At the Derek Webb concert the other night, I bought his "House Show" cd. I've been listening to it pretty much non stop since then. There is one track that has stayed with me. I've listened to it over and over. In it, Derek is introducing his song "The Wedding Dress". What he says, just grabs me. It's something God has been convicting me of lately- through studying the youth Life group lessons, through a novel I read, and through a few other ways.
The questions that have been stirring in my heart are "What am I doing to really share the gospel?" "Do I live like I believe that Jesus is the way to life, true everlasting life?" "Who do I tell?" "What am I going to do to about it?"
So, I typed out the whole thing. I know I could have just down loaded it, but I needed to have it in print. Maybe someone else needs to read it, too.
Introduction of the "Wedding Dress"
"This song is my own confessing that because of my unbelief, because I don't believe the gospel. I don't believe that Christ is really sufficient for me. I don't believe that he will really meet all my needs. I don't. I struggle to believe that. You can see it by the way I live. And because I don't believe that, I all too often, give in, am convinced or wooed by what some theologians have called "lovers less wild" than Jesus the great lover of our souls. Other lovers as Scripture calls them as well, that would seek to convince us that they can satisfy us. Convince us that they can safely bear our sin. That we will be safe and secure. That they can satisfy us in ways that, in fact, only our Savior can. I think that so often we try to make it our job to make the gospel easier for us to preach and easier for other people to hear. In order to not get into trouble, in order to not be confrontational. But see, here is the truth, you just can't preach the gospel and not get into trouble. You just can't do it. Hard as you might try. You can dress it up anyway you might want, but if you are really preaching the gospel, you're going to get yourself into trouble....
Because, again, the cross is both beautiful and offensive and it must be both. It is both. There is no other gospel for you to preach. So in ways that we seek to dress it up or as Tony Campollo puts it, if we seek to neuter the gospel, just to rob it of it's great offense and therefore it's great beauty, then it's no longer the gospel we are preaching to people. We are not doing anyone any favors by making the gospel easier to hear, because it ceases to be the gospel. It's not safe to boldly preach the gospel. It's not. You might as well get to preaching it and get into trouble. Our same gospel that we are told will literally set mother against daughter, son against father, not bringing peace but a sword. Dangerous work that we are in as believers. Perilous work that we have before us to preach the gospel. Not only to each other but to the outside world, the unbelieving world. Not safe work.
Safe is not a word that I believe characterizes Christians or Jesus or the gospel. It shouldn't. If it is, than it might not be the gospel we are preaching. It makes me think about the great work by C.S. Lewis The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Where there are these children who find their way through this wardrobe, or closet and they find themselves in this other world. A magical world where all these incredible things begin to happen. They meet this great Lion, Aslan is his name. He is the Christ figure in this story. These children, as you can imagine, when they see this huge lion, they are terribly frightened. They are scared to death. They know that he is King, but they have all these questions. They go to some that live there, who know more of Aslan then they do and they say...'Can you tell us is he safe?' The response that the children receive is not 'yes, he's safe, in fact, he's safe for the whole family.' That's not the response. But the response is 'NO, no he is not safe, but he is good and he is the King.'
Jesus, folks, He is not safe. He is not manageable. He is a wild lion. You cannot tame Him. He is not safe, but He is good. He is King. You can trust him. You can trust that He will provide for you as you go out and you seek to tell people about Him. The gospel that we carry is not safe. It is not. It is not manageable. Not efficient. Loving people is not efficient. But the gospel is good, it is true, but it's not safe."