Friday, July 07, 2006

Galatians 1 Gospel Branding

Tonight we are going to talk about the Gospel and Gospel Branding. What do you think of when you hear the word BRANDING?

When I was growing up this related to an experience of trying to hold down a calf that weighed about as much as I did knee on its neck while my Grandpa pulled a brand from the fire and scorched the fur and skin of the poor calf. It would ball and the worst part for me was the stench. The purpose was to show a distinction of ownership.

Now branding might more readily bring to mind the marketing techniques of a company to distinguish their product or service. We currently have a culture of BRANDING. We will use Taco Bell as an example: Old buildings to New buildings
· Make a run for the border.
· Nothing ordinary about it.
· Cross the Border.
· Fetch that food!
· Taste that food! Dong!
· Change Is Good
· Want some?
· Yo quiero [I want] Taco Bell.
· Think outside the bun.
· Spice up the night.
· Good To Go
Co Branding
· Pizza Hut and KFC;
· Taco Bell/Long John Silver's
· A&W/Taco Bell

In the early church there is some BRANDING and REBRANDING and Co BRANDING going on. Paul in Galatians is pretty TOed about this. Before he became the Apostle Paul, was known by the name of Saul, and he was a fanatical Jew who persecuted and killed the first Christians. He was a feared man by the first followers of Christ. On the road to a town by the name of Damascus, Saul was struck by lightning and was blinded. During that experience with the bolt of lightening, God penetrated the rigid shell of Saul’s life and he was transformed. Christ got into his heart. The Gospel got into his heart. Eternal life. Forgiveness. A life of love.
Have you seen this transition from Slavery to Sin or the Rules to a life of Freedom? Have you felt it like a wind through your own soul?

The Apostle Paul then begins to uncoupled Christianity from the rules, regulations and rituals of Judaism; from the circumcision of Judaism. Therefore, Spanish Christians could be Spanish. Gallic Christians could be Gallic. Roman Christians could be Roman. None of these new Christians needed to become Jewish in order to be Christian.

However their have always been these attempts to remove this freedom and enslave the gospel to a particular culture and Time (to Brand it).

What is the Gospel? The Good News of Human Salvation Through the Trinity through History

Galatians 1:3 Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, 4 who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, 5 to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

1. The creation story: humans as Eikons) of God (created in the Imago Dei.
Communicated by the words OUR FATHER2. The fall story: humans as cracked Eikons (fallen).
Communicated with the words sin and a need for rescue3. The story of God with his people: Israel’s history and the Church’s history.
All this is done “according to the will of God”4. The Cross: where the story of God’s work finds its focus,
Paul says he gave himself for our sins
5. The Resurrection: where the story of God’s work is unleashed with power.
We have been rescued from the evil of this Age or Kingdom
6. Pentecost: where the story of God’s work is spiritually empowered.

The gospel story taken from here and then branded over and over again. It starts with the Jewish Christians. Then the Romans want the ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH. Then the Protestants start their own branding process. Currently their Hundreds of recognized Denominations that create their own Brands of the Gospel to distinguish themselves from others.

This is not a black and white issue for me. I don’t think we can label denominations as totally Bad or evil. But I was challenge by Paul’s words this week.
In verse 10
Am I now trying to win human approval, or God's approval? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.

I think we need to be extremely careful about letting the Gospel become a servant of people. The people in power or the people in need. I want to illustrate this by walking through the story of the Gospel and showing how some people emphasis just one part of the story and it becomes a NEW BRAND

Some preach what I call a Creation Day Only gospel: they focus on humans as made in the image of God, the Eikon of God, and they see nothing but potential, potential, potential. They see human goodness — and there is plenty to see — and they see human development — and there is plenty to see. And that is all they see.
Universalists have BRANDED this part of the Gospel and sell it well.
Most Agnostics hold to this Gospel of their own goodness.

Others believe in what I call a Fall Day Only gospel: they focus on humans as sinners, as polluted morally, as messed up mentally, as disturbed in the soul, and as unconquerable in the body. In other words, they see nothing but problems, problems, problems. And that is all they see. This, too, distorts the gospel.
This Gospel has actually been Branded by Many groups to create a sense of superiority over the UNBELIVER. The unbeliever is incapable of anything good until the believer swoops into save the day. This gospel has opened the door to slavery and oppression. Those without the gospel are considered utterly BAD and BROKEN.

Humans are both good and bad. They are not all good with some bad, or all bad with some good. Ordinary humans are capable of being both majestically good and miserably mean. A gospel worth believing will affirm both.

Others preach a Good Friday Only gospel: they see everything happening at the Cross. The gospel is about forgiveness, forgiveness, forgiveness. I affirm that Jesus died for us, but having my sins cancelled (or whichever term you want to use) is not enough: God wants to do more for us than simply erase our problems. Some see nothing but the Cross. I have no desire to minimize the Cross, but a Good Friday Only gospel is not enough because for the Bible it was not enough.

Let us say that we have done something mean to our spouse: being forgiven is not what we want. What we want is total reconciliation, not simply the erasure of what we did. Forgiveness brings us back to level, and we want to ascend into the presence of God.
Others preach an Easter Day Only gospel: Jesus rose for our sins to liberate us from death and sin. This, too, is not enough. The gospel is more than liberation: it is liberation from a particular problem: Eikonic distortion. We want to be liberated, not for the sake of liberation, but for the sake of becoming what God made us to be: Eikons who, when pressed, give off God’s glory. An Easter Day Only gospel distorts the gospel because it liberates for the sake of freedom and not for sake of Eikonic restoration.

This BRAND can be recognized by lots of references to Heaven. The whole point of the Gospel story becomes saying a prayer that Gets your butt into heaven. For many in the Evangelical movement this has become their Battle Cry. Time is short people need to Confess and be Saved. The thing I found in High school is that after may of my friends were saved. They soon returned to life as usual, but with a sense of eternal security. They had this personal liberation that could be lived however they wanted.

Finally, others preach a Pentecost Day Only gospel: Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to flood us with his presence. Now, for some this becomes the Ecstasy Gospel of exaggerated experiences, for others it becomes the Empowerment Gospel of Power. The Spirit is designed by God to empower us to become Eikonic in all we do. The Spirit enables us to transcend who we are now so we will become more of what we will be and what we can be.
To suffer or have pain is a simple lack of faith.

Over the next few weeks we want to keep talking about the Whole Gospel Story, for the Whole Person, for the Whole World.

What BRAND of the Gospel did you grow up around, and how did it treat the other BRANDS?


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