I’ve been thinking about the gospel.
As a pastor, you might think that I often think about the gospel. You’d be right. I think about how to convey the message of Jesus and about the content of this good news. I give thanks for all of those people who have paid a great price for the sake of the gospel – people from Peter to Paul to Luther to Calvin to Bonhoeffer to Mother Teresa.
I also think about how sometimes the message of the gospel gets lost in the business of church, or even politics. Sometimes we accidentally bury the great, good news of salvation and liberation underneath to-do lists of building repairs and overdue bills. Sometimes we really want to get our way about something and forget that Jesus came for everyone, not just people who think like we do.
This past Sunday, I had a moment when I felt my eyes welling up with tears, because I believe so deeply in the words that I was speaking. It was this moment:
…this is the truth about the treasure: there is not any person – not young or old, not rich or poor, not gay or straight, not conservative or liberal – not anyone who does not hope for the news of God’s reconciling, liberating love. Not one!
I believe that. We live in a time in which church attendance has been declining for years, but the need for the treasure that is the gospel of Jesus Christ continues to grow. People need to be loved; they need to be forgiven, to be welcomed, to be transformed. Deep down, people yearn for a sense of justice; they long to live lives of purpose.
Some of us have found those things in church as it has always been. If that is you, count yourself as a lucky one. Chances are that you’ve never gone a moment of your life without knowing that you are a cherished child of God.
Others need to find that sense of justice and purpose, that certainty that they belong to God, in some other way. We know that the good news is for everyone; we just need to learn how to share it in new ways.
I give thanks that I have known that I am a beloved child of God for my whole life. I rejoice that this is true for many of you who are reading this letter. And I pray that God will show us ways to share that transformational, life-changing news with some new people, people who are just as cherished by God as we are.
Grace and peace,