Occasionally something comes out on the news that reminds me of how the gospel can be reshaped and misused to become something other than about the self-giving love of Christ.
Recently I read of a pastor in Arizona who preached a controversial sermon entitled "Why I Hate Barack Obama" in which he shared with the congregation how he prayed for our president to die. He is quoted as saying "If you want to know how I'd like to see Obama die, I'd like him to die of natural causes ... I don't want him to be a martyr, we don't need another holiday. I'd like to see him die, like Ted Kennedy, of brain cancer." Here is the full story with video footage at Pastor Reiterates Wish for President Obama to Die.
How can a gospel of love become so twisted? What is going on in the hearts of a church that has replaced Christ's call to love enemies and pray for those who challenge us with a call to hate and wish death upon others?
The truth is that in lesser and more subtle ways, we are prone to do the same. In a highly anxious culture during a highly anxious time in history, we do not let the gospel enter so deeply into our hearts that it brings wholeness and healing to our brokenness. We'd rather reinvent the truth than have God's truth reinvent us. So we have continue Christendom's repeated journey of creating the latest inventions in alternative spirituality, from humanism to fundamentalism, from "name it and claim it" to prosperity spirituality. We become dissasociated from the vast mystery of God's love. Yet God is calling us, beckoning us back to the waters of grace.