Last Sunday was about Jesus' temptations. This week was about reclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ.
Reclaiming? Yeah. Christians can forget the Gospel. Gospel does, after all, mean "Good news" - so it makes sense to me that we should remind ourselves the good news of Jesus Christ. What makes this fun is that Jesus, himself, says very little about the Gospel. He states why he came to the world, but he doesn't outline said Gospel piece by piece for our simple intellectual enjoyment. You get a lot of *why* Jesus came - there were plenty of people who thought Jesus was crazy and asked him. Usually he ended up telling parables... which for most of us, is just a cop out right? Or quoting Old Testament scripture (Luke 4). Occasionally he'll make such a simple comment that we balk. Those things aren't actually used to teach anyone. .... in case you can't tell, that last sentence was dripping with sarcasm.
Most Christians rely on one well known person to define the Gospel: St. Paul of Tarsus. Certainly nothing wrong with Paul - he is in the Bible and all. It's just he gets quoted A LOT right now. It is as if the Gospels can't speak for themselves nowadays. Anyway... if we are going to glean wisdom from Paul to tell us about Jesus (as opposed to just letting Jesus speak for himself) then my favorite Scripture would probably be Romans 5 - that Chapter revolves around one simple truth: but God demonstrates his own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Not quite the same "jumping off point" as Jesus in John 3:1-17, but hey, you can't have the good news without explaining why it is good news right? It is good news because (choosing) Christ saves people. Bottom line.
It might sound weird, but I hear more people outside the church yearn for a Gospel that saves people than inside it.
And yes, I just threw the gauntlet down. Jesus did come for these people, after all. It makes sense they'd want him.
Within the walls of many congregations there seems a great desire to look more like Pharisees than Jesus. Have we traded the Gospel for legalism? Is our faith reduced to right beliefs? Or worse yet, not having wrong beliefs? Is it about knocking people down or picking people up? When did it cease being simply Good News and became "Good news for people who live, talk, and breathe a certain way?"
I'm so tired of Jesus' good news being reduced to a formula for determining who is in and who is out. Surely it is more than that. Surely I can spend a lifetime dwelling on the goodness of Christ and the Gospel he brought. Do I have to spend the rest of my life squashing out false Gospels? Or just living/believing/choosing/doing/telling the true Gospel? Surely I can rely on God's grace...
Jesus loves me. I think that's hard enough to accept completely.
Oh, and no doubt someone will see fit to rebuke or reproach me - feel free. It's been one of those days. I'm sure someone smarter than I can amend this minor theological treatise.