Wednesday, September 05, 2007
[THO] What is the Gospel?
My buddy Byron posted a series on this recently. Byron started off with a challenge to write down in a sentence or two exactly what is the gospel. I've been thinking about that a lot lately as I have been engaging in a debate with the Living Waters Canada Rep, Chris Curry. Chris has generously sent me a few of Ray Comfort's books which I will endeavour to review here. I've endured a few of Ray's videos and I find him quite offensive actually. Which begs that question - what is the gospel?
Byron does a great job of defining the gospel in terms of the Kingdom of God. Where I want to go is to look at the implications - how do we live out what the gospel is? If we believe that the gospel is essentially only about your personally getting right with God then perhaps Ray Comfort is not so far off in his thinking. But if the gospel is the good news of the Kingdom, as Jesus claims, then it has far greater implications than merely getting folks saved and in the waiting line for heaven. A lot is at stake on our understanding of the gospel.
For me it comes down to what Jesus did. If we want to follow the true way of the master, then it definitely isn't going to boil down to a modern formulaic representation such as Comfortians often employ. As long as it is missing the heart of the gospel - that is good news that the King has come - then it is nothing more than what the Pharisees did when they searched out converts to become twice as good at converting others as they were. Jesus wasn't impressed. Neither should we be impressed. The King changes everything.
So what did Jesus do? Well he healed the sick, drove out spirits, mended relationships, restored dignity, stood for justice, called for repentance, fed the hungry, taught the masses (inside and outside the synagogue!), loved the children, freed prisoners, gave people purpose and meaning... In short Jesus changed everything. So how can we call gospel anything that compartmentalizes a small bit of this? We can't, it is all or nothing. But isn't that What Jesus did for us? He gave everything for us. Paul aptly responds that our only reasonable response is to give our whole selves as living sacrifices.
I was watching one of those videos yesterday, where Ray is berating a young man who dared to admit he believed in evolution. I kept thinking, "what is your point Ray?" I think there is a place for even the law in evangelism. But when that is your only option then you miss the bulk of the richness of what the gospel really is. Why would I believe God loves me after you've just treated me like shit? How can that thought not go through the minds of those accosted with such a stark misrepresentation of God's good news? Maybe I don't get it. Maybe I'm missing something and the books will help me with that. Then again... what is the gospel?