I recently saw a video of a group holding signs at some awards that were taking place in Hollywood and they had a megaphone with flames painted on it. As a Christian, I felt a bit like I wanted to shrink back and not announce what I am. Why? Because the words that were coming through the megaphone did not seem Christian to me.
I understand that hell is something that the bible talks about and that judgement before a just God is something that all man must face. However I shrink back from shoving Christianity in people’s faces and angrily proclaiming Christ when His ways were humble.
It’s like the “God hates fags” placard. I am a Christian who believes the words of the bible and is convinced that any form of sexual contact outside a socially recognised marriage between a man and a woman is not what God intended, however, I do not subscribe to the statement that these people holding the placard hold.
Why? Because according to God’s word, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. When we were still His enemies, he laid his life for us. Because as a fallen human, saved by grace, I understand that I am no better than anyone else around me and that my white lies, greed and jealousy all make me a candidate for His judgement. God is gracious to all mankind, and shouting at someone you feel is the “other,” the defective, and daming them to hell like you are the righteous judge, is anything but Christ-like.
Hell is not the gospel. Christ’s glory, His love for his fallen people and how he took our place and restores lives, is. When you read the new testament, you find a gentle Christ and His gentle disciples who took the gospel far and wide and in many instances when you see His anger expressed, it is against an elite group who assumed their salvation was guaranteed and set heavy burdens over the people around them. Even when the disciples were told what to do when people rejected the gospel, we find that the disciples aren’t even asked to say anything … they were to do something that by today’s standard would be considered very benign and non confrontational … they were to dust off their feet and leave.
Christ warns us against the leaven of the Pharisees. While I can recognise these traits in both the world and the church, the bible’s standards are for those who profess to follow Christ. Our responsibility towards the world is not to Lord over them with our standard but to show them the gospel in its fullness and show them the change that takes place in our hearts as Christ takes over our lives.