A Gospel of Strength
Updated: Jun 21, 2019
Karl Marx stated, "Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, just as it is the spirit of a spiritless situation. It is the opium of the people. The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness."
To a certain degree Karl Marx is correct. If we allow ourselves to create a religion that fills our head with fantastical ideas and concepts to relieve us of our pain, help us escape our true nature, and helps us develop a cosmological reality that exists to serve us then we in fact are creating an illusion to deceive ourselves. Where I differ with Marx is that while I believe we have to rid ourselves of a fantastical, illusory filled religion to appease our desires I do not believe that ridding of ourselves of religion in itself is the answer. I do believe that ridding the delusion will bring us to closer understanding of reality and thus since God is reality, then, it ultimately means we come to have a closer walk with God.
As an evangelical Christian I cringe when I hear people refer to the second coming of Christ as the ultimate rescue for our discomfort in this world. People pray for the second coming of Christ in order to alleviate themselves of the hardships of this world. We want Jesus to return so that we don't have to deal with the unpleasantries of life like sin.
I believe that Jesus came to this world not only to die for our sins, so that in his death we are liberated and redeemed, but I believe that he came into this world so that we may also learn to live as he lived. In his perfection he endured sin, endured ridicule, endured persecution and was tempted by Satan himself. Yet Jesus did not call upon his angels, of which 12 legions are standing by (Matthew 26:53), instead, Jesus lives out his human life in humility, obedience and persistence.
Daniel warns us that the day will come when the world will speak against the Most High God and the saints, a day where a real spirit of persecution will be unleashed against the saints. Daniel 7:25 states, "they shall speak words against the Most High God and shall wear out the saints of the Most High."
Johns shares in Revelation 13:10, "If anyone is to be taken captive, to captivity he goes; if anyone is to be slain with the sword, with the sword must he be slain." This is yet another example of the persecution that is to come and in the midst of this we will simply have to trust God and wait on God's timing. It may mean sure death for us. So the Gospel we cling on to in scripture is not meant to be a message for the weak minded to wait to be rescued, but for the strong to endure, to trust, to wait and know God is ultimately coming.
I served 32 years in uniform, first as a Marine and then a Navy chaplain. When serving in uniform we were constantly reminded of the Code of Conduct for military personnel. That code was meant to be memorized and in essence you were to remember, that no matter how bad things get, you will not be forgotten. Therefore, as a member of the US Armed Forces you are never to surrender your spirit, never stop thinking of how to evade the enemy, how to escape if captured and how to defeat the enemy.
The Gospel serves the same purpose to us. It does not state, wait in a corner and hide and wait for Jesus to come. It declares, Go out into all the world and proclaim the good news, teaching and baptizing. Note that it doesn't state to this under safe circumstances but rather if we believe it, we are to engage in this Gospel sharing all of the time.
Marx was right, the religion that we create for ourselves to cater towards our comfort is an opiate that we do not need. However, the faith Jesus grants us in His grace to serve others and proclaim God's glory in the world makes us stronger every day, helps us to lean on God and trust no other.
The Gospel is not news to whimper on, the Gospel is news that engages us and makes us brave in the face of adversity. Remember Philippians 1:21, "For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain." This is not a Gospel for the weak minded but a call for those who dare to be strong in Jesus.