I was a student at UCLA in the mid and latter part of the 1970s. Campus Crusade for Christ members were rabid in their efforts to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I could spot them a mile away and would anxiously look about to hide from them! They didn’t think my salvation was secure even though I was leading a Bible study in the dorms. It was offensive.
No one hears the Good News of the Gospel, or anything for that matter, when you’re assaulted with dogma and barraged with shoulds, oughts, and have tos. The wonderful message of grace, forgiveness and restoration seems forced and inauthentic when they come from a deeply wounded, overcritical, and bitter soul. There is so much more to communicating and sharing the Gospel than getting the facts right.
The Gospel is a story that’s intended to be lived out. It’s a narrative that is meant to be embodied in our attitudes, our behavior, and our involvement in the lives of others. It’s incarnational.
After the death of Jesus, a devout, highly educated, politically-inspired Jewish man named Saul encountered the Good News while traveling to Damascus to persecute Christians. It was such a dramatic encounter that he changed his name to Paul and began sharing how the Gospel changed him. Besides visiting places where Christians gathered, he wrote letters of encouragement and instruction to churches. Many of those letters are part of the New Testament.
In his first letter to the church in Thessalonica – the modern city of Thessaloniki is the second most important city of Greece – Paul wrote this:
So deeply do we care for you that we are determined to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you have become very dear to us. ~ 1 Thessalonians 2:8
As Paul reminds the Thessalonians, the Gospel is more than a story to be told. It’s good news to be embodied. When God was ready to share Good News with us God didn’t simply write an e-mail or tell a story. Instead, God sent Jesus, whose birth we celebrate at Christmas. The power of the Gospel is God sharing God’s life with us.
The power of the Gospel in our own lives is us sharing our lives with others. How will you embody the Gospel in your life this season? How will you tell the Christmas story of God sharing God’s life with you?
Part of the wonder of the Gospel is that it meets me exactly where I am. I do not have to have it figured out or even completely understand all that it means in my life. Help me to hear Your Good News for me with an open heart. Amen