Gospel – really!

What is the gospel? There are so many different versions:

  • Being nice to people
  • Keeping the Commandments
  • Ecology
  • Tolerance

– but rules of behaviour are not the gospel. Or we might suggest:

  • Finding God
  • the meaning of life
  • the way things are
  • identity

but again, these are not the gospel. They may be good, they may be things Christians should do because of their faith. But they are not gospel, not basic.

Today we read 1 Corinthians 15:1-11, which tells us. Gospel is: about Jesus. It is about his death and resurrection setting us free. Paul says that was his first and fundamental message. Is it only Paul? No, Luke 5 underlines that the gospel is about Jesus, who saves us and changes us and our future. This is the good news – for gospel is literally “good news”. It is for us whether we are new to church, or members for decades, and it is for all.

And importantly, it is NOT advice about how to behave; it is NOT a system of thought, a philosophy, or a theory. It is about Jesus, and God’s plan that through Jesus we might be given the life and freedom and hope we could not gain on our own.That’s why it’s good news – and important that it is delivered and heard as good news.

And all the other things? Most of them are results, consequences of our taking the good news seriously and responding to it. If God sets us free, then maybe our lives should follow his pattern;

  • if he created the universe, then maybe we should look after it;
  • if he loves people, maybe we should do the same
  • if he can cope with us, why should we not see ourselves as he does?

– you can go on, and it is useful to do so. But don’t lose sight of that first and basic point. What is the gospel? It isn’t about the way we do church, or how we ought to behave, or theory of any sort. Gospel is Jesus – Jesus living, dying and rising to set us free. That is what God has done for us; its good news, and we ought to share it.

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