Religion says, if I obey, God will love me. Gospel says, because God loves me, I can obey.
Religion has good people and bad people. Gospel has only repentant and unrepentant people.
Religion values a birth family. Gospel values a new birth.
Religion depends on what I do. Gospel depends on what Jesus has done.
Religion claims that sanctification justifies me. Gospel claims that justification enables sanctification.
Religion has the goal to get from God. Gospel has the goal to get God.
Religion sees hardships as punishment for sin. Gospel sees hardship as sanctified affliction.
Religion is about me. Gospel is about Jesus.
Religion believes appearing as a good person is the key. Gospel believes that being honest is the key.
Religion has an uncertainty of standing before God. Gospel has certainty based upon Jesus’ work.
Religion sees Jesus as the means. Gospel sees Jesus as the end.
Religion ends in pride or despair. Gospel ends in humble joy.
I think that’s exactly right.
I also know that nearly every Christian will say that he or she is on the side of Gospel. You did, didn’t you?
That makes me wonder how useful this truth is. In fact, I think it reiterates the lies we tell ourselves. If you read “The Half-Born,” you’ll know what I mean.
As I see it, we tend to place Religion at the letter A in the alphabet and think that by getting to letter B we’ve somehow attained the Gospel. Yes, we may no longer be at A, but the truth is that B isn’t really the full Gospel, either. The Gospel’s out way past letter Z. We’ve hardly taken a baby step toward Z and yet we’re crowing that we’re no longer at A. Sad to say, for too many of us, we get to B, think we’ve arrived, and therefore never get out beyond Z where the deep well of the Gospel lives.
That failure to get out past Z is what “The Half-Born” is all about.
So yes, we may not be entirely mired in Religion, but neither are we abandoned to the Gospel. We get a good feeling by saying we’ve arrived, but…