When you drive, you know to watch your blindspots when you're changing lanes and making turns. If you don't, and you drive with tunnel vision, then you'll likely cause an accident. A similar idea is true for life. Get too focused on things a certain way, and you might miss something important. I think this has happened to for a lot of us in the USA in regards to the Gospel.
Gospel of Personal Salvation
Much of what we have grown to understand to be the Gospel is that through Faith in Christ, your sins are forgiven and you are saved. It is a very personal message. I don't think it's a wrong message or a false Gospel. I'm just not sure it's the WHOLE Gospel. I think it's great that you can personally know our Savior, the Living God, Jesus Christ. I think it's great that my sins, your sins, our past mistakes are each forgiven and washed clean. This frees us for new life in Christ. I'm just worried that we aren't getting the whole picture. We've developed tunnel vision.
For those who focus on Personal Salvation, the Gospel is summarized as "Jesus died for me." They see the beatings he took, the cross he bore, the mocking he withstood, the painful death he died, and see it as something God the Son does, or allows to happen to himself in order to take on my sins. The problem I have with that being the only way to see it is that it misses the power struggle the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) describe to us.
Yes, it is sin, evil, injustice and oppression that nails Jesus to the cross. Specifically, it is the Sin, Injustice, Evil, Greed, Oppression of the Roman Authority and Jewish Ruling Elites (Pharisees, Sadducees, Teachers of the Law, et al.). Jesus was a rebel. Leading a peaceful rebellion and uprising. He threatened those in Power and Influence, mainly the Jewish Ruling Elites. Jesus was like a prophet telling the Pharisees, "Hey, you can't practice your religion and think you're a good person while ignoring "the least of these," like blind beggars, prostitutes, etc. They were keeping the "least of these" away from God, and doing it in God's name. The Jewish Ruling Elites' blindspot was their collusion with the Roman Authority to keep systems of oppression in place so they could keep their power and influence. Overlooking "the least of these" in the name of their religion didn't seem like a problem to them. They were "good people" doing what they were supposed to do in order to "keep the peace." Jesus came proclaiming a Gospel of Peace saying, "The Kingdom of Heaven (not Rome) is at hand."
I'm Worried We Have The Same Blindspot
I'm worried we have the same blindspot. I think our USA, Western culture, has shaped us to be overly individualistic. We have been unknowingly formed to be concerned with our individual salvation and our personal sins (mistakes/failures) and how to fix them. We miss the greater power of God at work that God isn't just saving individuals, but he is also redeeming all of creation. When you see the terrible beating that Jesus takes in the movie "The Passion of the Christ," or when you read the narrative in Matthew 27, know that's what Corrupt Power does to peaceful people who stand against it. The tears you shed from seeing or reading about the suffering of our Savior shouldn't just be about "what he endured for me," but also about the pain and suffering the world afflicts on "the least of these" (reference Matthew 25). I weep when I read the passion narrative(s) because I see the world still doing the same things: Greed, Corruption, Abusive Power. They are all still at work, and I contribute to the mess.
Why Is This Important?
Examining this potential blindspot is important because you might be unknowingly be shouting along, "Crucify Him!" and encouraging the suffering. I'm not talking about the personal sins you've committed, the mistakes you've made that you feel guilty about. I'm talking about the systems that you participate in daily that you can't escape. Systems that oppress and cause suffering in our world. Things that you'd rather not know about that go on so you can have a clear conscience. Examining this allows you to "carry out your salvation" (Philippians 2:12) and make choices to stand up and speak for "the least of these", the poor, the oppressed, the suffering, the voiceless, the powerless.
The Good News
Two important pieces of The Passion narrative(s) to not forget in regards to this. First, when hanging on the cross, Jesus says, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." It is pretty much impossible to extract yourself from the systems of sin at work in our world. But with God, all things are possible. Christ still forgives. We do our best until the work is completed and Christ comes again in final victory. Take the time in prayer to reflect on this potential blindspot, a time of confession. Let Jesus' words wash over you, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do."
Also, remember Peter? He denied knowing Jesus publicly, not once, not twice, but three times. Jesus forgave him too, and made him the "rock" the leader of the Church. Take the time in prayer to reflect on this potential blindspot, a time of confession. Hear Jesus asking you like he asked Peter: "Do you love me? Then feed my sheep." Let those words set you free to engage our world with the power of God's love in Christ Jesus.
I am a Software Developer, a career shift made in 2018. So far, I have experience with C# .Net and Angular. I continue to let curiosity lead me into learning new technologies. I plan to share what I learn along the way about technology and personal/career life. Previously, my vocation was United Methodist pastor. So in addition to coding, I'll share about theology, the Church and The Bible. I also enjoy running, music, and I'm a deeply committed father and husband. Maybe my experiences will help you. I know it helps me to share.