What is (not) the gospel?

by Glorious Failure

sapling tree

“THAT’S NOT THE GOSPEL!” I burst out, yelling at the dash housing my car’s radio.

Late one evening recently I heard a radio spot on XM radio’s “The Message” — a Christian music station. Between songs, the announcer asked if I were having a bad day. He said, “Cheer up! Better days are ahead.” (I’ve paraphrased here.)

That’s what irked me. That’s what sparked my ire. The announcer said nothing else — nothing of Christ. Christian hope does not lie in circumstance. It lies in redemption and the hope of the resurrection. That’s the hope of the gospel.

In effect the radio announcer said that we should hope because things will get better. They may. But that’s beside the point. The announcer’s statement predicates hope on circumstance. That’s a dangerous place to affix hope. Circumstances change.

Further, as a Christian response to this admonishment, what would you say then to Coptic Christians in Iraq right now being tortured, imprisoned, and beheaded for their faith by ISIS? Would this advice tell them to cheer up because better days are ahead? Somehow that just seems hollow. Maybe callous is better. No.

Cruel.

Look, the hope of the gospel is that Christ died to atone for the brokenness of the whole world. He fulfilled God’s righteousness required by the law. He died the death we deserve so we can live the life He earned. That’s the power of grace. By Christ’s sufficient sacrifice we are God’s ministers of reconciliation and redemption.

In Christ God is redeeming sin. Not by circumstance.

It’s not like sin doesn’t matter. It’s not that sin can be ignored. Why else would Jesus have to die? No, God is building His glory on the redemption of the world. And He is more glorious for it, not less.

Our hope as Christians is not in our circumstances. Our hope is firm. And it is fixed. Our hope is in Christ.