Christians talk a lot about the Gospel.
As they should. The Gospel is the foundation of our faith. But what if Christians have forgotten about the Gospel?
This post is written to Christians, but I would be very interested to hear what those who are not Christians would think of it as well. Maybe those of you who are not Christians actually have a better perspective on Christians than we do about ourselves. So if you are not a Christian, what do you think? Do you think that Christians have forgotten the Gospel? Perhaps you have rubbed shoulders with Christians in your neighborhood, or at your kids’ soccer game, or at work. By their actions would you say they have forgotten the Gospel?
To answer that, it would be good to know what the word Gospel actually refers to. It doesn’t originally come from the Bible, believe it or not. Some of the writers of the New Testament took a word that was common in Greco-Roman society and used that word to describe the story of Jesus. That word was Euangelion, which by looking at it bears a striking resemblance to Evangelical. It was Euangelion that came first. Euangelion referred to a proclaiming of good news, and one of the most notable occurrences of Euangelion was to celebrate when a new Caesar would take power in Rome. We can see, then, why the writers of the New Testament would use Euangelion to describe the proclamation of the good news of Jesus, the person they claimed was the true Lord. But were they right? What is the content of this Good News about Jesus? How could those early Christians say that a peasant from a relatively unimportant corner of the Roman Empire was truly Lord? The Roman Empire dispensed with Jesus easily. How is that Good News?
In our next section of 1st Corinthians, 15:1-11, Paul talks about this Gospel, this Good News. In fact he specifically wants to remind the Christians in the church of Corinth about that Good News. It seems they had forgotten it. They certainly weren’t acting like they remembered it.
Now some words to the Christians reading this post? Do you remember the content of the Good News? If you have a couple minutes to describe it, what would you say? Without looking at 1st Corinthians 15:1-11, how about doing a little self-test, and write out the message of Good News in your own words. Then click on the link for 1st Corinthians 15:1-11 and see how closely your description matches Paul’s. But that is just the content side. While the Good News is most certainly comprised of a particular content to be agreed with and believed, action is also part and parcel of Good News. It must be lived out. As you’ll read in this passage, Paul says that the Corinthians had not only received and believed it, but they staked their lives on it. Yet, they were making a reputation for themselves, and it was not a good one. Perhaps they had forgotten the message of Good News. Perhaps they needed a reminder.
Maybe we need one too.