How do you share the Gospel?  It’s a very intimidating subject.  Maybe I should ask, “Do you share the Gospel?” and if so, what do you say?  I’ve been obsessed with this question for a while.  I feel both a conviction and desire to be out and about giving real hope in a fragile, fleeting world, yet I am afraid of both rejection and falling on my face.

I grew up in the Episcopal Church.  Their approach to sharing the Gospel, at least during the ‘so called’ Decade of Evangelism (the 1990s) was meant to take away any fear or threat of pushback.  They taught “All you have to do is tell your story – no one can criticize you for telling your story!”

It took me years finally to realize that while one’s story might interest SOME people, that’s actually NOT the gospel.  Your story features and highlights YOU as the main character.  On the other hand, the Gospel is God’s story; His rescue operation of lost sinners unable to save themselves. That’s why it’s good news for everyone. And it’s not just wishful thinking.  We can point to a particular historical event as a basis for this saving operation.

So for the past two years, having studied the content of the good news as objective historical fact – what Christ accomplished on our behalf, I have stayed away from including anything personal.  But recently I’ve been reading that it is perfectly legitimate to add a personal dimension, the details of how that ‘good’ news has changed your life.

These two aspects of the Gospel – the objective side and the affective side seem like they would make for a much more complete presentation.  Taking two weeks, I will first pick up and look at the content of the actual gospel.  And next week, God-willing, I will write about how that event has changed my life.  In doing so, I think that my readiness to share the full story will be honed.  Maybe this will prompt you to practice articulating what the Gospel is.  After all, we are charged to be ready always to give a defense, an apologia for what and why we believe (1 Pet 3:15).

The good news, the Gospel, is an account of something that took place outside of us.  It’s anchored in an historical event, the crucifixion.   God the Son came into our world as a human to reconcile us to God the Father by accomplishing two goals.  The first goal was to pay off our debt against God.  The second goal was to transfer a perfectly obedient life to our account.  By doing both, we are then counted and considered as adopted sons of the Father, having full rights of inheritance with our older brother Jesus.  It’s an incredible accomplishment given our status beforehand.

As always, in order to understand why this is GOOD news, we have to acknowledge reality before Jesus.  Yes, God did create us in His image and He was pleased with His handiwork.  But in the interests of creating us with the capacity to love as free agents, part of our nature included the ability to reject God.  And right from the beginning our Uncle Adam and Aunt Eve did that.

We all know that no man is an island unto himself and that our actions do indeed impact others.  Well Adam and Eve’s desire to be autonomous, to be their own gods and decision makers got transferred to us.  And that default has been wired into our very nature, to our harm.

Every time we decide to make much of ourselves or of something in creation, we rob God of His rightful glory.  Those actions add up to a staggering record against us.  They prevent us from having a peaceable relationship with God our Father.  We are out of sorts with Him because of all this wrongdoing lying between us.  The record is huge, because it keeps accumulating each day, day after day.  It is an insurmountable obstacle to a loving relationship with God.  In fact because of this mountain of sin, we deserve death.

Yet God…..!!! (Great words)  Because He is just and righteous, He doesn’t turn a blind eye to sin. But because His loving-kindness is beyond our imagining, He doesn’t leave us without hope. Instead, He provided a way to pay off that debt forever. He chose to die in our place.  Had WE been writing the story, never in a million years would we have imagined that ending.  But the Trinity in a Holy Plan created this very rescue mission.  God as Father, Holy Spirit and Son decided to save a group of humans to be His children forever.  Jesus, the son, left His privileged place in the family God-head to face the eventual separation when He took on our sins.

All this glorious work and inheritance gets to be ours when we face the fact that without God’s active intervention, we would have no way out. We can’t save ourselves. But oh, what a savior!  We can humbly and gratefully accept His offer of pardon and full restitution. That’s it – we open our hands and accept the gift and our status is immediately changed.  We no longer face eternal condemnation and a horrible future.

Instead we can look forward to a mind-boggling, staggering inheritance, packed with an infinity of implications.  But why do I hesitate to let others in on this amazing plan?   Why do I stall, dreaming up ‘easy’ ways to approach people?   I hold imaginary conversations

  • So, are you a spiritual person?
  • Do you ever feel guilty?
  • What are you going to do with your guilt when you die?
  • Do you ever think about life after death?
  • What do you think happens to people when they die?

I think I have the content down.  I just am afraid to open up, unless someone asks me a leading question.

What about you?  What has your experience been like?  How do you communicate God’s story?

(**Next week, I’ll post about why being rescued by God has changed my life in the here and now.)