We so often get lulled to sleep by a humanistic version of the gospel. This humanistic gospel puts me at the center. It tries to convince me that humanity is basically good and sin has been over-emphasized. It tries to make me believe Jesus’s main mission was teach me that I’m a good person. The picture we get from this false gospel is a person whose car is overrun with progressive bumper stickers on the back of their hybrid that proclaim peace, coexistence, and care for animals. All the while the owner of the car is sitting in a lotus position absorbing the goodness of the “Universe.” This is not the gospel at all.
It would be a shock to the system for some Christians to read the first few lines of the letter to the Galatians:
Paul, an apostle—sent not from men nor by a man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead— and all the brothers and sisters with me,
To the churches in Galatia:
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.Galatians 1:1-5
This gospel of Jesus is not about good people realizing their potential by looking within. The gospel of Jesus is about people dead in their sin being resurrected by the power of Jesus because he himself died in our place and rose from the dead. It was a rescue mission and is a rescue mission. The age we live in is evil, and we all need rescuing from it by the grace of God. And for our rescue, all glory goes to God the Father, not to us.
We are not the main character in the history of humanity; Jesus is. This gospel does not center around us, but around Him. Because of His great sacrifice, we owe Him our complete allegiance as the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Our life now belongs entirely to Him. We were bought at a price, and it is our great honor that we now get to join Him, as sons and daughters, on this rescue mission. We’ve become our King’s ambassadors, announcing the mind-boggling news that God has reconciled the world to Himself, not holding our great sin against us.
If we want a picture for this, the true gospel, it is not an overly-stickered car with a lotus-sitting driver. A true picture of the true gospel could be found in Harriet Tubman, a woman who was completely oppressed and bound in slavery, who gets rescued, and then goes back into the belly of the beast to rescue others. Her freedom did not bring her to self-indulgence or self-absorption, but to a profound gratitude and sense of mission and responsibility for others like her who longed for freedom. This is the gospel.
May we have eyes to see and ears to hear the real gospel from all the counterfeits!