Keeping the Gospel Central – my Sunday perspective
Sunday is the day that Christians around the world gather for worship and fellowship in remembrance of Christ’s resurrection from the dead. For me, Sunday is a day in which my ordinary work stops and I don’t bother reading much of the news. As a result, blogging on Sundays will be a little bit different.
Each Sunday morning (with few exceptions, I hope) I will write a brief comment on the Gospel. These comments will vary in scope and content, at times dealing with the Gospel itself, at times the relation of the Gospel to some part of the Church’s life and witness. But their broader purpose will be keep reminding myself, and my readers, of what should always be front and center in our thoughts and actions.
There is a very good reason for this. Inevitably as I write about various controversies, delve into politics or evaluate events, the Gospel itself can recede from view, even if my whole purpose is to think about these matters in its light. No doubt those of you who graciously yet faithfully read my blog will disagree with me from time to time, sometimes strongly. I will be wrong sometimes, though obviously I will never try to be. Stepping back once a week and looking at the big picture will help remind us why we listen to each other, and why we need to keep humility. We are all the sinners, saved by Christ, seeking to do our best to reflect and act on what that means in our lives.
Today, the first Sunday in the history of this blog, Christian in America, I simply want to step back and remember the history and the calling that has made us Christians in America in the first place. The word Gospel means good news, and in our minds we should think of it as just that: an almost “too good to be true” report about real events that have changed the course of history. We find our identity in those events, and thus we think of ourselves first and foremost as Christians. Our highest loyalty is to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and our most basic calling is to testify in our lives and words to who he is, what he has done, and what it means for the world. This we do whether we tell others about the Gospel or whether we seek to promote our neighbors welfare in our common secular affairs.
What is the basic Gospel? It is that in love God sent his own son into this world as a human being. Though he was the final king in the dynasty of David, he came not in triumph and judgment on Israel’s enemies, but in mercy and compassion. As a result of God’s love, Jesus died to pay the price of sin, not only for our sins, but for the sins of the whole world. God then raised him in proof that despite his seeming defeat Jesus had won the victory. All that Jesus said about the kingdom of God, and all the love that he demonstrated in his life, is the future of the world, and of humanity. Those who place their faith in him, and therefore find their identity in him, become a part of that future. Those who do not will face their king when he returns to judge the world with perfect justice, holding everyone accountable for what they have done. For human beings struggling in a world of injustice, disease, disappointment, and death, it is good news indeed to know that such struggles are not our destiny. For human beings destined to face the judgment of a just God, it is good news to know that we can be forgiven.
In all that I write on this blog I try to reflect this reality. Jesus is the future of the world. The purpose of the Church is to lead men, women, and children to turn from injustice and to find their salvation in him. Whether by proclaiming the Gospel in our worship and church life, or by promoting the immediate welfare of our neighbors and communities in this life, we witness to the good that God has in store for his world.