Some imply the gospel is more about God’s wrath than love as if God has to get over His anger before He can love us. Preachers suggest a relationship with God begins by praying: “Dear God, I am a sinner that deserves death. I now believe Jesus died on the cross to save me from my sins and I accept Jesus into my heart.” It is implied this prayer keeps one from going to Hell. A closer reading of any of the Gospels in one sitting reveals this was not Jesus’ style of evangelism.
Even human parents don’t threaten their children with punishment in hopes of gaining a friendship. We warn them of evil for their own good in hopes to steer them from destruction. God’s love, not His wrath, was center stage in Scriptures (I John 4:8). God’s wrath is simply another side of God’s love to guide one for their and society’s own good. God doesn’t hate the evildoer but what evil does to us. The fear of punishment is meant to deter but doesn’t lead to life transformations or prevent one from finding ways to hide their actions. Has gloomy uncertainty as to God’s favor conquered battles against self-centeredness or long-standing habitual sins in your life?
God isn’t concerned about His ego! A legalistic view of the Cross undermines the beauty of God’s unconditional love. God was not more concerned with our guilt and restoring His honor than desiring a personal relationship. God did not need to be appeased by human sacrifice as the other Old Testament gods. The Cross was not necessary as if God couldn’t love us until death accounted for our sins. Even human parents don’t stop loving their children because they sin. The Cross was meant to change our view of God, not God’s view of us. God was willing to do anything to persuade us to trust in His love for us than our own wisdom.
What if I told you the Gospel is: “God loves you unconditionally and the Creator wants to have a relationship with you so to influence you for the world’s and your own good. Isn’t that every parent’s desire for their child. Are we better lovers than God? Parents ultimately want their children to understand their unconditional love for them so they might follow in their parents’ footsteps for their own good and make this world a better place. Human parents don’t know better than God how to change the world. When one seeks a better life in this world and the world to come, Jesus simply said love God or follow Me.
It is true spiritual apathy is rampant. It is discouraging that more are not interested in spiritual matters. I have this great relationship with my Creator that helps me to understand the world, cope better with stress, and to look forward to eternal life with fewer regrets, but many are not interested in hearing my story. The resurrection of Jesus can be defended based on reliable historical evidence, but amazingly not everyone cares to investigate further the implications of this miraculous event. But, this may be more reason to make sure we speak about the simplicity and elegance of the gospel when we have opportunities.
We don’t have to threaten people but invite others to consider that their Creator desires a relationship with them when ready. Allow God to be the persuader once people are open to taking steps in such a relationship. Salvation is not being saved from Hell or only about entering heaven sometime in the future after death. Salvation is healing, deliverance, or rescue on earth from a life of self-centeredness. To those who express a need, let’s share our own journey in getting to know Jesus and what He has done for us. God desires to begin a relationship with us so that we can begin the journey of becoming the person we deep down desire to be. We can simply encourage others to get to know and follow Jesus.