The word Gospel is as much of a buzz word in Christianity as anything else. Countless books include the word in their title and half of the Christian leaders I talk to say that the key to changing the lives of people is for them to encounter the Gospel. It’s not that I disagree, but I wonder if we actually understand what the Gospel is.
A few months ago Scot McKnight posted about summarizing the Gospel into a short statement (a sentence or less). I was intrigued by how many scholarly and pastoral leaders chose to summarize the Gospel into a “Jesus loves you” type of statement.
Does the statement “Jesus loves me” fully capture the Gospel? I don’t think so.
This Gospel of God’s love for you is vital to your connection with God, but it doesn’t complete what the Gospel is.
My issue with this idea of the Gospel being only Jesus loves me is that we start to believe God cares about each of us individually and we stay within this intrinsically focused mindset at all times. Do what makes you feel good…because Jesus loves you. Do what brings the best out of you…because Jesus cares about you.
The reason this type of Gospel falls short is because Jesus continually taught that you are called to not only love God but also to love others (Matthew 22:39). Jesus brought with Him a new thing. Now you come to God through Jesus. And Jesus taught that this new thing meant you must respond in new ways (Luke 5:36-39). Now you are commanded to love God and love others. Not love God and love yourself.
The Gospel pulls you away from a world revolved around yourself and pushes you into a world where you love others (click here to tweet this).
The reason you stop short of a life surrounded by caring for others is because you think the Gospel is all about you, not about them. Jesus saves you. And you stop there.
But the truth is that it is God who saves us to a new way of living where you surrender your life so that He can use you to bless others. Paul said that Jesus saving us was of first importance to pass on (1st Cor. 15:3). Paul chooses to pass this on because the Gospel pushed Him toward others, instead of hoarding the goodness of God to himself.
Listen to my message on mentoring titled “Of First Importance” focused on the exact same themes in this post (RSS readers: head here to listen and/or download the message).
I think one the main ways we live out this others-centered Gospel is through mentoring relationships. Don’t miss my new book on mentoring.