Learning what the gospel miracle means

Step 12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we will try to carry this message to others who think that Christians are better than everyone else.SubstandardFullSizeRender

And what message is that? The message that we are no better than anyone else — we are saved, that’s all, and it can happen to anyone.

It’s the Gospel of Welcome: we accept you and ask questions later. You are pre-qualified, and sin is the pre-qualifier. The thing which most non-Christians think is keeping them out is the thing that lets them in. This is the Good News of the gospel, but sadly, the most little-known news in the world. It’s news that we don’t always want to tell, because it comes at our expense.

That’s because we like to keep the myth going that Christians are better, because that sets us apart from everyone else, and gives us a sense of accomplishment, and a false sense of acceptance. It also allows us to be safe and separate. Safe and separate is no good to anybody. This is why religion is the enemy of the gospel.

We are not good people; we are not ever better people; we are saved people. God has pulled off a miracle here, and that message goes down best among those who really need a miracle, and let’s face it: we all need a miracle. Jesus came for bad people, not good people. Just like the Pharisees, good people send Jesus away.

The fact that we have a son in a treatment center may be the worst news for my spiritual reputation, but the best news for the gospel. I suddenly have something to say to a host of parents who are in the same position, not to mention the kids. I have an opportunity for the gospel among a group of people I probably would not have even known otherwise.

I must say, however, having Chandler away has made life around here much easier, because his friends are not coming around anymore. No more painful confrontation. That’s good, and that’s bad. It’s good in that I’m off the hook playing cop, which I never liked anyway, but it’s bad in that I no longer have an opportunity to be Christ in the lives of Chandler, his friends and their parents. Some of these friends were not good, and just seeing them gave me a heavy heart. It interrupted my day, because I knew there was something going down. They hid it from me, and lied about it, and I wanted to believe their lies, because I don’t like confrontation. But I still had to deal with the situation, regardless.

At my worst, I would simply kick them out. I had a right to. They had broken the rules of the house; they had to go. At my best, however, I would meet them head on as a challenge to love, realizing they were in situations that were not entirely their own making, and a few times I would open my Bible and teach them something from the word — a sort of unannounced Bible study. (Okay, I’ve got you guys. I know you’re not going anywhere because you don’t have anywhere else to go, so let’s open the Bible and turn to the Gospel of John …) This was Marti’s idea and at first I thought she was nuts; now I only wish I’d done it more. I must admit: no one left, and some of them asked very good questions. I could tell Chandler hated this on the surface (the face he showed to his friends), but loved it inside. I know this, especially now, because I have a better understanding of the good stuff that is in Chandler’s heart.

I say all this to make a point about the opening into the lives of so many people that this unfortunate set of circumstances has nonetheless created. I spent so long trying to keep up a good evangelical reputation, and suddenly I traded that for an opportunity to be Christ in the world. Let’s face it, I’m the only one who cares about that evangelical reputation. Let’s drop that, and let our own struggles open the door for the gospel miracle that we all so desperately need.

See above right for a special message from Noel Paul Stookey.

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