Why aren’t we excited about the Gospel?
The private religious view of salvation is not wrong but radically warped by being forcibly shrunk into one limited context. What is lost is the power and the excitement of the Gospel and the salvation it brings. This is like seeing Mount Everest from a satellite: it looks like all the other mountains around it and none of them are impressive from that height. If you look around at contemporary Christian culture, most people are not particularly excited about salvation. They need their arms twisted to share their faith with others. Our salvation does not seem particularly powerful. Christians take it for granted that they will be saved from death. Even most non-Christian believe they will “live”after they die (with no real fear of judgement) so the extra assurance of the Christian salvation after death is not particularly powerful (or necessary) in most people’s eyes.
Given that most Christian are neither excited about the gospel nor impressed by its power for salvation, the first temptation of Christians leaders is to double down on their current way of thinking. Why are people not excited about their salvation? If most people think that they will have some spiritual existence after death then the salvation from death has lost its power and the excitement that goes along with it. What is lost according to this line of thinking is the fear of judgment. What we need to do is instill a fear of judgement for our sins and then when they hear the good news and the salvation it brings they will appreciate the power of salvation and the excitement of relief. The end result is that the gospel message is further warped out of its original meaning. The Gospel is good news not bad! The Christian message is about love not judgement. If we need to crank up the fear of final judgement to get people to appreciate the excitement and power of the Gospel then we have seriously misread the Scriptures. There is more than enough fear, sadness, loneliness, despair and hate in our world for the Gospel to have its appropriate power and excitement. The problem is not that people do not appreciate the problem of sin but that we have narrowed it down to personal sin and we have delayed our salvation until after death. Sadly people have come to see death as a type of personal salvation: its a way of escape from the troubles of this world. For people like this a private religious gospel is not good news at all. It comes across as piling on the problems of today and promising a judgement after we die. For these people, Christianity seems to be vindictively cutting of their escape route and promising eternal pain. Hardly, good news.