Which gospel did you preach today?

Posted: April 3, 2015 by J in Bible, Church, Theology

how-to-become-a-career-coach-1There are two different gospels that got preached in our churches today. The more popular one is:

The gospel of individual salvation

“Christ died for your sins so that you could be forgiven and released from the wrath of God.”

It’s: 

individualist: about the individual’s problem and need. Centred around that need.

abstract: the problem is not felt or experienced, but is ‘out there’ somewhere in the spiritual realm. The solution is also not experienced or felt, but also happens elsewhere: it is justification

forensic: largely confined with questions of guilt and punishment

– propositional: there is no real narrative attached. The cross operates as an isolated mechanism, rather than part of a larger story.

vertical: about our relationship with God but not our relations with each other.

escapist: doesn’t offer any help with ordinary everyday life, but rather distracts attention away from the everyday to other, ‘higher’ things.

Friday heavy: the important work is achieved on the Friday. There’s not much left that needs doing on the Sunday.

Spirit-lite: the Holy Spirit doesn’t usually get a mention in this gospel. Not needed! The message works fine without him.

____________________

But there’s another gospel that some preached today:

The ‘kingdom of God’ gospel

“Christ came announcing and demonstrating the arrival of God’s kingdom on earth. At Easter that kingdom really and decisively arrived. We are invited to join it.”

It’s:

– narrative: placing the cross within the wider story of Jesus and of God’s purposes. Propositions arise out of the narrative rather than being overlaid onto an event.

– Christ-centred:  rather than centred around our needs. The cross is really the main event in itself, rather than just a mechanism that allows for the important event to happen in our lives.

– creation-conscious: a story about God’s world, and about all humanity, rather than about me. The individual is addressed as a part of that larger picture, rather than in isolation.

– this worldly: expressing God’s commitment to his creation and the value and importance of all that happens in it. It is therefore

horizontal as well as vertical: right relationships with one another being an integral part of joining in with God’s arriving kingdom.

broad-focussed: concerned with forensic issues, but also with matters of relationship, identity, belonging, well-being, purpose and a thousand other things that all form part of ‘the kingdom of God’.

concrete and ‘earthy’: interacts with and speaks to felt needs and experiences as well as more abstract ones. Relates to actual human flourishing in the here and now, as well as the future.

– Sunday-focussed as well as Friday: while Friday was death to the old order, Sunday is the real beginning of the new. After Friday the work was only half-done.

– Spirit-rich: this kingdom only arrives because of the mighty act of God’s Spirit on Sunday, bringing in a new creation through the resurrection of Christ. It only arrives in our lives by that same Spirit doing the same work in us. (0f course you’d probably talk about this on the Sunday more than today…)

Which gospel did you guys preach at your church this Good Friday?

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