Wednesday, January 07, 2004
What is the gospel?
One of Jesus' first messages is "Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand" (Matt 4:17). Easy enough, except that we've tended to flow from one end of that sentence to the other, living in extremes instead of allowing the whole thing to influence our message. Either we focus too much on repent, getting all judgmental and legalistic; or we focus too much on it's here for you, leaving behind the work of repentance and dying to self.
As I look at "evangelism" and the very real need/desire to share Jesus with other people, I just don't know what to do with that message. I mean, I do - but I don't, you know? The blanket message would be something like:
- Repent of always focusing on yourself, living by your rules/opinions/feelings, often to the detriment of others; and grab onto Jesus, right here right now, to live life in the kingdom, right here right now, His way.
But that doesn't fit as easily into the evangelism mantras of today. "God's got a plan and purpose for your life" - who cares? You don't have to trust Him in order to be used by Him (Pharoah, Ex. 4:21, and other passages; Jonah; Judas; etc). And it's got to be more than just avoiding hellfire punishment; and more than success here on earth.
"Repent, and live in the kingdom at hand." That takes discipleship - showing others from our example what the kingdom life is all about. Living in humility and courage, lifting others up beyond ourselves. That's the gospel - right?