In 2006 and 2008, I was a candidate for the United States House of Representatives for the district covering Orlando, Florida — the place I was born, reared, and spent all my adult life.
During the campaign one night at a “meet & greet” at a friend’s home, I answered questions from the twenty or so people attending. Most of them were part of a Christian church and professed belief in the Gospel of Christ.
One of the questions was from a man who, along with his wife, shared a high profile in the community and their church. His question was, “Charlie, what will you do about illegal immigration on the southern border?”
This wasn’t a new question, yet it is one that has no simple, easy answer that can be implemented. At the time a popular response from many was “build a wall” or “deport them.”
I replied, “What do you think we should do?” He answered, “Build a wall.”
I asked, “How high would this wall be?” He said, “30 feet” to which I replied, “What do we do if they use 40-foot ladders to climb over?”
Without pausing he said, “Shoot them!” And I could tell he was in earnest. I said, “On that answer we part company as Americans and as Christians.”
I didn’t get his vote and went on to lose both races — thank goodness.
Several weeks after the last campaign, while thinking back on this episode, a question came to mind. How did someone with my same background in the community and the church come to believe that a valid Christian position on immigration was to shoot the strangers for trying to get into our country?
His belief was, unfortunately not an isolated incident. It was one of many times where I noticed a lack of Christian love and compassion in people professing Christ as Lord.
These compassion-less beliefs covered a wide range of issues. Like caring for “the other(s)” – strangers, outcasts, the homeless, the sick, and children. Or by embracing the hatred of war, racism, Islamophobia, nationalism, sexism, and abuse. All of these are addressed by God and Jesus throughout the Bible.
Followers of Jesus, the Christ, should not only have a sensitive heart for these issues, they are commanded to stand up and fight against them wherever they occur — in their life, their family, their community, and their government. And failing to be engaged with these “least of these” comes at great peril to eternal salvation.
Yet, these are good people, well respected in family, community, and church. What happened to them?
Knowing the power and promises of Jesus to affect the lives of those who follow Him, I concluded that it had to be that they weren’t taught, or taught well, why Jesus took on human form — to bring the kingdom of God to earth in the lives of those who would follow His example. In His closing charge to His followers, He said,
Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely, I am with you always, to the very end of the age.
Matthew 28:19 – 20
When read and understood as it is recorded, and when taken in the context of Jesus’s recorded life, words, and works, this clearly means to do what He did and said. This is not a suggestion. It is a command.
How could it be that seemingly dedicated Christians didn’t follow Jesus in this way, unless the church didn’t stress the teachings and acts of Jesus as being a critical, equal part of the Gospel to the salvation assured by belief in the risen Christ?
With that conclusion I became what my 30-something kids call “woke” to the fact that evangelical protestant churches in America were not stressing the life, words, and works of Jesus as being necessary for a believer to belong. And with that, I embarked on a mission to discover how the evangelical protestant churches in America had forgotten the Gospel of Jesus.
Yes — I was now fully woke to a problem facing the evangelical protestant church in America. I decided to explore how and why the church had let that happen, and what could be done to bring the Gospel of Jesus back to its powerful and proper position as a primary part of the complete Gospel of Jesus, the Christ.
This is My Prayer
God, please use me to encourage church leaders to embrace the Complete Gospel of Jesus, the Christ, reminding them that it is the unique role of the church to usher in the kingdom of God on earth by our actions, with our resources, through our love and lives of compassion, until the whole church cares about the whole Gospel in a whole new way, through the local church.
Charlie is founder of Making Faith Matter, a movement to help the local church return to the Complete Gospel of Jesus, the Christ. This is expressed best by Jesus when He taught us to pray, “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.” Charlie's new book “Reclaiming the Forgotten Gospel of Jesus” explores what could happen when churches adopt establishing the “Kingdom of God on earth” as their primary purpose. Learn more...
Reclaiming the Forgotten Gospel of Jesus
For decades, evangelical protestant churches in America have preached a salvation-centric Gospel of Christ. Today, a majority of protestants believe this is the complete gospel, and their churches have aligned their teachings to “seek and save the lost” only. In doing so, they relegated the life, words, and works of Jesus to secondary, non-gospel status.
But, what if the story of Jesus, passed down to us in the New Testament (especially Mark, Matthew, and Luke), describing His life, actions, death, and resurrection, is true? What if it accurately portrays the whole story of Jesus, the Son of God, as He lived among us? What if He still lives with us, showing us how to live out the kingdom of God on earth?
What if Jesus’s life was a living gospel, as He said it was, yet it has been forgotten by the evangelical protestant churches in America? And if this forgotten gospel has been ignored, what should the church do about it?
The purpose of this book is to explore how the life, words, and works of Jesus can bring churches, pastors, denominations, and members back to the Complete Gospel of Jesus, the Christ.