May 21, 2006

Gospel Leaf

“What is nearest to God is precisely the need of one’s neighbor.”
- Bonhoeffer (as quoted in Hunsington's sermon).

What is the Gospel? This question has plaqued me for quite some time now, especially after reading Dallas Willard's The Divine Conspiracy (which is a must read by the way). I was raised in a conservative, fundamental church and school where I was taught that the Gospel was the forgiveness of sins by Jesus's atoning act on the cross of taking my sins and washing me clean. That was the Gospel. But is that all?

The Good News or Gospel is God's redeeming and healing action in the world made available to all by way of the Kingdom of God. In Jesus, we are restored to our created image, our image to be like God. What I mean is that in Jesus we are made functionally whole so that by grace we are empowered to bring about redemption of all of creation. This is more than forgiveness of sins and more than Jesus dying on the cross, which are important but partial.

The Gospel is heaven on earth NOW. It is the with-God-life, NOW. Salvation here, but not fully realized. Heaven here, but not quite all the way. The Gospel means that those who are raped will be healed, those who are naked will be clothed, those who are hungry will be fed, and those who are voiceless will be spoken for. It means the earth will be healed, corrupt governments will fall, broken economic structures will be redeemed, and that God is bringing in his kingdom as we wait upon Jesus's arrival.

The implications go beyond simple Romans Road evangelism, or getting people "saved" so they can go to heaven. We, the church, as called out followers of God-in-the-Flesh, Jesus, must be like a leaf. Yes a leaf. We are to catch the wind of the Spirit and blow where God takes us. Our call is to God and to our neighbor. That means loving those who will never love you, serving those who will never go to your church, or accept Christ as their Savior. We are not to be conditional, rather we are to blow wherever God is working and join him.

So what is the Gospel?
“What is nearest to God is precisely the need of one’s neighbor.”

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