We sure live in turbulent times! A quick scan of a newspaper, a news website, or a cable news show will provide ample evidence of a broken world. Then there is social media where everyones’ emotional worlds are on full display. Have you seen cartoons with thought bubbles, where we got to see what a person was thinking only by reading what was in the bubble? Seems like Twitter, Facebook, and other platforms have become everyone’s thought bubbles, rather than capturing thoughts and determining if there is a better way to say something, people just tend to let it rip.
Underneath it all, this is a world with people who are in painl, who are looking for ways of dealing with the pain, and who are searching for answers for a better life. Wouldn’t it be great if we could just get a little “good news”?
My last post, I introduced the second core question we are now considering as part of my time with the Renovaré Institute. That question is “What is the Gospel?”. We also spent all of Wednesday on the spiritual retreat on this question. So in this post I want to share some insights into this question.
How Jesus Defines the Gospel
When we say the Gospel, we mean good news. It is the kind of news that this world is really longing to hear. So what exactly is this good news? Our word of the day on Wednesday of the retreat was “Kingdom” because this was the word Jesus used over and over again to describe the good news.
In the Beatitudes in Matthew 5, “for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” is a constant theme. In the Lord’s prayer, Jesus is praying for God’s kingdom to come (Matt 6:10). Jesus tells us to seek the kingdom of God above everything else (Matt 6:33). Jesus sends his disciples out with the instructions to proclaim “the Kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matt 10:7). Jesus uses parables to describe what the kingdom of God is like. In Matthew 13 alone, there are six parables describing the kingdom of God.
What is the Kingdom of God like?
If the good news is really the kingdom of God, what is it like? In a word, indescribable! But let’s try to define it a little with a few key points. The Kingdom of God is:
- A Loving Community: we all have an innate desire for love and connection and yet we experience varying levels of disconnection in this world. The Kingdom of God is a place of loving and intimate community, first with God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. We are partakers in this immensely relational and intensely personal relationship with God. We also can have this type of relationship with other people who are in the kingdom of God with us.
- A Changed Life: when we are honest with ourselves, we realize we are broken. And no matter what we try nothing truly seems to get us to a place where we feel whole. The Kingdom of God is a place where we can be healed and made whole. Trevor Hudson shared this thought with us: “Jesus meets us where we are, but never leaves us where we were”. Jesus frees us from what holds us back from experiencing the life we were intended to live. We were intended to live freely in the Kingdom of God now.
- An Overcoming power: Life in the Kingdom is living with the supernatural power of God that gives us all we need even when we feel weak. We do not have to be afraid of our weaknesses any longer, because when we are weak, we experience the power of God in our lives. In the kingdom, we can trust in the King who will protect us and who delivers us from evil, sin, and death.
- An Eternal life: the kingdom of God is an eternal kingdom. It is available now and will be available forever. Death has no power over us. We may die physically, but we will live eternally in the kingdom of God.
Loving community, changed life, power in weakness, and eternal life. If that is what is on the table, that is good news!
Accepting the Invitation
In the beginning, Adam and Eve lived and experienced the Kingdom of God in the Garden of Eden. But they rejected the kingdom of God so they could rule their own lives with disastrous results. We have been living in the wrong kingdom ever since. The good news is we now have access to this amazing kingdom of God because Jesus has made the way by offering his perfect, sinless life as a sacrifice on our behalf. In love He did this so we could join Him in His kingdom. He wants us in His kingdom. We just need to turn from the kingdom we are in and turn toward Him and accept His invitation. There are no hidden fees, performance metrics, membership dues, or recurring charges. It is a free gift to all who will believe. Sometimes you may have heard the statement that if a deal is too good to be true then it probably is? Well in this case it really is true. It is the best good news you can possibly imagine!
Dallas Willard puts Jesus words in Mark 1:15 in this way:
The Gospel is the availability of experiencing the Kingdom of God because of Jesus. The Good News is life doesn’t have to be this way. Through Jesus, the Kingdom of God offers a better and different kind of life.