I have a friend of mine in Southern Colorado who I recently went to see. We met in undergrad and have stayed in-touch relatively consistently over the years. He's fairly outdoorsy - enjoys hiking, fishing, skiing, mountain biking, and tends to surround himself with those type of friends. He's got a bird-dog named Beans and plays a pretty good folk guitar. He's a bit of a jack-of-all-trades, career-wise. He's worked for a guy who builds houses and for a local radio station, and currently repairs electronic devices - hardware and software - for a living. However, don't underestimate him. Under a good-ol'-boy persona, lies a very sharp mind and a great wit. He got a 35 on his ACT, all A's in college, and is an excellent public speaker and writer. He can go toe-to-toe with just about anyone in a political debate and has very informed opinions regarding public policy, international affairs, and religion.
What I've told you about this friend of mine might all be true - a relatively accurate depiction of a real person. However, knowing this short paragraph about him gets you very little closer to genuinely knowing who he is. To do this, you would need to come to Pagosa Springs and have some conversations with him, see how he interacts with his son Jackson and his wife Denise. You'd probably need to spend quite a bit of time with him, hearing the timbre of his voice and picking up his turn-of-phrase. In short, my description of him can never come close to the complexity that is, in fact, him!
I'm afraid that, when it comes to our gospel - our good news to the world, we have sometimes settled for the former description instead of striving for the latter relationship. It's easy to reduce the gospel to a human created creed or set of beliefs. I can quickly check it to make sure I'm "in the right" or to find out of someone else isn't. I like the convenience of thinking that as long as I believe the right things, I'm in line with the gospel.
However, our gospel can never be encapsulated in a creed or a statement of faith or a preaching point, because our gospel is a person. The good news for our world isn't that if they believe the right set of axioms then everything will work out; rather, it's that if they, and we, enter into a relationship with this person - allow this person to inhabit our lives, He will radically transform not just us but the world around us.
And, this is the most wonderfully terrifying of propositions the world has ever known: that God would willingly escape the temple walls, reach into our lives, and offer Himself as inhabitor, transformer, and re-creator of our mundane existence. This, friends, is our gospel - our good news - Christ IN us, the hope of glory, the power over sin and death, and the deposit of the new creation.
Come quickly, Lord Jesus..
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