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The foolish Gospel

The good news, or “Gospel” of Jesus Christ has always been counter-cultural. Not because it is “out of touch” with society, but because society is out of touch with God. God hasn’t moved, he’s the same yesterday, today and forever. But God has been relegated by society into the realm of private belief. We demand the right to hold our own beliefs and to live our lives the way we want, but we do not tolerate the “imposition” of others’ beliefs. Many people see no need for God, as if “God” is something that can be chosen or dispensed with according to personal preference. As if the Creator, if he did exist, had no right to his opinion, and might not have something worthwhile to say to us or even some right to tell us what to do.

Many people probably have no clear idea about what Christianity is, at its heart; what we mean by “gospel” and how it could possibly be good news. Perhaps the word conjures up images of prejudice, judgementalism, hypocrisy,and killjoys. Perhaps people hate what they hear from the political right in America today, or justly despise the abuse of trust by the established church in terms of civil rights abuses, child molestation and disempowerment of women. Or perhaps they acknowledge and respect the good works of Christians over the years; abolition of slavery, care for the poor, education, the work of the Salvation Army and countless parachurch organisations. But they just don’t care to be preached at, and see no reason why a belief in God is a prerequisite for doing good.

Sadly, the church over the years hasn’t always got things right and yes, that’s an understatement. I’m not going to try to defend “the church” or “religion” as such, but I’m going to focus on the heart of Christianity; Christ and the good news about him.

The gospel, to paraphrase the Apostle Paul, is incomprehensible and ridiculous to those on the outside, yet to those on the inside it is the power of God. God’s wisdom is so different from humanity’s that it looks plain foolish, but conversely, from God’s perspective the world’s wisdom is foolishness and destined to perish. Because the world doesn’t “get” the wisdom of God, God uses what appears as ridiculous to save those who believe him.

Continuing to paraphrase Paul; religious establishments demand proof of legitimacy, and secularists demand scientific evidence, but the actual Gospel preaches Christ crucified, a stumbling block to the establishment and irrationality to society. But to those who respond to the invitation to look deeper, belief in Christ is powerful, wise and life-changing. For the apparent foolishness of God is wiser than that of humanity, and the perceived weakness of God is stronger than humanity. (The Bible: 1st Corinthians chapter 1, verses 18 to 25)

The Apostle Paul spoke for true Christ-followers when he said that the Gospel is not something to be ashamed of, but is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes it; whether they are “religious” or secular. (Romans chapter 1, verse 16).

What is this “Gospel,” then? Here it is in a nutshell. Each aspect is a treasure-trove worthy of in-depth discussion, but here are the basics:

The good news is that God, who is both just and loving, and who created this universe, has not abandoned it when the humans he created in his image turned their back on him, reaping the consequences of their rebellion. God himself entered into humanity in the person of Jesus Christ to reveal himself as the just and loving God. He did this in his life and teachings and ultimately in his death by crucifixion. On the cross, Jesus Christ bore the divine wrath against sin, both by satisfying justice and, through absolute love, removing the condemnation which humanity deserves. He showed his victory over sin and death by rising from death, so that every who associates with the risen Christ, turning from sin back to God as saviour, will be forgiven and stand uncondemned and reconciled to God for everlasting life. This is a free gift from a loving God, which we cannot earn, but which we can gratefully receive.

This is confronting, it is countercultural and on face value it seems absolutely foolish. What's your response? You could ignore it, continue on with your life, reaping whatever rewards you can and enjoying them till you die, and enduring whatever suffering goes along with that, never giving the good news of Jesus Christ another thought. Then as you take your last breath, you can face the ultimate unknown.

But... what if...

it’s true after all?

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