The Why of the Gospel
At the beginning of the month, I wrote about the kindness of God, it has been a subject I’ve been hung up on since. You see, I don’t experience a lot of kindness within corporate Christianity. What I mean by that is that there is a lot of interpersonal kindness, but Christianity’s “messaging,” for lack of a better term, or the top level communications that are released on behalf of Christianity is basically devoid of kindness. This can be seen in the messages that are representative of Christianity’s stance on gay marriage, abortion, etc. What I’ve found is that people may agree with the doctrinal or theological stance of such statements, but find themselves repulsed by the harshness of the message. As I wrote about on Monday, what we can say, and what we should say are two different things.
The larger issue, in my mind, is that we as Christians are more concerned with the What of the Gospel and not the Why of the Gospel. There is a book called “Start with the Why” by Simon Sinek. In it, he explains that as organizations, or cultures, or even countries grow, people start focusing on the What more than the Why. In the video below, he explains that at some point, there is a shift in the values of a group of people, that causes them to start focusing on different measurements for success than when the group began. He uses corporations as an example: a group of founders get together, and start a company based on their desire to accomplish something. They are strong on the Why of their company. Why they are doing it matters almost more than What or How they are doing it. However, after a period of time, they start measuring success based on How they do business, or the tools they use to do it, which would be the What.
It seems that Christianity is in a similar position. Why we do what we do, which, I would argue is the Gospel, becomes less important than How we do it, or What we do.
One of the most enlightening parts of Sinek’s talk, is when he explains how in the 1980′s, the business world shifted, and people became the sacrifice to balance the books. This was something new to the world. People, for the first time, were expendable. Company’s had lost their Why. Instead of being focused on providing their employees sustainable, fulfilling work, they now answered to shareholders, or a financial bottom line.
I can’t help but feel the same way about Christianity. We so rabidly defend our doctrine, our What, that people become expendable to protect it. Examples of this are never far in the Church corporate. Just watch what happens when a pastor, or elder in a church admits to, or is caught in a grievous sin. They are summarily dismissed and ostracized from the community. They become a liability to the What of the church, and not an opportunity to display the Why.
The Why of the Gospel takes a different approach. Is not the Gospel meant for people that are in sin? Is not grace and forgiveness given by God for such people? I count myself among those needing it, and I’m guessing you do as well.
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What do you think?