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Keeping the Faith

In matters of faith, keep your eye on the ball

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Ronnie McBrayer is responsible for this content, which is not edited by the Wilson County News or

February 28, 2011 | 2,086 views | 17 comments

“You talk a whole lot about Jesus,” an interviewer said to me. I was glad to hear this remark, for talking “a whole lot about Jesus” is my intention. He continued, “But when are you going to talk about the Gospel?” That is when my face fell like ice cream sliding off a cone. I couldn’t give him an answer, because for me, Jesus himself is the good news of the Christian Gospel.

Just what was it that my interviewer wanted to hear that he considered “the Gospel?” I think -- this is my best guess -- that he wanted me to use my pen and platform to give some type of revivalistic altar call. I think he wanted me to talk exclusively about how we get to go to heaven when we die. That was his definition of “the Gospel.”

I’m guilty of serious oversimplification here, I know, but for many believers, the Gospel is a “get-out-of-jail-free” card. It is a heavenly bus that carries the beloved over the horizon of death into glory-land, and Jesus is reduced to being the bus driver or the ticket agent.

Now, hold your fire --and your fiery e-mails -- I’m not saying there are no pearly gates or that there is no heavenly dimension to the Gospel. I’m just saying there is more to it than that. The Gospel is more than an insurance policy whereby one has to die to enjoy its benefits. The Gospel is for today as well.

The good news that Jesus proclaimed in the deserts of Palestine was not one that simply got people into heaven; it was one that got heaven into people. “Do you want to go to heaven when you die” was not his invitation. His invitation was, “The kingdom of God is at hand. Follow me.”

It is awfully easy for us who are Christians to get distracted from this, but Jesus did not say, “Follow a particular church denomination, pastor, or preacher.” He did not say, “Read the Romans-Roads, walk the revival aisle, and pray the preprinted, scripted prayer.” He did not say, “Memorize the Creeds and go to Sunday School or attend Catechism.” He said, “Follow me.”

The essence of Christianity is not the baking of our pies-in-the-sky or some hoped-for rescue lest we are Left Behind.ô Its core is not the Ten Commandments, the New Testament, or the interpretations of today’s Christian leaders. The crux of Christianity is Christ. All these others things -- well-intended as they may be -- should point us to Him, not distract us from truly following Him.

Think of it like this: When I was young I had a little Brittany Spaniel named Max. Max was loving, energetic, smart, and apparently suffered from Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. He was so excitable and eager he couldn’t stay focused on anything. He probably would have benefited from some doggie-Adderall.

What I remember most about Max -- and your dog may do this too -- is what happened whenever I tried to teach him a new trick. Say I threw a ball for Max to retrieve. What was he doing at the time? Not paying attention, no, Max was chasing a butterfly or eyeballing the neighbor’s cat, or in the split second it took to throw the ball, he had gnawed the tires off my dad’s car. He was always distracted.

I would go over to him and point at the ball, knowing that if he would just see it -- just once -- he would go get it. “Max, get the ball!” I would say, and then I would wildly shake and point in that general direction. But where would Max look? Exasperatingly, he would always look at the end of my finger, and never get an eye on the ball.

Let’s not lose sight of what is most important. If we are focused on anything except Christ, then we are focused on the end of the finger. Look beyond these pointers to the One who is the beginning and end of our faith. Look to the One who is the very definition of the Gospel.

Ronnie McBrayer is the author of Leaving Religion, Following Jesus. He writes and speaks about life, faith, and Christ-centered spirituality. Visit his website at
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Your Opinions and Comments

March 2, 2011 10:46am
loose nut on the keyboard :) ignore the grammer and spelling errors folks, every now and then the boss walks in got to at least look like i am working. haha

March 2, 2011 10:44am
alvin, i believe the signs they are holding in wisconsin is a picture of a closed fist with the unions abbreviation under it, it is the EXACT same sign that the ISO uses (international socialist organization) only difference ... More ›

4th Generation Texan  
Sutherland Springs  
March 2, 2011 9:51am
Of course you can. Anti Christ is a commonly used concept to reference an entity that will defeat Christianity and dominate the world with its own belief. And, Muslims say that all the time...they want to transform the world ... More ›

4th Generation Texan  
Sutherland Springs  
March 2, 2011 9:48am
Ken, you really got that right!

Ken Mills  
March 2, 2011 9:47am
You don't see the irony in Government strikers carrying Obama/Biden "hope and Change" Signs? God, the people on these commentaries are getting more stupid all the time!

New Guy  
Wilson County  
March 2, 2011 7:55am
Alvin Charmaine, just ignore her! She's off her meds and not worth the time....Just a pitiful old woman.

Alvin Charmaine  
March 2, 2011 5:54am
Interesting that you think people carrying hope and change signs are evil, but not some creep trolling the internet wishing death on muslims and talking about how much he hates people and doent believein Jesus. Lol. Duh. Yeah ... More ›

4 th Generation Texan  
Sutherland Springs  
March 1, 2011 8:55pm
If I was a "Devil Lover", I'd be in Wisconsin acting stupid, carrying an "Obama/Biden for Hope and Change" Sign, and screaming that The Wisconsin Governor is Hitler reincarnated. LOL!

Alvin Charmaine  
March 1, 2011 6:59pm
Devil lover.

4 th Generation Texan  
Sutherland Springs  
March 1, 2011 6:39pm
Then call it ignorant if that will make you sleep better tonight. Personally, I don't give a rats *ss what you think.

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