FUNCTIONAL DEFINITION OF THE GOSPEL
The Gospel isn’t a burden and it isn’t to be used to guilt anyone into doing anything.
The Gospel isn’t about “what we do,” it is about “what was done.”
The Gospel isn’t about us, it is about Jesus.
The Gospel is Jesus.
Jesus receives you as you are. Jesus loves you regardless of what you are doing; regardless of what you have done; and regardless of what has been done to you. His love is over everything. He covers you, so that you remain without any blemish or stain.
OBJECTIONS TO THE GOSPEL
“You mean, all the evil people in history could have just said they believed in Jesus and they would now be in Heaven?”
“Oh! So, there is a catch!”
No. The problem is that the premise of your sentence is wrong…err…in many ways. But, we’ll only address a couple.
First, this isn’t sales and marketing. You can’t just say you “like something” and get a free sample. Accepting the Gospel is having faith that Jesus is God and that He is the only source for redemption. Period. It is not more complicated and it is not less complicated, either.
Second, you know your heart and I know mine: we are all degenerate. We all idolize the trappings of this world to the detriment of the people around us. Though we are all evil people, the Gospel is offered to each and every one of us.
“Huh? Yeah, I’m degenerate, but I’m not that bad.”
This can be exhausting. Please make it worth it by listening: You are “that bad.” We are “that bad.” We choose to worship everything but Jesus. We worship our food, our minds, our bodies, our hearts, each other, our children, etc…the list is infinite. We kill and destroy. We hate and fear. We lust and get drunk. We also get sick and die – everything rots and withers. That is the human condition. One day we will answer for every moment of our life. We will answer for every action and thought. We will be rejected if we are not wholly perfect.
We are not perfect. We will not be perfect. We can not make ourselves perfect. Faith that Jesus is God is faith that He is the only source for redemption. That is what saves us.
“Stop! How does that work?!”
Faith in Jesus transfers our debt to Him and (equally important), transfers His righteousness to us.
“Look, you’re using a bunch of stupid words that don’t mean anything to me.”
I honestly don’t believe that. I’d argue that I’m probably using words you care about very much.
“Whatever. I don’t need transferring or anything like that. And, I don’t believe some old middle-eastern-Jewish-dude is gonna be any better than me. Didn’t he marry a whore?”
OK. Stop. Slow down. Jesus is God. He entered His world on His terms and for His purpose. The reason we say “the Gospel is Jesus,” is because to have faith that He is who He said He is (namely God), is to believe that He is the source for everything, including the source for transferring our sins to Himself and His righteousness to us.
“Now you’re talking in circles!”
No. You are thinking in circles. Let me do this again: We are broken and unable to fix ourselves. Just look around you. You can’t keep yourself clean and you’ve never met anyone who could. Granted, you may have met a self-righteous moron who asserted his dominance by suggesting his cleanliness, but that only makes him guilty of pride, arrogance and self-righteousness…at least. There is no peace in this world and there is no peace with this world. Go to the ICU at a near hospital or spend a weekend at the children’s home in your area. Work some “hope and happiness” out of that.
“Look! I am NOT that bad!”
You’re assuming you get to set the cost of the things you have broken and you are also assuming the value of your currency. What is the price tag on each person you let suffer? What is the price tag assigned to your comfort while others go without? What is the price for each person you have shoved out of your way as you climb through life? What about the relationship with your spouse or family, how much is that worth? All of these questions are rhetorical. Long before we ever get to work them out (like a series of equations), what we find is our own rotten core. And, that is without even getting to the real insane stuff that festers in our hearts.
“Aren’t you going against what it says at the top? Aren’t you using the Gospel to give me a burden and guilt me into doing something?”
Now we’re getting somewhere! That question means you are listening. However, again, your premise is wrong. I didn’t lay down any requirements or obligations (so no burdens). All I said was look inside yourself and think about what you see there. If you feel burdened, it is because you created it and found it inside yourself. If you feel guilt, it is because you know the contents of the burden you created and you found that inside yourself.
“Wow. All you talk about is bad stuff. Is there anything happy? I carry enough baggage, I don’t need more!!”
I can’t promise you happiness, but I can promise you hope. Only when we look intently inside ourselves and acknowledge what is there (or more precisely, what is not there!) will we begin to yearn for hope. We drink – to drown that voice. We text/fac-e-book/fritter/etc. until our fingers bleed – just to try mute that screaming voice. We schedule 25 hours of family activities in a 24 hour day – to prevent a free moment where we might hear that voice. Some of us even volunteer for 8 days of Church work in a 7 day week – and assume we don’t need to listen to that voice.
Jesus requires no baggage. Jesus never regards our baggage. Jesus doesn’t paw through our baggage. Jesus isn’t waiting to punish or condemn us for the contents of our baggage. Jesus is waiting with open arms waiting for us. For you. He knows that you need Him and He will not refuse you.
“I’m heartbroken. My life has been a mess. I feel empty inside. I’m so lonely that I gave up a long time ago.”
There is a person who will love you so completely that you will never feel lonely again. He cares about you and not about what you do. You will never feel empty again. He will always be there with love and He will never bring scorn or contempt. He doesn’t care about your mess. His name is Jesus. He is The God of all things. If you want to meet Him, He will come to you anywhere and at anytime. He knows you by name.
OBJECTIVES OF THE GOSPEL
FREE: The Gospel must be free to all or we couldn’t afford it. It cost Jesus everything so that it would costs us nothing. What if there were a price? What if you couldn’t afford it? Then it wouldn’t be good news; it would be a nightmare.
PERMANENT: The Gospel must be permanent or it would simply be a “gerbil-wheel” that we’d get to run on – at some point, we’d give up and quit even trying. If it is not permanent, then it is not good news, it is a list of impossible tasks that we will eventually (if not always) fail at. That wouldn’t be good news; that would be crushing misery.
SUFFICIENT: The Gospel must be sufficient or it would be reduced to one of the thousands of meals that we eat – we’d always have to come back for more. That wouldn’t be good news; that would leave us empty and starving.
PURPOSE: The Gospel must have an infinite purpose or it is nothing more than comic-relief. We are infinitely broken and the purpose of the Gospel is to bring us into an infinite relationship with Jesus, if not, it is an absurd pastime. That isn’t good news; that would be despair.
PERFECT: The Gospel must be perfect or it is just another rule set with limitless caveats and special conditions. Jesus is perfect in all respects. There are no caveats. There are no special conditions. Jesus is everything you will ever need. We will fail Him, but He will never fail us. Otherwise, this isn’t good news, it is just a prison filled with fear of failure and an ever present guillotine looming dreadfully over us.