Believe it or not
I wanted to share some old wrinkled-up personal notes that I have lying around about the nature of the Gospel. Sharing them here helps them sink into my brain so that I (hopefully) don’t make a mess of things in the pulpit. Okay, here we go…
- The first thing is that the Gospel doesn’t require anyone to mentally check off any personal beliefs in order to be accepted into some sort of a religious club. The active agent in the Gospel isn’t you or me and what we’re thinking, believing, or doing.
- In the Gospel, the active agent is God. All we can do is live in response to God’s action in Christ. We can pick it up or lay it down, but either way, it just… Is.
- The Gospel is a story about something that has already happened and continues to happen whether I (the someday-pastor) or the person in the pew/folding chair believes it or not.
Also, the Gospel isn’t a roadmap or blueprint of sorts. It doesn’t PREscribe a roadmap to God. Rather, the Gospel is a STORY that DEscribes how God comes to us when we least expect Her to.
And how convenient! You and I both know how good we humans are at following rules and roadmaps (yes, overall, we suck at it; just tell a toddler to NOT touch the stove and see what happens). We are a story/narrative-driven species. And this Gospel story goes something like this…
- In Jesus, God became flesh and came into this world to announce the good news that, contrary to human thought, God is eternally FOR US (amazing!) and all of creation (even amazinger!). God does this to turn us from wickedness and save us from ourselves. This saving action takes place in the midst of our waking life on planet Earth, not merely in some afterlife.
- Jesus was crucified (by humans like us, not some daddy-God in the sky).
- God (the Father) raised God (the Son) from the dead.
- Since Jesus is the personification of Life… And since you and I are alive… We are all included in Jesus’s death and resurrection. In this, our ‘false self’ has been killed, and we have been created anew. From moment to moment to moment. Forever.
- Jesus is still making all things new (aka our ‘savior’). Whenever we find ourselves riddled by our fearful false self (aka ‘Sin’), we can lay it down and know that our identity isn’t in it (aka ‘repentance’ or ‘change of heart’). We can stop identifying with it and allow God to turn us towards our true identity: A beloved child of God with a fleshy beating heart that wants nothing more than to DO love.
- So why not turn to this Christ which is always alive in and around you? Why not entrust your life to this Christ so that you can be ever made new (into more and more ‘you’)?
This is the Gospel story that’s always on offer. Believe it or not.