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Friday, April 3, 2015

Living By The Fifth Gospel

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Jesus went about announcing, "God's rule is breaking in everywhere, right here and now. Radically change your ways to God's ways and embrace this good news!" 
(Mark 1:15, paraphrased)

I have always professed to live by the gospel (good news) according to Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, but during this Holy Week I'm realizing how much I may be living by an antithetical version of Jesus' life and teachings, one we might call "The Gospel According To US".

This widely celebrated gospel affirms that...

1. It's OK for some people to accumulate more and more wealth and possessions while others lack even bare necessities.

2. We can accept huge worldwide and US wage and income inequities as normal and inevitable.

3. We can secretly support the maiming, dismembering and slaughtering of enemies like ISIS or any other groups that commit atrocities or who simply threaten our national interest.

4. We can support the investment of huge amounts of money in expensive real estate for ourselves, as well as in state-of-the-art furnishings and amenities and million dollar endowments to enhance and support our church buildings and church institutions.

5. We can "fare sumptuously" every day, and whenever we host any of our frequent feasts we need only invite our close friends and family members.

6. Our social life and church life need involve only people who think, look and believe much as we do.

7. Our wardrobes can represent the kind of fashion statement that includes expensive jewelry and multiple changes of clothing to later be disposed of in yard sales or thrift stores to make room for more.

8. We can enjoy luxurious cruises and expensive vacations whenever and however we can afford them.

9. We can look forward to a leisurely retirement and to living to a ripe old age without having to risk any major discomfort or sacrifice for our faith.

10. All the while, God will look with favor on our living by this "fifth gospel", will comfort us in our distresses, shower us with blessings and give us a free pass to eternal bliss.

Now is that good news or not?
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