5. What is the Gospel (good news)?
If asked, most Christians would probably recite something along the lines of, “Jesus died for your sins so that you can have a relationship with God and so that you can go to heaven instead of hell when you die.” This is true, but it’s only part of the story, and a part which I’ve always found unsatisfactory in really feeling like good news. First, it says nothing about God, so (taken by itself) I don’t know if and/or why I should want to be in a relationship to God. Second, while heaven sounds like a good idea compared to hell, they both seem very far off and intangible to me. Since I haven’t tasted the heaven or hell of the afterlife, they do little to motivate me, make me feel like the gospel is really good news, or make me feel excited (or scarred for that matter).
Let me tell you something which, if you could believe it, I think you’d find to be good news worthy of being excited about. God is love. Since God exists as three persons (Father, Son/Jesus Christ, Holy Spirit), relationship is a core part of God. And the relationship God experiences is perfect. Each part of God cares about the others so much that they would do anything for them, and they know each other completely so that they know exactly how to love one another. Can you imagine having someone who knew you, who was always there for you, always encouraging you, always believed in you, always thought the world of you, and whom you knew you could always trust? Wouldn’t that be great?
Now to reveal the mystery of the ages: God decided that he would bring another entity into the relationship of the trinity (that is, the three persons of God)! This entity would experience and participate in the perfect, amazing love within God. You have a chance to be a part of this, even now! Who is this entity which is being brought into relationship with God? It is the church: the fellowship of those who follow Christ. The church is being brought into fellowship with God by being joined to Christ. Marriage is one metaphor used to describe this bond, wherein there were formerly two, they have become one. This joining is also described as becoming part of the family of God. But even beyond these close bonds, it is described as becoming Christ’s very body! (Notice that it is not you individually being brought into relationship with God, but rather you are brought in as you become part of the community of followers who are collectively being joined to Christ. Click here for more of my thoughts on the Good News from several years ago.)