Recently, my wife and I have come to struggle with the same question. What exactly is the gospel? Now we have both been committed Christians for many years, but for some reason, both of us have felt the need to see Christ in a new way. We lost sight of the gospel of Christ, and this post is an attempt at explaining my thoughts on refinding it, not redefining it. Before you continue reading, keep in mind, this is not an attempt to exegete scripture. Go read the bible. This is yet another dissection of what we take for granted in our faith, and a desire to get to what is real.
In church services around the country and the globe, pastors and priests give sermons every Sunday, highlighting, explaining, and using the gospel. But so many of them say so many different things. To some, the gospel means loving everyone around us as Christ loves us. To others, it means we are to be emissaries to everyone of the truth of Christ, the good news we have to carry to anyone we meet. To still others the gospel is hope for the poor and marginalized, a rallying cry for social activists. And to yet others, the gospel is the joy of the saved and the kind-hearted. The peace and joy of good people.
Speaking frankly, I’m confused and a little sick of it. When I read the gospel, Idon’t see the same things. I see my Lord alone in the middle of the night, sweating literal blood, in the greatest agony of all time, begging his father to save him from the horror of crucifixion. This is the most gruesome and powerful psychological thriller of all time. God let his body get ripped to shreds so that anyone who desires to be with him and be free of the sins of their nature could be saved.
So first question. What does that have to do with the poor? Now don’t get me wrong, I fully support generosity to the poor and the church is meant to be a force for serving and loving on the less fortunate. But my savior did not die to feed the hungry, he died to save the rich and the poor alike. Don’t tell me that the gospel means I should volunteer at a soup kitchen. Don’t tell me that the gospel is good news to the poor. I reject your callous disregard of the rich and the comfortable. I reject fixation on easy targets. Call out to those who will not listen or their blood will be on your hands. Seek the lost, even if they are millionares. The Lord’s transforming work draws us to care for those in need, but that transformation itself is for some our hearts, not our wallets.
Secondly, why are we fixated on the gospel being oriented towards good people? The gospel is specifically for bad people. The criminals who rob, the drunkards and drug addicts, the broken and abused, the murderers and the pedophiles, these are the people who need the gospel the most. But our pride and disgust pushes us not only to disregard but to hate these people. Love your enemies. Did we forget that? Love the people who are rude to you, who hurt you. Don’t just spread the gospel to the eager and the kind, spread it to the callous and wicked.
Lastly, The gospel doesn’t necessarily mean that every person is a constant and specific evangel. Evangelism like the early apostles is biblical a spiritual gift, not a spiritual requirement. Find a place to spread truth and love people, find the way God is calling you to serve him. Seek him, know him, let him guide you. To all the pastors who preach ever other Sunday that we are all in sin if we aren’t on the streets preaching. Shut up. That isn’t biblical, and it isn’t helpful. The Lord puts us in different roles and places, encourage evangelism and service, don’t force guilt into the hearts of the innocent. Lead your sheep to Christ, not your next church expansion project. Seek God’s will for people not your own. Be a shepherd, not a motivational speaker.
Find Christ. Find hope. Find the Gospel. That is what matters.
With love and tears,
The Indefinable Emotion