Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The Gospel and Grief

I have some hesitation in making this post. It is something I believe in very strongly, but I don't know how it will be received. I don't want to give any hint that I have no sympathy for those who grieve. I have great love and respect for my family and for anyone who has lost a loved one. I know I won't completely cover every aspect and angle of this so it is incomplete. I am a sinner and a flawed human being. I recognize that. But as I discuss this concept with people I trust, I am finding that there is something huge here.

It has been nearly a year since my Mom passed away. From time to time I will have a moment of grief and shed some tears, but overall I feel like I have a grasp on my grief. Others seem to be having a difficult time with their own loss. It makes me sad to watch them deal with it so hard. I know everyone deals with grief differently and in their own time frame. I recognize and respect that. I freely give room for that.

However, I made some observations about the differences I have. It made me realize something about the theology of those who teach a social gospel and a "Kingdom of this world" theology. When we make the gospel "...Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven..." and social justice, we focus on here and now. It doesn't give those who have lost everything the faith and hope of tomorrow. They will see their loved ones again if they have faith in Christ which is why we need to share that Gospel (The only true Gospel) with people more than the social gospel of a romanticized love which accepts sinfulness at any cost. True love "...does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth..." (1 Cor. 13:6) and John's account of Jesus says that "[His] kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews...” (John 18:36)

I know too many in our churches that feed at the well of social justice as primary news. This missional theology wants us to lessen our focus on saving people's souls and think about how we change this world now. I have witnessed this teaching give those in grief no hope for tomorrow. They have lost their faith. They have lost their way. We can read loads of articles on how we can better reach millennials who are not interested in the answers we used to have. The cynicism that is created is helping our friends and family run from Christ. And the solutions they seem to give are just more of the same nonsense that will lead to deeper despair or worse, lead us to accepting sin without repentance. The latter is rampant in our world today.

What does scripture say about those who teach? That they are judged more severely (James 3:1). These men and women who teach this need to think about what they are promising people in their "gospel". We absolutely should take care of the poor, the needy, the desperate, the sinner. But when we substitute that as the Gospel instead of the fruit of the Gospel (Gal. 5:22-23), we leave people to deal with life's traumas on their own.

I sometimes still have moments of sadness when I think about my Mom and how much I miss her. But only if I dwell on just that aspect. When I think about heaven and seeing her again, and knowing she is no longer in pain, I rejoice. Also, knowing the large number of my friends in Christ's Church who pray for me makes my faith even stronger. I don't get desperate. I don't despair. I think about how lost the grieving are when they don't have the true Jesus who heals. It is sad but it makes me angry with the teachers in our brotherhood who have been given a huge responsibility and don't find this message urgent enough so they teach this other "gospel" and they do it in the guise of scholarship and "a better understanding". They misuse scripture when it suits them but when you use their own methods on their theology, they get mad or say it's not the same thing. They are hypocrites. It's Pharisaical.

Strong words, I know. But I'm tired of it. They are stealing hope from people who need it. And our brotherhood eats it up. Where are our elders and leaders who have knowledge in the Word and the strength and perseverance to stand up and say, "Enough!"? They've been charged with protecting the flock from wolves and they are asleep in the fields while the sheep are carried away.

I, for one, am not an elder but I am a leader and I'm calling out the hypocrisy and the false religion being substituted for the Gospel of Jesus. You are hurting Christ's people and I will continue to teach the truth.
*As I prefaced, this isn't everything. It doesn't encompass all of what grieving people deal with. I understand that. I'm not saying this is all of it. But, it is definitely a large part of it from my perspective and experience and we need more people willing to stand up boldly and say it out loud. I know I am not alone. I talk to brothers and sisters ALL THE TIME who agree with me and struggle with the same thing.