I agree with N. T. Wright that modern Christians tend to misread the Gospels. I think there are many reasons for this and many ways in which it happens.
One instance of it is how we miss that the story of Israel and the reality of the Kingdom of God are central for the Gospel writers.
Personal conversion, or individual response, to the proclamation of “the gospel of the Kingdom” is indeed necessary. But this expectation of obedient response is a call to repent and enter the Kingdom of God, the new reality that creates new individuals, new communities, new patterns of life, new relationships, new uses of personal property, new social patterns, and new relational dynamics—all under the gracious reign of a radically different sort of King.
That corporate reality was to be the realization of all that God called Israel to be in the Scriptures—a corporate people that embodied in its national social patterns, economic behaviors, housing policies, and agricultural practices the very life of the Creator God on earth.
The Gospels have everything to do with God’s vision for Israel and its fulfillment in the arrival of the Kingdom of God, and therefore, the Gospels have everything to do with renewed holistic human behaviors.
In my opinion, Christians miss the story of Israel and the reality of the Kingdom of God when we read the Gospels because it’s far easier to cultivate private piety than to participate in and play a role in bringing about community transformation.
I think Christians have learned to misread the Gospels in order to avoid Jesus’ demands for ongoing repentance and change of life on individual and corporate church levels.
Resistance to hearing and reading the Gospels faithfully is pervasive in evangelical Christianity. This is partly due to well-worn practices—we’re just not used to seeing these dominant realities there.
I would suggest, however, that another major factor is that seeing these realities threatens to upset and destabilize our church community dynamics that have become very predictable and comfortable. Very simply, contemporary Christians—evangelicals included—are too threatened by the Gospels to read them for what they’re actually saying.