He’d been announced as an evangelist and he was certainly a charismatic speaker. It wasn’t long before the church resounded with amens as the evangelist warned us against the perils of mini skirts, sagging trousers and hugging. As I listened to the exhaustive list of sins, I couldn’t help but wonder… Is the gospel all about fashion advice? Did Jesus die to lengthen skirts and raise trousers? Can the horrors of the world be blamed on hugging of men and women?
Perhaps I was too hard on him but I’d come to church longing to feast on the Word, glimpse hope and step out and forward with renewed joy and strength. Alas, I only got to chuckle at the lampooning of contemporary youth culture and the tentative connection between the main text and the thrust of the sermon. All was not lost, I did benefit from parts of it.
In the end, we are individuals and a sermon that’s over way too soon for one person is eternal drudgery for the next. It would be a flagrant denial of reality to insist that we all see and do the same thing in the same way all the time but appreciating reality is still an acquired taste for some.
“We need to be united and speak as one,” is often a way of saying, “We don’t want to hear what you’re saying because we refuse to see things in any other way.” Uniformity is touted as the key to avoiding chaos but even a cursory look at Genesis 1 reveals that God ended chaos without dumping reality in the bin.
We must unify around core values as a church but surely, our understanding of those core values must grow, lest we find ourselves like those “mutilators of the flesh”: desperately clinging to dead forms of religion. Religious forms are not principles but the application of those principles. We seriously need to grow up.
The core of the Gospel is the good news about God. It is the celebration of God not only as Creator but “Recreator”. It is when we make the gospel a list of “deeds to be done and sins to be shunned” that we eviscerate it and leave it cold and dead in lifeless legalism. Jesus is the victor. Jesus is the hero. God is as good as He claimed to be. God has shown Himself worthy to sit on the throne! That is the gospel! We need to gather and hold hands around that!