fact, from the outside, it probably looked as if we knew each other. I thought it to be rude to walk so closely to someone and not speak to them, so I turned my head and said, “Good morning!”
She responded in-kind and, after asking me where I was attending school, she began to tell me that her husband was a minister for many years but after going on a missions trip to Budapest, they returned back to the states not as committed to their congregational beliefs as before.
I asked what denomination was she and she said they were a part of the Conservative Church of God.
“Ohhhhh…”, I said. “Real conservative! Missions work usually kills any kind conservative views!”
We both laughed.
She said, “We came back and realized that what I believed didn’t work in Budapest. That’s the point if the Gospel, right? It’s supposed to work everywhere! What good is the Gospel if it doesn’t apply to all?”
She said she returned to the States jaded — her husband left the ministry — and, they’ve found peace with living with and for Christ in their own way, with their own understanding of the Gospel being something for all people. Funny note: she mentioned that her mom still cries out, “You’re going to hell!” because of her newfound understanding of the purpose of the Gospel. This Southern white woman then exclaimed, “Well, I guess that’s where I’ll be going, then.”
What a great God moment. She’d rather choose hell than oppress folks with views that don’t allow all them to be able to relate to and receive the liberative Gospel of Jesus Christ. Turn up for Jesus, indeed.
Her question still resonates with me, though: “What good is the Gospel if it doesn’t apply to all?”
I mean, really! What good is it if we use the Gospel of Jesus Christ to limit and hinder and refuse and ostracize and condemn and separate and divide? The Great Commission, to take the Gospel over all of the world, is not only the missional work we’re all called to do, but also the lens through which we view and express our faith. (See Matthew 28:16-20)
Our beliefs, especially those that are shaped through denominational allegiances, can sometimes offer a narrow view of what it means to stand with those who want to experience Jesus. I know that I’ve had some beliefs about Jesus, God, and the Gospel that were limiting and seemingly made me look and feel superior because of my understanding of Jesus. (My very limited understanding, may I add)
The Gospel of Jesus Christ is. for. everybody.
Yes, even them.
If how we view Jesus and use the bible in relationship to other people does not include them, their experiences, and contexts, then we ain’t doing this thing right.
Here’s the bright side: you can learn a whole lot (about life and Jesus) by talking to strangers, though!
On the Chase,