I’m hoping that this week will offer a chance to get to the “Part 2s” of some of the series that I’ve started and to which I’ve not yet returned. In that regard, I figured it’d be a good day to post some of my own thoughts in the “Tiny Gospel” series based on the Scot McKnight lecture I posted back on March 16th.
McKnight suggests that the church has presented a gospel in which all that matters is that Jesus Christ died on the cross for our sins so that we can go to heaven when we die. If you were in service this past Sunday at New Life and heard my sermon, you’ll likely guess that I agree with McKnight in a number of ways and with the portrait of a truncated gospel that he presents. Here are some of my thoughts that come out of my own study and listening to the lecture a handful of times.
- This is the John 3:16 phenomenon at work in popular theology. John 3:16 is a beautiful verse that tells of God’s great love and sacrifice for everyone, and many have been made known of this passage by its regular appearance at sporting events. While it’s a great verse to share if you’ve only got one verse to share, it’s not the whole story. The rest of scripture is needed to flesh out what God has done in and through Jesus and what that means for the world today and in the future.
- The (post)post-modern world will want a meta-narrative. I don’t believe the idea that there is no great and grand story to encompass all stories will last. People will live those values out for a while, but it’s not sustainable. At some point, people are driven to ask, “What’s the point? What’s life all about?” The tiny gospel that the church has been offering the world does little to answer that question really. “Ok, so I’m saved – what’s the point? What’s life all about?” We must learn the whole story, and begin as a church to live it out.
- The church is needed to fully reflect God’s glory. One of McKnight’s greatest points is that I as an individual cannot fully reflect God’s love to the world. I can only do that in community, and that’s the entire driving force behind the church. If churches, congregations, movements, denominations, etc. cannot get over their hurts and their differences and begin to pray that God would make us one, then we will have little effect on God’s creation in the coming generation.
God has stirred in my heart a great passion to sing the entire song of the gospel. It’s a beautiful song, full of hope and purpose and fulfillment and life. It’s a song that sets people free and gives the meek something to look forward to if they are actually going to inherit the earth.
Be looking for at least 2 more posts that relate to this topic. I’m planning A Tiny Gospel – Part 3 in which I’ll share some of my own dreams for what this looks like and how this bigger gospel might play itself out in the life of the church. I’m also going to post my sermon from Sunday as soon as the video file is ready. That will be an extended look at the biblical support for a call to a larger gospel, and I hope to get some feedback from folks. Until then, may God’s kingdom be made known in your hearts and your lives while we anxiously await the coming of the Lord!