I have been saying for several years now that one of the best ways to understand the general character of American culture is that it is a way of life that reveals that humans must do what God has already done, is doing and will do. So, when pastors and teachers in the church stress the Christian’s Crazy Love for God instead of God’s love for his creation and people, or stress the Christian’s Radical commitment to and accomplishments for God, instead of God’s radical commitment to and accomplishments for his creation and people, they simply demonstrate that they not only do not understand very well the gospel revealed in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament, but also are dressing up in biblical language what is already in American culture. And people wonder how Old Covenant Israel could end-up engaging in Baal worship, while also carrying-out the Temple sacrifices.
The biblical gospel is first and foremost about who God is and what he does. Or, to put it another way: Who he is and what he has done (past), what he is doing (present) and what he will do (future). You see, he is “the Alpha and Omega,” the one “who is, who was and is to come, the Almighty” (Rev. 1:8). Biblical Christianity is about sinners receiving what is not of them so that they are then empowered to live in ever increasing obedience to God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. But when our obedience to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit becomes the primary emphasis in our thoughts about and actions in the Christian life, and becomes the lens through which we filter our reading of the Bible, we are operating with a very dangerous and diabolical device. It amounts to us embracing and presenting as Christianity what is nothing more than the ideology of the non-Christian culture in which we are immersed. No wonder it resonates with so many people.
No, the Bible does not teach the Christian to be passive and slothful. Yes, if you are a true Christian, having the power of God welling up within you to eternal life, it will make you very active. But do not beg the questions. What will it make the true disciple of the Lord Jesus active in doing? How will true disciples be nourished to continue doing what they are commanded to do? At its core, the biblical gospel is something that is received; we do not get to harness it for our agendas. When we think we can do the latter, we have been led astray and when we keep thinking and acting on the idea that we can harness the gospel for our agendas–no matter how wonderfully biblical they sound–we lead others astray.