“Isolationism happens when the Gospel continues to be framed solely in ‘doctrinal language’ without its twin sister, ‘doing language.’ In this case an abstraction (ie. how we locally describe it) of the Gospel replaces the Gospel itself (ie. the teachings of Christ plus the doings of Christ). If we know and know very well the true theological concepts of the Gospel we have only crossed the Rubicon half way.
“There are consequences when we do not go the full distance with the outward implications of the Gospel. There are dangers with staying in the middle of that stream. Holding the truth inwardly, but doing little with it within the pagan world outside our door breeds isolationism. This is somewhat like having an awesome recipe for bread; we pull and push the dough; bake it and leave it on a shelf. If we were to serve the bread should we serve it mostly to those with whom we most often eat bread? Does not the Gospel call us into something wider?
“After isolationism sets in, then – whether intended or not – another plaque seems to sweep the camp. Whatever it is it causes sterility. Where strict doctrinists are so busy preserving their doctrine – which is surely a worthy endeavor – we can see they fail to reproduce in themselves or help others reproduce those salutary qualities of the Gospel which Christ Himself beautifully exemplified. The salutary qualities of the Gospel being those things which often attract the lost to the Gospel in the first place – “He eats with outcasts” and “He heals on the Sabbath.” These very tactile aspects of the Gospel commend Christ and us to those who care little for Him.
“This doctrine, the Gospel, is not only for knowing. It is for doing. It just so happens by Anglo-Saxon serendipity that the first two letters in the words “gospel” and “doctrine” are go and do. Co-incidence? Surely, but this angular exegetic is biblically sound – without a doubt on message and on mission.
“We can agree that showing a soul how he can be saved for the entire distance of eternity will give him a priceless good much greater than digging a well in his desert village or setting up a clinic in a jungle settlement. But he still needs clean water in the remaining distance from here to the door of Heaven. There’s a child who still needs a tincture of something to quell her high fever.
“In fact, a man may cross a river to come hear the Gospel tidings when he catches “the good news” that I put in a bridge across that river for him. Now he does not have to row through that swarmy water by dug out. Maybe when he is crossing that bridge to go to market he will say to himself, “Yes, preacher bild dis bridge. I go sell corn, den I go see preacher.”
“For the want of a nail the kingdom was lost – so goes a line of an old tale. The lesson in it is that little things matter. They do, of course, and just this week we can think of a little thing that mattered a great deal. If it was something that could have happened and didn’t or did happen and we are glad of it we can see where it fits in a small chain of events. The conclusion of that series of events was either better or not so good because of this little thing.
“God is sovereign – we believe and we know. And even if we didn’t believe it or know it, it is true. However, sometimes we believe and know that God is sovereign over the chains of all events so much so that we find ways to isolate ourselves from His processes. Maybe it is very much a part of God’s sovereign Gospel process that we would join its process.
“This brings us back to the little itty bitty nail in a very large Kingdom. That nail matters because the Kingdom matters. Our little itty bitty deeds of reaching out to lost needy souls or needy lost souls where they abide (rather than dragging them into our sterile cave) is a sovereignly appointed tool to build a very large Kingdom. More to the point – a sovereignly appointed tool to bring the Kingdom to those who are lost and needy.
In going we must go outside our comfort zone. In doing we must get into the mess of lifting up, sitting with, eating with, playing alongside, running with, listening to lost needy souls or needy lost souls where they are. This makes the Gospel sound so earthy doesn’t it? Yet, who left the blissful realms of Heaven to be birthed into blood soaked rags at a young mother’s feet? And who set His inner focal muscles like a chiseled stone to go die for mankind on the Cross – a bone jarring cross?”
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