At Bluff Park Community Church, our newest Community Group is starting up this week by looking together at The Gospel Primer, a great resource put together by the guys over at The GCM Collective. By the way, did you hear that? We are starting a new Community Group! That means new people are showing up and pursuing Jesus in community! (You can go ahead and insert an image of preacher-boy doing the Charlie Brown happy dance here.) Anyway, if you or anyone you know lives anywhere in or around the Bluff Park area of Hoover, and are looking to walk with Jesus in community with others, we would love to have you join us!
Earlier this morning as I was working through Day 1 in The Gospel Primer, I came to the following definition of “the gospel”, which is actually a quote from Tim Keller (and if you are going to quote somebody not named “The Apostle Paul” on a definition of the gospel, it might as well be Keller!) So, the definition from Keller goes like this: “The gospel is that God himself has come to rescue and renew creation in and through the work of Jesus Christ on our behalf.”
Good summary. But as I was reading through that definition, I was struck by how much of this gospel message I often struggle to believe. Here’s what I mean…
- God himself has come –
As a father, husband, neighbor and as a pastor I am often stressed, desperate and frantic, as if a fatherless orphan with no comfort or protector. Our great God is Emmanuel, “God with us”. The weight of that truth should have real and tangible impact on our lives.
- to rescue and renew creation –
Too often I am all too satisfied with creation “as is”. I have my comfortable little house, on a decent lot, in a nice neighborhood, surrounded by neighbors that are, by and large, nice, polite and safe. As long as I don’t follow the news too closely, I can construct a false narrative that tells me I live in “Mayberry” and all is well with the world. If I am not careful, I can be easily pacified by “Mayberry”, when in reality we were created for “Eden”. It kind of reminds me of that great C.S. Lewis quote from The Weight of Glory where he says…
“It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”
- in and through the work of Jesus Christ on our behalf –
While “we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10)….. I can never forget that the true work being done, must be done by Christ. Truth is, we all make really crumby Jesus substitutes. I am not called to “be Jesus” to my neighborhood, my family or my church. I can not save myself or anybody else. I cannot plant a church or redeem a particular community. The job description of “Savior, Redeemer and Reconciler of all things” is already filled. I feel like, if we could “get this” we would probably carry much less pressure, spend much more time in dependent prayer, and likely see much more fruit in our own lives and in our neighborhoods.
And so there I am, a pastor who often struggles to believe the truth of Christ’s gospel message. But then, in the end, this is the daily (hourly?) dance of the Christian, is it not? Unbelief, exposed by Truth, followed by repentance, which then leads us anew to belief in the elementary truths of the gospel. Beauty.