The Gospel In A Word Is...?
Peace, peace, peace, peace. The gospel in a word is peace. Peace that passeth understanding. Peace, peace, peace. Joy, joy, joy, joy. The gospel in a word is joy. Joy that something something something. Joy, joy, joy.
Love, love, love, love. The gospel in a word is love. Love thy neighbor something something. Love, love, love.
Anyone else remember singing that song? It was all the rage during my formative years in church -- those good, old "worship training" days. Camp days. Youth rally days. Hopefully, you remember the lyrics better than I do!
I do remember the feeling evoked. To me it was the idea that the gospel was simple and yet somehow not. It was mysterious and straightforward at the same time. It was peace. But it was also joy. And it was also love.
Truth be told, the gospel is Jesus. And, as much as Jesus is peace, the gospel is peace. Same with joy. Same with peace.
But there is more to Jesus than just understanding his character. Jesus, like everyone else, has a story, and if we fail to grasp his story, we'll miss a good deal of what it is he came to show us.
So, we could say that the gospel isn't just Jesus -- it's also the story of Jesus. And, just as we dare not replace Jesus with any other person, we dare not replace his story with any other story.
This, obviously, means many things.
The story of Jesus is not just a story of love or forgiveness or sacrifice. Many stories demonstrate these virtues. The story of Jesus is about those things (and much more) as they could only be exemplified by this one unique person: Jesus.
Moreover, all these other fantastic stories contained in the Bible cannot be taken in isolation. They must, rather, be understood as part of Jesus' story, too. In fact, in some way, Jesus must be seen as the point of these other stories.
There's a paradox in here. As much as we may want to reduce the gospel to one word, we are forced to admit that the gospel in a word is Jesus and his story and all the stories about Jesus.