Pastoral Musings from Rain City

it's about 'what is church?' it's about whether 'emergent' is the latest Christian trend or something more substantial. it's musing on what it means to live the city, in America, in community, intergenerationally, at this time in history...

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

What is the gospel?

What is the gospel? I used to scoff at the question, wondering how anyone could ask it who'd been around church life more than a few months. But the older I get, the more I realize that it's really a profound and legitimate question. It seems that I keep discovering new aspects of the gospel, new factsw of light that penetrate previously darkened corners of my own heart, so that I now believe that I will never be able to fully articulate the gospel.

This doesn't mean that the gospel is unknowable. It beings with the knowable story of a God/Man who redeemed the world (redeemed: purchased it back) through his living, and dying, and rising from the dead. All of this makes relationship possible between man and God, and between man and man. This is foundational, and we can know it, understand a large measure of it, and embrace it by faith.

What I'm seeing though, is that the good news only starts there.

It's gladder than we realized. The imagery of homecoming and feast that premeate the Bible remind us that we're made for belonging and celebration and that every effect of sin that steals our intimacy and sense of community will ultimately be destroyed. The result will be a gladness that far trancends even our best moments of intimacy and community.

It's more restorative that we realized. Just what does it mean in Ephesians, when we're told that history is moving towards a climax described as 'the summing up of all things in Christ'? The phrase hints of a universe saturated with glory. Isaiah suggests that such a universe will change the predatory relaitonships in the food chain. Romans suggests that creation itself will finally enter into its truest identity.

It's holier than we realized. So complicit are all of us with sin that I really think we have no idea of a world untainted by fuilt, or shame, or selfishness, or lust. What does it look like when all of that is completely destroyed? It looks like wholeness - holiness. And even the poets can't really describe it, other than to say that there's no need for the sun anymore because the darkness is gone.

The point? On our best days we don't really get it completely. But if we know that we don't get it, know that even our hopes fall short; know that the real gospel is gladder, more restorative, and holier than anything we can even imagine, we become people of wild hope and joy, people who endure the sufferings of the present moment because we're convinced that history is moving towards a grand end.

What is the gospel? It's better thant I can imagine. This is a far cry from the dull gray religion of sour legalists, whose religion is reduced to a list of negations. Embrace the gladness of the gospspel for God's sake - and know the joy of His life every day.


At 6/1/06 19:55, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very well-said! It's amazing to think of intimacy and community that so far transcends even the best, most shining moments that we humans have ever experienced.


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