Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Ortberg on the gospel

I first remember really liking John Ortberg when he wrote in the forward to "You Gotta Get Out of the Boat" that he was trying to write "Dallas for dummies" referencing Dallas Willard.

I resonated with that cuz it took me a year and a half to read "The Divine Conspiracy" the first time.

This morning I read another article, this one about what "the gospel" is. Ortberg is once again right on. The 3.5 regular readers of this blog know that I do not care for the question, "if you were to die tonight, do you know for certain where you'd spend eternity?" Here's what Ortberg says:

Maybe the "if you were to die tonight" version of the gospel falls victim to the happiness paradox. If "heaven" is understood as "ultimate happiness," then I can seek to obtain it while remaining trapped in my self-centeredness. If "heaven" is understood as the eternal pleasure factory, then obtaining it has no intrinsic relationship to transformation, therefore no intrinsic relationship to discipleship.
But if the gospel really is the announcement of the availability, through Jesus, of the "with-God life," then things begin to fall into place. Grace is not just the forgiveness of sin, it is the power to live the with-God life from one moment to the next. Heaven is not a pleasure factory that an angry God chooses to shut some people out of because they don't pass a theology test; it is a community of servanthood that can only be enjoyed by a certain kind of character.
Discipleship or obedience is not something we have to cajole people into by obligation or gratitude ("after all, Jesus died for you; the least you can do is deny yourself happiness for a while on earth"), it is simply the process of learning to enter into the good, with-God life. The gospel becomes social as well as personal—not because individuals don't matter, but because to be "saved" means (among other things) to be delivered from the chronic selfishness that contributes to the world's hurt and to my misery.


1 comment:

Mike Sharrow said...

Amen, Amen and again I say Amen!