But there is a great deal of disappointment expressed today about the character and the effects of Christian people, about Christian institutions, and - at least by implication - about the Christian faith and understanding of reality. Most of the disappointment comes from Christians themselves, who find that what they profess "just isn't working" - not for themselves nor, so far as they can see, for those around them. What they have found, at least, does not "exceed all expectations," as the standard evaluation form says. "Disappointment" books form a subcategory of Christian publishing. Self-flagellation has not disappeared from the Christian repertoire.
So if this is the reality we find ourselves in, where do we go from here? Either Jesus is a fraud, and his claims aren't true? Or what we're following, isn't Jesus. I'm convinced that our issues are the fact that we don't have the right Gospel. Our theologies of what is important are skewed, and therefore so is our behavior and our experiences of followers of Jesus. As the American church, we have lost our identity. We are rooted in a reaction against pagan culture and measure success within the bounds of the American business model. (both mere symptoms of staunch modernism) We literally have forgotten who we are. We are no different than the Israelites wandering the desert but lusting after the pagan ways of life.
Within this is a self-critique. I'm understanding that the Kingdom is here, but I still make choices that indulge the flesh w/out any recognition of a Kingdom Now. And I dont' know why. Jesus offers deep and lasting freedom, I seem to prefer bondage.
This is the reality we find ourselves in, but it doesn't have to remain that way.
Paul says in Romans 8:1-2
With the arrival of Jesus, the Messiah, that fateful dilemma is resolved. Those who enter into Christ's being-here-for-us no longer have to live under a continuous, low-lying black cloud. A new power is in operation. The Spirit of life in Christ, like a strong wind, has magnificently cleared the air, freeing you from a fated lifetime of brutal tyranny at the hands of sin and death.
3-4God went for the jugular when he sent his own Son. He didn't deal with the problem as something remote and unimportant. In his Son, Jesus, he personally took on the human condition, entered the disordered mess of struggling humanity in order to set it right once and for all. The law code, weakened as it always was by fractured human nature, could never have done that.
Well, that's good news.