I have a fear of something sort of dramatic in my spiritual life. It’s not irrational, by any stretch of the imagination, because it’s kept in check by the miraculous presence of the Holy Spirit, the perfect guidance of the scriptures, and the gift of accountability among my teachers. I am afraid of a false Gospel. I am afraid of believing one, and (possibly more) afraid of teaching one.
Hear me out: it’s easier than you think. We are called to Unity, but the enemy has caused division. Some people are very turned off by divisions in the church, which I find very sad. But others are brought to Jesus because of what is actually diversity within the church. I read a blog by a woman who was raised in an extremely fundamental cult church led by her grandparents, for example. When her church fell apart (presumably due to some exposed sin – I’m not totally sure) and she escaped the cult, she struggled to read her Bible. We know that perfect truth is in scripture, but when those same words have been used by someone to hurt you, to make you feel guilty or to scold you, but never to build you up, edify you or encourage you, then the “truth” isn’t really anything you want to know about. But God used the liturgy of the Catholic church, and Mary, to bring her to him.
Lot’s of Christians think that Catholics are preaching a false Gospel. And some are. But some Evangelical pastors preach a false Gospel too: they work 24/7 on growing their ministry while their wives and children are at home, wondering when they will share a meal together.
I am afraid that sometimes I get caught up in the way of being “holy,” rather than simply being caught up in Holiness. In encouraging my high school students to wait until marriage for intimacy, I am, on one level, encouraging purity. But if those kids think they’re pure just because they’ve waited… that’s a false Gospel. We are made pure by Jesus, not by our actions. Our actions should come from our state, which is pure.
The only way I’ve found to battle the ease with which my gospel can become false is to know Jesus deeply. I don’t mean read my Bible, although that’s an imperative part of knowing Him (do you see how easy it would be to make “read my Bible” a command to obey rather than an act of love towards my savior?), but to just be with Him. To talk with Him and be still and quiet with Him. To think on His love for me day in and day out. His love for me on the cross, and His love for me as I go through dry seasons where He seems distant.
He is not distant, friends. He is near.