A young Tennessee Pastor came up to a friend of mine, Pastor Robb Renfroe, at a conference and told him about the three churches he was serving. “At one, they want me to yell at them and tell them how bad everyone else is. At the second, they want me to yell at them and remind them how bad they are. At the third, they don’t want me to yell at all, because they don’t think anyone or anything is bad.”
The story cracked me up, because it describes a huge swath of American religiosity. Hard-nosed legalism and clueless liberalism litter the landscape of American Church life. But there is another way, the true Gospel way, that releases supernatural grace upon people to reveal and display the lavish love of God even as our sinful nature and rebellious ways are exposed to the transforming power of God.
Liberal churches need to hear the truth again: For ALL have sinned and fall short of the Glory of God (Romans 3:23).
Legalistic churches need to hear the next verse: and all are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus (Romans 3:24).
Liberal churches need to grasp again: For the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23a) …
Legalist churches need to remember: …but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord Romans 6:23b)
But what is God wanting US to hear as we move forward as a new Church into a new future? I believe, in part, it is Romans 1:16-17: For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it written, ‘The Just shall live by faith.’
By relying on the power-filled revelation of the Lord Jesus to birth faith in the hearts of fallen people, we go forward into this vast region called Appalachia, starting right here with our own neighbors.
In the power of the Holy Spirit we unashamedly pray for the Lord to move in signs, wonders, and miracles; simultaneously revealing what fallen, narcissistic, hard-hearted, stiff-necked people we are apart from Jesus.
In the presence and presentation of the full gospel, people get healed and saved and delivered—and we don’t have to shout at anyone… or pretend that there is nothing wrong in staying fallen…!
We are a new church and this is a new day. The Lord has called us to release, teach, and display the FULL GOSPEL: ALL of the Good News of Jesus, unashamed of the laughter, the crying, the shaking, the glory, the revelation, the healing, the deliverance, the freedom, the peace, and the shock and awe that comes from being exposed to the living God.
This Gospel IS the POWER OF GOD that brings true salvation, not just a “stay out of hell” ticket; this is the true Gospel that unites all of the Body of Christ; this is the only Gospel presented in the New Testament—Good News that cannot be throttled or reduced to a program—The power of God to all us broken humans to both shower us with acceptance and transform us away from our brokenness.
Yes, Lord, we are not ashamed of the GOSPEL…!