The Simplicity of the Gospel


I work in a very technical field. Right now I am between jobs, so I am learning some new things that a potential employer requires me to know. I will admit that I am very very tired of feeling overwhelmed and out of my depth. In my entire career in IT, I can’t remember a time when I didn’t feel overwhelmed by the complexity of it all, to the point where I felt hopelessly out of my depth. Believe me, working at my last job with electronic medical record interchange between dozens of disparate systems was extremely complex. We live in a very complex society.

I don’t need a complex faith.

I was at a religious conference a couple of years ago, and after one of the talks a woman asked a telling question. She basically said, can you tell me what to do now, because I would like to live by the gospel if I could just understand what you people are talking about. What she was really saying was this: I don’t understand what you are saying – at all. I feel out of my depth. I’m not smart enough or educated enough to get grace. I want to press a question: how do you think Jesus feels about it when we press views that make these precious people feel out of their depth? We use a vast technical theological vocabulary and quote strange dead men and create a rarified and difficult and kind of scary atmosphere in which to dwell. As soon as someone says anything we kind of furrow our brow and put it to the theological purity test. Here’s my test: does it reinforce that I am loved by God? In my previous post I was working through an issue where a discussion had raised all of these complicated questions. I hope you didn’t read it if it confused you. Here was my conclusion: despite all of this ridiculous overly intellectualized crap, I am loved by God. The gospel is not complicated. It is a rest from complication. The gospel has depth, and that is OK, but it is not necessarily helpful for us to press for erudition and complexity with people.

“We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us.”
1 John 4:16 (NASB)

You don’t have to know every last thing about the microbiology of plants to see that a flower is beautiful. God became flesh and blood, not to make things more complicated with elaborate doctrines and theories about the incarnation. He became flesh and blood to make it easier to relate to Him, and you can go ahead and more easily relate to Him without nailing down all the exact doctrines of the incarnation. Jesus died for us, and took the blame for our shame. You don’t need to know all the ins and outs of the history of “soteriology” and the various theories of the atonement to know that you are completely forgiven of everything in Christ. However it works, it works, and you can trust it. God loves you tremendously. Just know that and believe it. Never let the technicalities of high-minded theology obscure the simplicity of the gospel for you! You are very greatly loved!

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  1. You also don’t have to understand how digestion works in order to be nourished by a good meal. It’s good to know that the effectiveness of the new life working in us is not dependent on our understanding of the process. Our comprehension is limited but we still get the benefits.

  2. Why do we insist on making the Gospel so complicated ? To me, it all seems boiled down to two questions: how is one saved? And where is God when life hurts ? That’s about it.

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