Thursday, August 02, 2007

2.

2. The Gospel of Jesus Christ reigns supremely.

I do not have all the answers. In fact, I do not have many answers. The beauty, and perhaps curse, of a blog remains that the author can choose the topics he wishes to choose and avoid those he wishes to avoid. Know that many exist out there which I purposefully avoid in ignorance because I cannot explain God or his Gospel fully.

I find all life philosophies possess this same quality. All religions, all theories, all politics, all philosophies have critics. Hard questions often find silent answers, even when I speak of Christianity. Yet, I have become utterly and violently convinced of this one thing during my year off:

The Gospel of Jesus Christ, that Christ died for sinners of whom I stand worst, fully satisfies the soul and reigns supremely over life.

The Gospel reigns supremely over the existence.

I wrote yesterday of death. I confess this burdened me all day. I felt bad. Dwelling on death does that to us because God did not make us to die. Romans says that death exists as the wage of sin, and the Lord designed us as sinless. 'Tis our sinned that ruined life and brought about death. No wonder death feels so unnatural. Like everything that results from sin, it is. This is why I wrote yesterday that death has nothing to do with life. God gave us life apart from death. Our rebellion brought death onto the scene.

But through the cross, Jesus has destroyed death and returned to us the life God intended us to have all along. This death which hounded me all day today, which often hounds so many of us, it is no more! Hear again, it is no more!

I love the tone the New Testament takes with death. "Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?" cries 1 Cor 15:56. Romans 8:36 proclaims: "In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us." It continues, "For I am convinced that neither death, nor life. . . will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."

The apostle Paul, in his divinely inspired words, mocks death. He calls out its weakness. He claims us conquerors, victors over death all because of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Mockery. Strength. Victory. These are our words to death.

Hear the arts as they join the chorus. Poet John Donne rudely addresses death in his Holy Sonnets, saying, "Death, thou shalt die." The hymn writer echoes with perhaps my favorite verse of song: "Death, in vain, forbids [Christ] rise" because Christ the Lord is risen today. In vain! Ha!

The death which consumes the world, which awaits all of us, which lyingly says we have no recourse, finds embarrassment, humility, and ultimate defeat at the cross of Christ because the Gospel reigns supremely over the existence.

The Gospel reigns supremely over the emotion.

Because of Christ's work on the cross, we have found new relationship with the Almighty God who has promised his presence with us always to the end of the age. Here lies the companionship for the lonely, the shoulder always available to which we turn, the constant Father, the constant Brother, the constant Friend. Because Christ died to remove the sin between us and a Holy God, we have everlasting companionship with the One who alone knows exactly how to love us.

Paul sits in a Roman prison facing torture and death. He is not alone.

A widow spends her days in a retirement community with only sparse visits from others. She is not alone.

A missionary couple sits in a foreign land, cut off from all they have ever known. They are not alone.

A man enters his 30's single, told by the world he should feel misery and pity. He is not alone.

A solitary middle schooler sits at the end of a table, reading because he finds no audience with the cool kids. He is not alone.

We never have to know loneliness because the Gospel reigns supremely over the emotion.

The Gospel reigns supremely over the social.

Just as Jesus Christ reconciled us to God, he calls us to reconcile with each other. From the Gospel of Jesus Christ emerges the greatest call to social justice the world has ever heard, not one of condescension or of politics or of guilt or of works-righteousness. No, the call sounds greater, nobler than that. It calls forth from thanksgiving and response.

Because of the right standing with God that Christ has given us as an indescribable free gift, we understand that we deserve nothing. In fact, we are not even our own; we were bought for the price of Jesus Christ. Who are we to elevate ourselves to any position above another? Let us respond and serve!

The Gospel of Christ shows us the way. Just as all stand equally dignified before the throne of God, so we should desire all to have equal standing in our world. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female before God. Let us strive, therefore, to love each other across the boundaries of race, ethnicity, gender, and difference that we have made. Just as the Lord has provided all of our needs which we could not meet at the cross, so we should give generously of ourselves to supply the poor, the widows, the orphans, the oppressed the ones with whom Jesus hung out.

Let us strive for justice for others, even at our own expense, because of the One who expended himself for us!

What's more, the Gospel uniquely provides the power with which to accomplish this task, a power which no organization, no principality, no government has at its disposal. He is the Holy Spirit. He convicts, guides, helps, empowers, and works to bring about the Kingdom of God in justice as the Lord intends it to be.

We desire all these things because the Gospel reigns supremely over the social.

The Gospel reigns supremely over the intellect.

Though the minds of this world would call it foolishness (and the Bible says that they shall), let us not forget that smart men have analyzed the evidence and concluded the Gospel true. Josh McDowell and Lee Strobel set out to prove the Gospel false; instead they found conversion. Smart folk like Augustine, Jonathan Edwards, and C.S. Lewis loved Jesus. Even great philosophers like Kierkegaard thought so highly of the Lord as to write things about him which most of us cannot understand.

People have thought on the nature of life and on the nature of man, they have observed our history and our writings, they have written and philosophized themselves. And they have concluded for, and not against, Christ. In the end, the message of Christ and the world they observed actually made sense. We should expect nothing else as we seek the one who told us to "love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and WITH ALL YOUR MIND" (emphasis mine).

Christianity does not require that we disregard our minds because the Gospel reigns supremely over the intellect.

The Gospel reigns supremely over the mission.

Let one never say that Christ leaves us without purpose in our earthly lives. He has commanded us to "go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit."

Every moment, we have a purpose because the Gospel reigns supremely over the mission.

Every moment, we work towards that mission, to proclaim the supremacy of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

3 comments:

Chris Pappa said...

Excellent post.

If you have a #1 coming, I can't imagine what it would be. I think you've hit your peak here.

Tasha said...

AMEN!

katie said...

Solid post. It is a great comfort to know we are not alone.