Recently at a workshop I heard Danny Simms quote an ancient theologian. The quote: "If you pick the things out of the gospel that you do not like and reject them, it is not the gospel you believe in. It is yourself."

What Christian dares make himself or herself bigger than God? than Jesus Christ? than the Holy Spirit? What Christian declares himself or herself wiser than divine inspiration or more knowledgeable than divine revelation? What Christian presumes to correct God, to inform Jesus that He made a mistake, or to tell the Spirit that He is unnecessary?

What Christian would do that? The Christian who legislates things that God never legislated. The Christian who stresses things that Jesus never stressed. The Christian who seeks to be God's temple while he or she refuses to let the Spirit live in him or her. The Christian who "reasons away" a teaching from God, an emphasis from Jesus, or a work of the Spirit. The Christian who uses human logic to rearrange God's priorities. The Christian who is offended by things that do not offend God. The Christian who approves of things that insult God.

In short, every Christian does that. Each time we study the Bible to evaluate God's teachings rather than to understand them, we do that. Each time we study the Bible to judge others rather than to examine ourselves, we do that. Each time we reject a clear emphasis from God because it disturbs us, we do that. In some circumstance and situation, each of us uses our judgment to ignore God's clearly revealed desire. When we do that, we place our faith in ourselves instead of God.

"God does not want me to show mercy to people like that!" He will. "God does not want me to forgive that person!" He will. "God does not want me to be kind to those people!" He is. "God does not want me to return good for evil when that happens!" He did and does. "If their repentance sickens me, heaven surely does not rejoice!" Oh, but it does! Each time a person repents, the success ratio of the cross increases.

God does not look at anything the way we do. He never has. Our challenge is to look at everything as God does. We need spiritual glasses. Even when we wear them, we struggle to have "eyes" of mercy, compassion, and forgiveness.

I thank God for Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. They show me the good news. They permit me to see my Savior in human form. They reveal to me what God accomplished in Jesus' death and resurrection. They inform me of the assurance of my hope.

We do not need the "gospel according to us." When I rely on the "gospel according to me," I spiritually fail. When I rely on the gospel according to Jesus, I spiritually succeed.

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Bulletin Article, 2 April 2000

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