When we ask ourselves, “What is the gospel?”, there may be a tendency or a desire to want to give a “new” answer…a creative twist to the message of the “good news”. This is logical of course, because we people like to hear a new idea, a new tagline, a new way of updating that which may have grown stale.
The thing with the gospel; however, is that it is timeless. It incorporates the very things that we’ve heard all along: God’s love, God’s mercy, God’s sacrifice. To “sum up” the gospel doesn’t mean a search for something new, but a proclamation of something we that we’ve heard over and over.
16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.
Even these two verses speak to the heart of the gospel message. God loves us. God seeks to show mercy on us. God sacrificed His son for us.
I believe sometimes we, as Christians, may believe the same way about the gospel and yet disagree on the emphasis of the message or then what our response is to it. Sometimes we agree on what the gospel “says”, but don’t live the good news. We don’t always love the world. We don’t always show mercy to others. We don’t sacrifice anything.
I saw this video recently of a talk held at the Pepperdine Lectureships, a “Pep Talk” done by an old friend, Mark Moore, who has spent much of his life as a missionary and a person who seeks to feed the hungry (physically and spiritually). I’d encourage you to click on this link and fast forward to 1:14:00 for his talk on the gospel message.
I think much like Jesus’s example, we are partners in a mission to feed the hungry and give living water to the thirsty. I believe the gospel has more to do with life than it does to do with death. I believe the gospel springs from the love of God and the implications of His love for us. I believe the gospel is that though we have needs and though we lose our way, God is a God of mercy and grace, and lights our path toward the life we are called to. I believe that Jesus, God’s Son, is that way, that truth, that life.
I believe there are hungry among us and that we should eat with them. I don’t believe we are sent to condemn the world, but to help proclaim that God is saving that which is lost, restoring those who are broken, and feeding those who are hungry.