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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

What is Gospel?

For most of my life as a follower of Jesus, I have understood gospel to mean, "the good news." While this definition is accurate, I no longer consider it appropriate.

Here's what I mean. When you and I hear the word "news", we tend to think immediately of WORDS. We read "the news" in a paper- column after column of words. We watch "the news" on TV- 30 or 60 minutes of talking heads telling us all about local stories, weather and sports. We ask others to catch us up on "the news"- fully expecting a verbal report of what has gone on in their lives.

Because of all this, it is only natural for us to think of Gospel, the good news, as being a matter of words. We believe in these powerful words about Jesus, what he has done, and what he can do in our hearts. The problem with this, in my mind, is that we have come to put our faith in words- great words, mind you- but nonetheless, still words. These words come in all shapes and sizes- in creeds, worship songs, and even the pages of the Bible.

If you read through the gospel of Mark, you will be surprised at how little Jesus talks. You may also be surprised at how much Jesus does- he goes places, he heals the sick, he raises the dead. What you encounter in Jesus is a Gospel, not of words, but of power. I would argue that the only reason people were listening to His words was because they had seen His power. Jesus came in the power of God to release captives, open the eyes of the blind, and set the oppressed people free. And so people listened to His words. Perhaps this is a big reason why more people aren't listening to the words churches have to say today. We offer words, but not power.

I am just wondering today how often we settle for a Gospel of words. Good words, meaningful words, but often devoid of an expectation that God will show up in power. When Jesus met with his followers for the last time, He was clear with them, "You will receive POWER (not words) when the Holy Spirit comes on you, and you will be my witnesses."

What does all this mean? I'm not entirely sure. I'm just becoming aware in my own life of how often I settle for words when perhaps God wants me to hunger for his power. By sharing this with you, I hope it will provoke a desire in your own heart to pray, fast, cry out for, and expect more of God's power to be displayed in your life.

May you know the power of the gospel today as you journey with Jesus,


1 comment:

Josh said...

I like this change in wording. Christians too often seem to ignore the power we have in Christ. At least, I like this change INSIDE the church. The problem with the word POWER is it evokes images of abuse, heavy-handedness, and rules... all the things people criticize the church for. Yet I don't like news, either, for the reasons you mentioned. Is there a word we could use that would define Gospel for the people hearing/seeing/experiencing it for the first time?