The Missing Gospel-Centrality Local Church-Mindedness in the MediaFriday, August 25, 2006
Big "duh" on that one. My wife and I were trying to enjoy a little television last night. She found a favorite show to watch - Diagnosis Murder. I quickly turned it. The "cheese factor" is too high for me. This yielded a verbal blow, sarcastically and facetiously, of course, that I just don't like clean television. She threw Walker Texas Ranger in there as another example of clean television that I didn't like. Perhaps a post on what constitutes the "cheese factor" later.
As I took command, mounted my couch cushion, gripped the remote with much authority and purposefulness, I began surfing the 23 channels we have on basic cable. On channel 2 (ABC, I believe) was a show about the AIDS crisis in black America. After listening for about 45 minutes on the absolute foolishness of the proposed and supposed solutions, I was dumbfounded. Arguing about whether or not to swap dirty needles with clean ones, and to make that a formal program federally funded is mind-blowing. And a group of ladies talking about the need for religion and spirituality in the black family as a means of help is mega-short circuited when one of those ladies is talking about having her boyfriend tested for AIDS before she has sex with him. That shows great care for herself and for her boyfriend, another lady said. It's all an absolute mess...a reflection of nothing else but Romans 1:18-32 in action, especially given the amount of time spent on last night's show talking about "down-lows", or black men who are married but have homosexual lovers. Hearing the solutions batted around between various groups of men and women was even more frustration. They need the gospel!!! And we must take it to them!!!
But who are the "we"? It certainly wasn't the group of three I saw on TBN last night, while surfing a religious networking wave. There was a younger couple interviewing John Maxwell. The couple evidently produced the new movie coming out called One Night With the King. When they talked about their desire to impact the culture for Christ, and when they asked Maxwell to give his input on how we can do that, Maxwell's response caused me to injure once more our very fragile remote control. His response was basically this: if we are going to impact the culture for Christ it is not going to be through the local church on a Sunday morning; it's going to have to be through the arts, music, and other reflections of culture that people live in today. So there it is from one of America's greatest religious leaders today in the business world. The local church on a Sunday morning is not going to make it happen. And you know what? I think he's right.
That's why I asked, "who are the 'we'?" Because if the "we" are cultural, nominal Christians who frankly have never understood the gospel, then yes, "we" will be unable to fight the AIDS threat within the black community with the gospel. And yes, we will be unable to impact culture in arts and music with the gospel.
The disconnect was clear to me last night. Whether it is in the secular media or the "Christian" media, there is a missing gospel-centrality and local church-mindedness everywhere I turn.
The gospel is the birthplace of the local church. The local church is rooted in it. If a local church is not rooted in the gospel, then biblically, it cannot be a local church. I think that's about as simple as anyone can put it.
Further, the gospel is the ground in which the local church is rooted. Everyone who belongs in a local church should be rooted in the gospel. If a person is not rooted in the gospel through their local church, then biblically, they probably are not a real Christian. I think that's about as simple as anyone can put it.
Additionally, the gospel is the root of the local church, which means that everything the local church does will be about the gospel, its message, its methods, its aims and goals, its promises, its end result, etc. If a local church and the persons within it do not make their aim in life the gospel itself, then biblically speaking, they do not believe it or have saving faith in it. Again, that's about as simple as it gets.
The local church is simply a local fountain through which and out of which the gospel flows and spews forth into a community. The local church is like Old Faithful, regularly, consistently, persistently spewing the gospel day by day by day to everyone who is close by. And every person within the local church who is a true believer is a little Old Faithful. This is truly the only way that we will impact culture in arts and music and whatever else. This is truly the only way we will impact the black community so that homosexuality and AIDS will disappear from within our local communities.
If we don't have the gospel right, and if we are not local church-minded, we will never impact anybody with anything of eternal value and significance.
Oh yeah...did I mention how the fellow on TBN summed up the book of Esther for his new movie? It was about a little minority girl who saved her people and impacted the world. No, I didn't get that part wrong. And this is but another reflection of how really, really, really deplorable and abysmal many "Christians" understanding of the gospel is. I thought Esther was about God once again rescuing His people from certain death, continuing to fulfill His promises to Israel, in order to make His name great among the nations of the earth? Ah...but that's for another post.