Wednesday, February 8, 2012

What is the Gospel?

So I've written before on how, as I keep growing and learning, my understanding of the gospel continues to develop. I wrote about a realization that I'd lived with half the gospel for much of my life and how "the good news" is actually a lot bigger than I thought before! I wrote about the main act of salvation being Christ uniting me with Himself, and how that changes my very identity- not just the status of my "ticket to eternity". I wrote about the fact that the reconciliation Christ won on the Cross is not just for my soul but for all of His creation- and how that changes the way I see and treat the environment

In true form, I've written a smattering of thoughts and ideas in an unorganized fashion (AKA diarrhea of the brain. Guilty!) I've written about what I've been learning, which has been in fragments! Well a few weeks ago I heard something that helped bring all of those unorganized thoughts come together and make sense. As I listened, I realized it also helps connect many things Christians say about the gospel, which are seemingly contradictory. 

I'll start by explaining my Christian lingo.  When I say "gospel", what I mean is good news. More specifically, God's good news for the world through the life of Jesus Christ.  This guy at my church said that there are two ways to look at the gospel- from the ground and from the air. The "gospel on the ground" as he called it is personal. It is Christ buying back individual people from death and giving them new life. It's His promise, "come to Me all who are weary and I will give you rest." It's knowing Jesus as my bridegroom, knowing God as my Father.

But then there's the bird's eye view of the whole story, "the gospel in the air." It's the panoramic display of redemption- the whole of creation that belongs to Christ and is reconciled to Him through the cross. It's the already-accomplished but not-yet fully realized lordship of Jesus which will end persecution, slavery, and oppression! It's the "world peace" that we all crave- whether we announce it on national TV in a sparkly ballgown or privately weep for it when a loved one doesn't come home from war. 

Maybe you've known churches that emphasize one over the other. Some churches strongly encourage individuals to share their own stories of how Jesus changed everything with their friends, co-workers, and neighbors. Other churches champion issues of justice such as fighting to end slavery, promoting creation care, and ministering to the poor. The beauty is, they're just highlighting different aspects of the same story! The life of Jesus in our world makes a difference for my personal destiny and it heals the very fabric of human culture.

The gospel is the story that can re-write your own. It invites you to be truly known and deeply loved. It invites you to matter. And yet the gospel is the story that will change the whole world and invites you to be a part of that. It invites you to truly know and deeply love all that God came to redeem. 

Do you know Jesus as friend? Do you know Him as Lord? You are invited.

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