It is not uncommon around church circles, for people to have various takes on "what is the gospel." We can all answer, Good News. But what does that mean? I believe, the gospel is this:
God, the creator, sent His son, Jesus, in the flesh to redeem humanity back to Himself through his death and resurrection in order for us to live in intimate community with Him.
I can nuance the phrases and add more meat to it, but bottom line, that is where I stand on the gospel. Incarnation. Redemption. Reconciliation.
But what about hope? You like me have heard the lessons and have taught them. So often I have thought "if only those people knew Christ, their life would be hopeful and fulfilled." Interesting. I am beginning to think that is not as true as I would like it to be. If knowing Christ brings fulfilled lives, then our churches would be full of people who would circle "fulfilled" on the great survey of life. And, the flip side is that non-believers would be desperate in their hopelessness and unfulfillment. Not exactly true. Take Oprah. She is intensely spiritual, not a Christian in my estimation, but a God lover for sure. Do you think she sees her life as hopeless and unfulfilled. What about Katie Couric, Diane Sawyer, Barbara Walters - none of them known Christians and none of them wailing in their own hopelessness or unfulfillment either. What about the guy across the road from me. Nice guy. Friendly. Kind. Non-Christian. Happy. Hopeful. Fulfilled.
Now it would be naive to believe this to be the case in every situation. The world is full of hopelessness and lack of fulfillment. But here is my point. I think if we are going to spread the good news about Christ, it needs to be about what life looks like with Christ. It needs to be about community, about serving something other than ourselves, about sacrifice, about joy and about the kind of hope that comes from Christ. We can not assume that all people who do not know Christ are unhappy, miserable, unfulfilled and hopeless. Many have dandy lives. Our job is to help them see that when our stories merge with the great story of God, something happens. Something bigger than ourselves, something transformational, something more than happiness.
You may agree or disagree. These are just my musings on a Monday morning. I just wonder if what we sometimes spread as good news, is underwhelming to people. If all we are promising is fulfillment and God as the ultimate vending machine, that may not be that attractive to a people who are already quite happy with life. However, if our good news calls them to something more in life, we may have some takers.